Here’s the disclaimer: I’ve spent a lot of time working with athletes on this cause and I’m biased. But I also feel strongly about skiing. There’s a passionate connection for these things that I’m barring right here so keep that in mind. Ok. Forget your political inclinations be they liberal or conservative. Stop thinking that this is a divisive, non-resolvable issue. If you are reading this you are a skier, plain and simple. You likely care about other people, spotted owls, the hole in the ozone layer and declining literacy rates, but the truth is you care more about a well placed double pole interval, whether or not the grooming is tight or which klister binder has the strongest durability. (C’mon. That’s an easy one.) Ignoring the climate crisis, however, won’t help you. Changing your light bulbs won’t do it. Simply put, no amount of personal sacrifice, however significant, will have the same impact on climate change as grassroots activism. Furthermore, you can’t sit this one out like you can Darfur, Nuclear proliferation or the final trappings of the Balloon boy hoax. Climate change will steal your favorite thing in the night. Everyday, we grow closer to a warmer planet and a life where plastic skiing and ski tunnels are the only remnants of a culture that sustains us. I’ve told my friends this before and watched them roll eyes or shift uncomfortably. It’s exhausting to give a crap.
This week the 350.org day of action is going to happen. There are a wide number of skiers getting into it, some of them spurned on by saving their sport, some with loftier aspirations. The new American professional cross country ski team, Steinbock Racing is hosting a rollerski race at the SoHo track with a 350 theme. Sara Renner and her husband Thomas Grandi are riding bikes with folks near Canmore, the Craftsbury crew has been amassing rowers in the name of 350 and across the pond, the Norwegian superstars Team Xtra Personell have been actively supporting the program through media work.
Will it help? Yes.
October 24 will put the focus where it needs to be: on the science and the citizens, not the special interests and the backroom deals. On that day, people will send in thousands of images of citizens gathering at important places around the world: from the melting glaciers of Mt. Everest to the sinking beaches of the Maldives, displaying the number 350 in a creative way. 350.org will be getting those pictures and putting them on the big screens in Times Square and projecting them at the UN headquarters. They’ll also be getting them into newspapers large and small on October 25th, the same newspapers that politicians all over the world use as a barometer for public opinion. Your voice will be added to the collective and build.
More importantly, your voice, your pictures, your actions with be used them in the weeks before the huge UN Climate meeting in Copenhagen to remind our leaders that they need to take physical reality and into account when they’re making decisions about our collective future. 350 is a clear and specific goal (unlike vague demands to “stop global warming”) that helps move the negotiations in the direction science and justice demand.
That’s that. There is a chance that the industrialized countries will reach an agreement in December that would put us on a path to protecting skiing in the future, but this is more likely a beginning of a longer trip that will take diligent people that are used to working hard and persevering. Remind you of anyone?
This is a skier’s cause. If you’re training on the 24th bring a banner -take a photo and bring it in. Tie in your team. Please be seen and heard on the 24th of October.
Andrew Gardner is the Head Coach of the Middlebury College Ski team and the Athlete Organizer for 350.org