Read This if You Care About Skiing

FasterSkierOctober 21, 20099

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 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. 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.

Team Xtra Personnel
Team Xtra Personnell

Andrew Gardner is the Head Coach of the Middlebury College Ski team and the Athlete Organizer for


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  • Cloxxki

    October 21, 2009 at 4:42 pm

    The people living from your tax and mortgage interest payment will be so glad with this 350 movement. Global warming is big business, and the best distraction ever devised. Easy to believed, and the big shots act like they are caving in under pressure from the buying public. Or, guess again, and do a bit more research.

    I love skiing, and I am actually more than most people affected in my enjoyment of life when the air is not clean. However, I do not want to be a stupid puppet for evil people who basically own Obama’s facade called the Republic (actually, people seem to think it’s a democracy, just because an election is involved.

    Think about this, on you own
    – Does Al Gore make money only from kind events that want him as a speaker, or does he have larger stakes in carbon-based “climate control”?
    – Why does northern facing walls of houses in the northern hemisfere, all at once get SUN shining on them?
    – Why does, especially the US government and president, call for renewable energy, while investing ZILCH in peer-respected free thinking energy researchers?
    – Why do free energy researchers never manage to die of old age?
    – Why was Paul Pantone incarserated, and basically left to die until a LARGE group of brave people got him out of jail?
    – Why, while it clearly works, and has for years, does hardly anyone know of HHO on demand to increase car mileage by 30% or more, using WATER?
    – Why, do we use 20-25% efficient combustion engines for most everything, while the design was already flawed when the crank shaft was invented? Alternatives are out there, and will double or triple mileage, if governments and Big Money would just allow for it.
    – Who orchestrated the credit crisis, and who’s appointed to go and fix it?
    – Who profits most from the crisis?
    – Why, did Obama win a Nobel prize? Deserved, bought, or as an SOS flare from Scandinavia burning a cross on Obama’s forehead?
    – Why is there so much MERCURY in the soon-mandatory flu vaccin? And why do people get so ill from it? Research it!
    – Who owns the pharmacy industry, and why do they spread killer virii themselves?
    -Who are the Bilderberg group, and where does a US president hang out when they meet?

    After you’ve given yourself answers to those questions, looking yourself in the eye via the morrir, then it’s time to make a difference. And it will not be about carbon emission. It will be about the bigger picture.

    Skiing is #2 priority in my life. #1 is to be part of leaving this world behind in better state than I when I entered it. OK, some personal things in between those.
    I don’t own a car, ride my bike everywhere, so that’s my contribution to carbon emissions. But really, that’s just a smoke screen.

    We’ve had some pretty good winters recently for skiing. I did not feel global warming in that way. These good winters may actually be a result of a shift in the earths tilt. And yes, the north pole ice is melting like mad. Antarctica is doing much better. Yet, great and early snow in the US…

    Before you count to 350, start opening your eyes. Leave mainstream thinking, and think for yourself.

    Call me a conspiracy maniac. Until recently, when I started doing my own thinking, I would have called someone just that.

    Before you trust anyone in a suit, do a background check.

    A great thumbs up for those people who are trying to make a difference by skiing extra indoor miles for cleaner air. I think they could use their intelligent energy much better, more root cause focussed. And no, you will not find an answer in the paper, or on TV.

    Last question : who own the TV?


  • Erik_hendrickson

    October 21, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    ….And not only that. NASA never landed on the moon, 9/11 was perpetrated by the CIA, and Tupac Lives!

    You are right about one thing Cloxxki, you are a conspiracy maniac.

  • bill mckibben

    October 21, 2009 at 9:58 pm

    First thing–so many thanks to Andrew for his tireless work for 350. Middlebury College gave birth to this movement, so in one sense it’s no wonder he’s emerged as a leader–but there’s not many elite coaches who would add this kind of work to their load. A real hero.
    Second thing–if you come out on Saturday to help, know you’ll be part of something big. I’m sitting here amidst the heaps of pizza boxes in our temporary 350 HQ in NYC, and the realization of just how big is starting to dawn on us. There will be at least 4,400 actions and events in 171 countries, by far the most widespread day of political action in the planet’s history. So when you’re skiing (lucky) or rollerskiing or riding on Saturday to help, know that at the same moment there will be Masai tribespeople, and Tibetan monks, and Australian divers on the Great Barrier Reef bringing the same message. It feels good.
    Thanks to all–bill mckibben,

  • coach

    October 21, 2009 at 11:45 pm

    nice work Hose. nice work.

