Posts Tagged With: climate change

Jeremy Jones

Jeremy Jones is a 9-time Big Mountain Snowboarder Rider of the Year and a climate change activist. He has snowboarded professionally for the past 15 years and has noticed big changes in his workplace: glaciers are receding at an alarming rate, winters are warmer and less predictable, and in the US, winter resorts have had to close as erratic snowfall decreases revenue. All because of climate change.

After seeing how fast our world is changing, he felt compelled to get involved in promoting climate change legislation.  In 2007, he founded Protect Our Winters, a non-profit community of snow athletes, all with a vested interest in reducing our effect on the climate. The 25-member group organizes around climate legislation and clean energy and has taken their voices to legislators in DC and high schools throughout California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado. The group aims to involve the rest of the $67 billion snow sport community, among which 12 million are involved seriously in the US alone (some serious bargaining power!)

Jones notes that while environmental lobbyists target Congressional leaders to push legitimate change, the oil and gas industry spends infinitely more money on fueling climate change denial (Exxon Mobil alone contributed more money than the entire environmental community). The result is that half of Congresspersons (even those who know better) pretend climate change is a farce- and many of them (notably, the Republicans) are scared they will not be electable if they change their opinion. Jones’ brilliant solution is thus to engage more people power to convince these legislators that they will be supported and drown out the money being thrown at them (after all, what legislators want most is continued power). He compares the current climate of climate denial to listening to 1 doctor out of 100 that tells you you don’t have cancer or listening to the crazy guy who’s still convinced he can fall off the planet:

If 98-percent of scientists agree that climate change is real and human caused, don’t give equal time in the press, and on congressional panels, to the one guy who thinks differently. We don’t do that for people who think the earth is flat.

Jones believes that “America’s political leadership has failed us” and that without extensive action by the government, our grandchildren won’t be able to enjoy pastimes such as skiing or snowboarding. A recent study of climate change’s effects on Aspen, Colorado, found that at current levels, the town will look like Amarillo, Texas by 2100. He says:

The most important thing a snowboarder can do is write a letter to their elected officials and urge them to support climate action and clean energy legislation — use your voice and demand change. The second is to vote and become involved in local politics. Change happens locally and you can have a very big part in creating the change we need. Thirdly, become as knowledgeable as you can about the science behind climate change to offset the misinformation out there. And fourth, be smart about your carbon footprint — measure it now, and reduce it wherever you can.

One step Jones has taken to reduce his carbon footprint in the snow sport industry is to stop using helicopters and snowmobiles to get to the top of slopes. He’s found that backcountry hiking instead has greatly increased his connection to the environment and the thrill of his sport. He’s producing three documentary movies (Deeper, Further and Higher) that aim to show other athletes the value of this method. And overall, he urges more people to get outside:

I don’t think the problem on climate change is the guy going down the street and hopping on his local chairlift. That’s not ruining the environment. I mean, we gotta continue to live life. I’m a huge advocate of getting people outside. I think that this world in general would be a much better place with people experiencing the outdoors.

His Protect Our Winters website has an awesome pledge page, which identifies the 7 most effective actions he thinks everyone could take at least once a month:

  1. Get political
  2. Educate yourself
  3. Find your biggest lever
  4. Be vocal, bug your friends
  5. Talk to businesses
  6. Change your life and save money
  7. Join Protect Our Winters

Jones has also made some really cool videos about climate change’s effects on the mountains:

Mr Jones Goes to Washington:

and Generations: A Skiers’ and Snowboarders’ Perspective on Climate Change

Jeremy Jones is proof that we all can make a difference in our communities, whatever our profession!

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Marshall Herskovitz

In light of my efforts to keep this blog all-inclusive, this post is devoted to Marshall Herskovitz, a Hollywood movie producer. Herskovitz has produced movies such as Blood Diamond, The Last Samurai, and Traffic and is now using his cred to spread awareness of climate change. He recognized that climate change needs more day-to-day recognition in American media and decided to use his marketing mega millions to achieve just that. Herskovitz wants an American energy revolution.

His campaign is based on the idea that:

“we are in a very rare moment in history where the solving of one problem would actually solve four or five or six other intractable societal problems we have in the United States- unemployment, the deficit, our trade deficit, health, national security…. An energy revolution may be the very thing we need as an economy just to move forward into the century.”

