Spending time in the mountains, snowboarders and skiers get to see first hand how climate change is affecting the environment and one season in particular, winter.
The closure of resorts due to a lack of snow where pro snowboarder Jeremy Jones once counted on for good riding is what caused the outdoor sports professional to set up Protect Our Winters (POW).
Protect Our Winters, which is made up of a collective of professional athletes and outdoor brands, is mobilising the outdoor sports community to lead the charge towards positive climate action.
With the past decade being the warmest on record, snow levels are rising in elevation and winters are shorter. In recent times, more and more resorts have had to rely on snowmaking to extend or salvage their ski/snowboard season. And in some areas, temperatures have often been so unusually warm that even snowmaking is not an option.
Winter outdoor sports in the US contributes an estimated $67 billion to the economy every year, while providing more than 900,000 jobs. Many workers and their families depend on cold, snowy winters for their livelihood, and mountainous regions across the US depend on the season to bring money and vitality to their communities.
Protect Our Winters focuses on educational initiatives, political advocacy and community-based activism. The organisation is also instrumental in educating young people to be environmental champions through school visits.
Protect Our Winters say: “We [Protect Our Winters] believe that educating and empowering the next generation to be future environmental leaders is one of the most important things that we can be doing to address climate change. And leveraging the influence of our group of professional athletes to engage and inspire the students is a powerful way to do that.
“Through our 45-minute multi-media Hot Planet/Cool Athletes in-school assembly, we focus on the athlete’s personal experience in the outdoors, and why they care so much, while providing an overview of climate science, examples of what’s happening, and how we can all make a difference.
“Designed as a turn-key assembly for both the athletes and the schools, it’s available free to any school interested in educating teens about climate change through an in-person, energizing, and informational climate assembly aimed at empowering students to address global climate change. In order to want to protect the environment, young students should first understand how special our outdoors are, and what’s at stake.”
Since launching the school assembly program in 2011, Protect Our Winters, alongside its partners The North Face and Clif Bar, has reached more than 60,000 students.
Protect Our Winters also provide a step-to-step guide, The Climate Activist’s Roadmap, for anyone to become a climate activist, including actions on holding members of congress accountable and speaking up about climate change to friends and family.
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. Follow Rosa on Twitter.