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How the Snow-Sports Community is Pushing the Limits of Filmmaking and Climate Education

By Stephen Lacey

"How the Snow-Sports Community is Pushing the Limits of Filmmaking and Climate Education"

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http://protectourwinters.org/wp-content/themes/default/images/logo2.pngI love it when my passions collide. As both a life-long skier and a writer concerned about the impact of climate change, it’s nice to see that the action-sports community is trying to educate folks about climate and energy issues – particularly when the audience they’re influencing is a much younger generation.

http://protectourwinters.org/wp-content/themes/default/images/button-coalkillssnow.pngEvery fall, I go on a buying spree and collect most of the year’s ski videos that have just been released. Each year, the filming, riding and themes get better. But this fall, there’s a new video coming out that makes me particularly excited: All.I.Can.

This two-year project features stunning cinematography capturing the impact of climate change at mountains all over the world. The filmmakers blend a healthy mix of personal stories, breathtaking images of environmental change, and of course, some of the best skiing ever captured on film.

Check out the 6-minute trailer below. (And if you haven’t seen what athletes have been doing on skis in, say, the last 10 years, prepare to be blown away.)

All.I.Can. Official Teaser from Sherpas Cinema on Vimeo.

The push to educate people about the impacts of climate go beyond film making. A growing group of high-profile snowboarders and skiers are making a political push too.

In fact, just last week, three riders representing Protect Our Winters (POW) held an event in Washington. They weren’t there to tell stories of glory though. Rather, they were there to talk about the impact of climate change on the terrain they’ve been riding for decades – and to ask Congress to do something about the problem.

As a die-hard follower of skiing and snowboarding, I find it odd that I had to move to Washington, DC to meet some of my heroes in the sport. But sure enough, I found myself on Capitol Hill last week listening to three of the top ski and snowboard athletes talk about riding the biggest mountains in the world.

Veteran big-mountain snowboarder Jeremy Jones, big-mountain skier Chris Davenport and Olympic snowboard half pipe silver medalist Gretchen Bleiler went to Congress to convey a message: The mountains are changing. Fast.

All three told stories about not being able to ride where they used to, about permanent snowfields that have melted away, and about the people in communities who have been impacted by the rapid decline of glaciers and snow pack.

“I started seeing all these huge changes in the mountains and it opened my eyes,” explained Jones, the founder of POW. “It was such a huge eye-opener for me, and I knew we had to do something as community.”

And avoiding action isn’t just an environmental disaster in the making, it’s also a major economic one.

“This is a $66 billion industry in the U.S.,” explained Jones. “These are people’s livelihoods. It’s not just about the mountain — you’re talking about whole communities that are based around this industry. If the mountain isn’t open, everyone is impacted.” Indeed, the American snow sports industry supports over 600,000 jobs.

POW was on Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress and deliver a letter signed by 500 pros and action sports enthusiasts calling for action on climate change. The group was joined by Colorado Democratic Senator Mark Udall and Auden Schendler, director of sustainability for the Aspen Skiing Company (and periodic contributor to this blog.) The event was emceed by our very own Joe Romm.

If you’re an snow-sports addict like me, you can find out more about POW on their website. Or check out this video:

‹ Green Jobs: The Big Picture (Almost)

Half of All U.S. Latinos Live In The Country’s Most Polluted Cities ›

12 Responses to How the Snow-Sports Community is Pushing the Limits of Filmmaking and Climate Education

  1. Pete H. says:

    Stephen I share your dual passions. Perhaps you could do a post on what US ski areas are doing to deal with this issue and how they rate?

    I ski Berkshire East which installed a windmill to produce 100% of its electricity needs and burns local wood to heat the buildings. They still rely on dirty diesel for running the cats.

    I also ski Killington who claim that 100% of electricity is offset by enewable Energy Credits (RECs). How credible are these RECs? K uses a group called Renewable Choice Energy to supply its RECs.