He sees the difficulty in getting Americans to act at the scale needed to mitigate climate change- he says:

“People think that if they change their light bulbs, or if they buy a car that gets 32 miles-per-gallon, that they’re contributing to the solution of the problem. But that’s not going to stop climate change.”

Herskovitz’ ideal is a total overhaul of our economic scheme in which America focuses on green jobs and clean energy sources. He cites World War II as an example of the possibility of completely altering production when there’s enough pressure to do so- in WWII, automobile plants were converted to make military vehicles and not a single car was produced for 4 years. He sees that type of transformation as strong enough to make a turnaround on climate change.

Marshall Herskovitz’ first effort is the “I AM” campaign, which is working with Global Green USA to raise awareness of the effects of rising sea levels on the US’ big cities and unite all Americans in fighting climate change. His celeb-packed PSA declares that “150 million Americans will be affected by rising sea levels in our lifetime unless we demand that our leaders invest in green technologies and green jobs NOW.”

Apparently Herskovitz also has a mega film in the works, the details of which have not been announced. I am really looking forward to seeing more from Herskovitz and I applaud him for using his status to change the status quo. The entertainment industry is one of the most powerful and has so much potential to reach a large audience, so I really think his efforts can go far. The question remains though… if even Hollywood gets it, then why is Congress still lagging?

Hear Living on Earth’s Interview with Marshall Herskovitz

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Oren Lyons

I remember feeling deeply moved the first time I heard Oren Lyons speak at a climate change conference in Washington, DC, the summer of 2008. I found him to be a very eloquent and poetic speaker and his words resonated with me, so much so that I can recall them three years later. What I liked most about him was that he approached climate change in a holistic manner. As opposed to focusing solely on the scientific facts or the specific effects it will have on one part of the world’s population, he instead emphasized the entire human race’s reliance on the health of the earth. As he said “all life comes from the Earth; everything comes from the Earth. We produce nothing.” “The Earth doesn’t care what happens to us- there’s no mercy in nature-none.” We are vulnerable, despite what our egos propel us to believe otherwise. And as a result, “our tenure is in question.” It is thus our own responsibility to ensure our continuation, and to do that, we must confront and lessen the impacts of climate change.

He tells of an Onondaga Nation story of a Peace Maker that visited the people and told them: “You who see far into the future, that is your responsibility to look out for those generations that are helpless, that are completely at our mercy. We must protect them.” When I typically think of climate change, I have a hard time imagining seven generations down the line. I usually just think instead of the changes I’ll see in my own life. But when I consider Oren’s words, I feel that sense of responsibility he speaks of and it moves me. I feel privileged to be living at a moment when the planet is not-quite-yet wholly screwed up. But other generations may not be so lucky. And to avoid spiraling into the self-defeatist thinking that “I, as an individual, cannot possibly counter all of the destructive acts otherwise occurring”, I find truth in his words that: “as long as there is one to speak to and one to listen, one to sing and one to dance, the fight is on. So that is hope. To not give up. To try, and to use reason.” Despite all the frustrations of political inaction, as Oren says, “Leadership was never meant to take care of anybody. Leadership was meant to guide people; they take care of themselves.” And this is why I admire him. At 80 years old, he is still pushing people to believe that they possess the power to improve their environment and the future of populations to come. So as long as you, reader, are thinking about the people I’m focusing on, maybe telling someone about them, or at least eventually hopefully realizing that individuals can make a difference, then we are being responsible in our own way. It’s only a start, but it’s a good start. So thank you for reading again 🙂 .

About Oren: Born in 1930, Oren Lyons is an artist, professor of American Studies at SUNY Buffalo, Faithkeeper of the Turtle Clan of the Onondaga Nation, and important activist for indigenous people’s rights. He helped spearhead the creation of the Working Group on Indigenous Populations in the United Nations in 1982 and has continued to fight for indigenous people’s rights and for greater environmental stewardship. When given a chance to speak to the United Nations on behalf of the Six Nations, he sacrificed all other interests to “speak on behalf of Mother Earth,…because we are so dependent,… everybody’s well-being, that we should speak to the fundamental issue: of the health of the Earth.”

Categories: New York, Oren Lyons | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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