  • oldtimer

    October 22, 2009 at 8:00 am

    I little confusing Cloxxki but I believe you are not a conspiracy maniac as much as a non-believer in consensus science. Good for you, if it was not for people like you we would still see the world as flat. You are in the company of greats such as Galeleo!
    I always liked to think of skiers as a bright bunch but this CO2 hysteria proves me wrong.
    Trying looking at some of the views of the highly knowledgable climatologists et al. who understand (at least as best as anyone can understand this complicated science) the facts around climate change.
    Check out this link from a few Norwegians whose knowledge on climate science is likely more reliable than that of Gore(Surprise!!) and those well known Norwegain skiers! Let the debate continue!!!

  • brent ehrlich

    October 22, 2009 at 12:25 pm

    Whether or not you choose to believe that rising CO2 levels are increasing the overall global temperature is up to you. But CO2 levels in the atmosphere are easily measured, have been increasing steadily, and are not up for debate. Data from NOAA show CO2 levels in 1960 below 320 ppm and today’s levels at nearly 390 ppm and rising. When we pump CO2 in the atmosphere it has to go somewhere, and much of it is absorbed into our oceans where it forms carbonic acid and lowers the overall pH. A recent PNAS article shows pH levels in our oceans are dropping ten times faster than predicted when controlled for seasonal and yearly fluctuations. That’s not good news. A more acidic ocean means those organisms that use calcium to form shells or as support, i.e., coral reefs and countless invertebrates, will no longer be able to do so. If/when they die out, the impact on the ocean’s, and world’s, food chain could be catastrophic. Unless you are a 2012 end-of-the-worlder, rising CO2 levels should make you very, very worried, even if you don’t believe in global warming or ski another day in your life. Well done, Andrew, for fighting to make a difference in the face of often-irrational partisan rancor.

  • stevephillips

    October 22, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    For some reason those who view global warming as a “hoax” or “conspiracy” seem to think of themselves as on the side of science. While there is much yet to be understood about the climate system, the science behind the vast majority of global warming research is very very good. I’m a scientist and I’ve been heavily involved in carbon cycle/climate research for about 5 years and have been fortunate to become closely involved in the subject. The largest issue is that few take the time to develop an understanding of the earth’s climate system, but instead listen to political/media advocates (e.g. Al Gore, Michael Crichton) who did not contribute to any science and are johnny-come-latelys to the field. A few in the media, like Bill McKibben above, have actually made an effort to understand the science and thoughtfully write about it, which is encouraging. And a few scientists that do address the media tend to be driven by fame and their own political intentions, and sensationalist claims on both sides of the issue often obscures the scientific consensus.

    For instance, many skeptics keep citing declining temperatures throughout the 2000s as a refutation of global warming. These decadal swings based on solar output are only flucuations on the major trend and the skeptics should not be basing arguments on several years of cooling. If CO2 doesn’t matter, how do skeptics explain when solar output was at a similar level in say the 1950s temperatures were cooler than now? Likewise, global warming proponents should not have cited several years of record temperatures in the 90s as proof of global warming. There are gaps in the understanding of anthropogenic/natural climate swings, but the global warming deniers have even less data to support their views of climate as unaffected by CO2 emissions. CO2 has heat-absorbing properties that are well-quantified in the lab and its effect in the atmosphere is easily calculated; how do skeptics think that CO2 magically stops acting as a greenhouse gas in the atmosphere? Skeptics blast the large uncertainties in climate models prediciting global warming; but how do they explain that the model predictions get WORSE when the effect human-induced CO2 emissions are left out of the models? There may be some natural variability yet to be understood, but skeptics attributing change to some yet-undiscovered process, while ignoring green-house gas emissions, is absolutely mind-boggling.