  2. Gagar says:

    I am fond of skiing. Especially moguls and and free ride. I am French. The fact is, when I go in my local mountains, it’s at least a 4 hour drive, or 10 hour drive. Which could be fine once or twice a year, if I were fine on my carbon impact all year round. But 2 years ago, I took the plane to live a dream of 3 incredible days at CMH in British Columbia. At the time, I thought I would do it again every, let’s say, every 4 years. Then, I had to come up with this : with such a trip, I have capitalized CO2 for my entire life. The problem with skiing is that you need to get there. Whatever renewable electricity you use for your heaters. Thanks for reading.

    • Jim says:

      Yes! Yes! Do skiers (and these skiers especially) recognize the hypocrisy? I both fully believe in anthropogenic global warming and love skiing, especially tele. I’ve given up the skiing though due to the impacts. Skiing as an industry/activity wouldn’t exist without the infrastructure of the petro-carbon economy. The gear, the powered ski lifts, helos (including the ones used for the opening shots) – all non existent.

    • ENJ says:

      Right on. The truth is, until skiers and resorts start talking about the difficult things like this, it’s just the frosting, and not the cake. Smaller houses, fewer trips, less-frequent gear upgrades…it’s all got to be addressed. Anybody regularly driving long distances or flying (let alone helicoptering in) to their time in the mountains is, unfortunately, a big part of the problem. Still, it’s nothing but good for winter-sports enthusiasts to start talking about this, especially given how many wealthy people (with influence) are big winter sports fans.

    • Mike#22 says:

      Yes, I see that there were over 12 million ski visit days to Colorado alone last year. What percentage flying in, with all the extra impacts from contrails?

      Somehow failing to connect conspicuous consumption of fossil fuels with the impacts of fossil fuels (see Climate Progress for details on the impacts of fossil fuels). Some green electric from Canyon Hydro or a nice windmill doesn’t make these travels emissions go away. Be nice if the movie when it comes out ends with all these skiers swearing off leisure trips on airplanes and telling everyone else to do the same.

  3. Gagar says:

    This said however, I think we can present the problem like this : climate change is 30% transportation, 30 agriculture and deforestation, and 30% home heating. Once we have dealt with this, well, then the energy will be too costly for more CMH. :-(

  4. BBHY says:

    I would like to see the ski resorts install car chargers so I can drive to the slope in my electric car without burning dino-fuels.

    That doesn’t seem like too much to ask, is it?

    • Mike#22 says:

      Not too much, rather the main point. Transportation to and from skiing is about 75% of the overall CO2 pollution, usually, although here we have a movie about pros flying all over the world to jump from helicopters, filmed by other helicopters, all burning prodigious amounts of jet fuel.

      Not against resorts–just fossil fuels. The resorts of all kinds need to find a CO2 neutral way to get their customers in and out, and worry a little less about whether their wind power is surplus from wind projects (bad?) or obtained from new wind projects (good?).

  5. Felix Kramer says:

    Great story, and I can’t wait to see the film. As another who loves to ski, even knowing the round-trip transportation is only a small part of the problem, I’ve been working to try to get a green corridor between the San Francisco Bay Area and Lake Tahoe, where I go often.
    I got some satisfaction in January when I was able to drive the 225 miles in a plug-in car without refueling for the first time. See To Tahoe and Back in My Chevy Volt. We need a quick-charge infrastructure along the way so pure EVs can make the trip, and charging facilities at resorts.
    And since every time I’m there I hear locals say “I can’t buy a plug-in car until it’s four-wheel drive,” CalCars.org is advocating to Mitsubishi, Renault, and soon we hope Ford, Subaru and others, to bring their announced 4WD/AWD plug-in hybrids to the U.S. market ASAP. This market can’t wait to buy millions.

  6. Sebastian says:

    Don’t just go for the ski movies, give the snowboard movies credit. They are doing the same job. Look for Deeper by Jeremy Jones. An climate focused big mountain film..

  7. Anne van der Bom says:

    The Netherlands could use a similar action: ‘protect our Elfstedentocht‘.