    The bottom line is the VAST MAJORITY of scientists that study climate are concerned about global warming, but unfortunately we’ve let the louder, ignorant political voices drown out the science until people accept it as a belief system which is not the case. This is real testable science. And it is the duty of an informed citizen to actually seek out an informed view instead of cherry-picking facts to support their view (which largely is copied along party lines). The bottom line is that greenhouse gas emissions present significant risks of severly disrupting the climate system we depend on. A prediction of X number of degrees due to CO2 emissions is only the tip of the iceberg. Even a small warming that decreases the area of reflecting ice or releases methane from permafrost or seafloor hydrates can lead to a runaway climate warming which can in turn cause a number of effects. Climate issues aside, as Brent pointed out, ocean acidification is an imminent danger to the ocean ecosystems that needs to be more broadly addressed. No scientists would ever recommend messing with the earth’s self-regulating climate system and biogeochemical cycles. “Global warming” really should be renamed to “Climate disruption” which is a more appropriate term as climate changes natutrally, but throwing a wrench in the climate system is a dangerous experiment to conduct on our civilization.

  • donpollari

    October 22, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    Thank you Steve and Brent for succinctly addressing the denialism that’s, (sadly), still present in some quarters regarding climate change.

    Thank you Andrew and Bill for your important work doing something about it.

  • dcasey

    October 31, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Congratulations to the Middlebury College Ski Team and Craftsbury (and precious few others) for taking climate change into consideration when executing a Nordic ski racing program. But this is peanuts in comparison with what we should be doing.

    There was a day when Nordic racing skis were made of a very renewable resource (wood), not a mash of petroleum-based fibers and plastics that comprise today’s skis. There was a day when tracks were set by the home team tramping around and around the course hours before the race to make a (sort of) packed uniform track, unlike now where we used gigantic diesel behemoths to perfectionize our natural environment. There was a day when wax ingredients came from cows, not the UAE – and didn’t cause cancer when melted. In the days of Bill Koch, environment-conscious Americans were attracted to Nordic skiing exactly because skiing didn’t involve scarring our mountains with ecosystem-destroying ski trails; because skiing didn’t involve being dependent upon some resource-sucking lift machine to get one to the top of the mountain; because it didn’t require driving an hour or four to get to the nearest ski resort; and because one could simply go out the back door, breathe the air, and have a good time in winter.

    No more; things have certainly changed. If asked the question, do we go back to this model, we can guess how the vast majority will answer. No way. Of course, that’s because we’re not polar bears. Because, as Steven Hawking suggests, when things get really bad, we can just pull out a new wax and ski around our new home – on a new planet.

    But how do we responsibly structure our sport in the face of catastrophe? We Nordic skiers, of all humans on this planet, have both the motivation, means, and in my eyes at least, responsibility to be leaders in this effort. Change may not be easy, but neither are rising oceans, or species extinction, drought, or famine.

    Most of us don’t live near Nordic ski areas. We must drive. It hurts to say this, but every time we hop into the car to go skiing we are making a choice. We are voting for a few hours of personal enjoyment and against a clean healthy environment. For us Nordic junkies, that is the inconvenient truth.

    Are we always car-pooling to races – or just not going because using a tank and half to go to one race is so resource intensive? How many of us will be biking to West Yellowstone this year versus flying? Why are Nationals at the extreme edges of the continent? Are we having second thoughts about driving an hour or two just for a few hours of ski training – many times a week (the race to count on-snow hours might as well be counted by miles driven)? How do we plan ski specific workouts to reduce and eliminate driving? How often are we replacing our ski equipment, and are we manufacturing renewable ski equipment? Do our trails and grooming reflect our concern for climate change and sustainability or some market pressure for corduroy? Do our racing programs promote a healthy human race, or merely this year’s group of racers? These are questions we all need to be asking about our beloved sport. If we are honest, the answers will feel very uncomfortable. But we will understand that change is necessary. Skiing is a luxury (yes, it really is); as such, it should be among the first thing we change in our lives. No doubt, one way or another, major changes lie ahead.

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