So far, 2014 has been a busy year for Protect Our Winters, the industry’s voice for action on climate change. POW’s presentations, programs, advocacy work and partnerships have given the group recognition as a major player in the effort to raise awareness about climate change. Their work is incredibly valuable to our industry, as more news emerges every day about the findings of climate scientists. The March 31 release of the Report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations group that periodically summarizes climate science, highlights the importance of POW’s mission as hundreds of scientists explain that the effects of climate change are happening much faster than initially projected.
We were honored to have POW kick off the New Year by hosting a breakfast at the SIA Snow Show featuring speaker Jeff Goodell, a contributing editor at Rolling Stone Magazine. Goodell presented his “Field Notes From the Climate Wars,” speaking about his research in the past ten years for articles about climate change for Rolling Stone, and for his two award winning books on the subject, Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future and How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate. After the presentation, Goodell told us, “This group could be the leaders in a big social change movement more so than any other industry group that I’ve spoken to. Your economic lives are at stake and you know what’s happening. The people I’ve spoken to this morning know what it means to have temperature change because they’ve seen it. That’s the world we’re moving into, and to the degree that we can articulate that, help prepare for that, and help people become aware of it, it’s a huge impact that your industry can have.”
At the POW breakfast, founder Jeremy Jones said the past year has been one of several important milestones for POW, and that future growth to help spread POW’s mission is extremely important. “We’ve hit several milestones in the last six months for Protect Our Winters and to officially have this climate discussion at the Show is one of them. We as an industry can be hugely effective on this issue; that’s why I created Protect Our Winters so that we can have a voice that we can take to Capitol Hill and do positive things. SIA has been a great partner from the get-go, we’re very grateful of the support since day one. There’s a lot of room for growth, especially to get SIA’s members more involved. As we head into 2014, that’s a major goal – if we want to make a real difference, we need the support of the entire industry behind us.”
After the Show, POW’s focus turned to the Olympics, where they worked with Nordic skier Andrew Newell on a campaign called “Athletes For Action.” POW and Newell gathered over 105 signatures from fellow Olympians on a statement that asked world leaders to recognize climate change by reducing emissions, embracing clean energy and preparing for a commitment to a global agreement in Paris in 2015. The effort was covered in media such as USA Today, the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post. POW Executive Director Chris Steinkamp said, “The Athletes for Action effort gained national attention; we worked with a team of students at Yale to help athletes such as Alex Deibold and Kikkan Randall write and distribute op-eds to major media to further support the Athletes For Action campaign. It was a huge opportunity for us to get POW’s mission out there during the Olympics, and it was really successful.”
The Athletes for Action campaign continued with POW heading to Washington, DC on April 3 with Alex Deibold and Andrew Newell to meet with US Climate Special Envoy Todd Stern. The group hand delivered the statement from the Olympians and discussed how the winter sports community can support Stern’s efforts.
Another big project POW is unveiling this week is a new documentary about coal exports in the Pacific Northwest called “Momenta.” The film features Jeremy Jones and Lucas Debari, and is narrated by POW board member Conrad Anker. “Many of our members asked that we get involved since it’s such a high importance issue in the Pacific Northwest,” Steinkamp said. “This is an area where the environment and snow sports are such a big part of the culture, and these coal exports could have a much larger impact on climate than even Keystone XL, which we know is huge. We wanted to do the film to help raise awareness and take action against this issue which is so important to our industry.” Be sure to check out the trailer at the end of this article, and go to Mplus Productions to find out more about the film.
POW has also been gaining recognition recently through the success of Powder Magazine Editor Porter Fox’s book, DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow. Steinkamp said the book has gained global attention, bringing the issue into human dimensions by featuring personal accounts of Fox’s travels around the world, witnessing firsthand the effects of climate change. “It’s an amazing book and has reached so many people with the climate change issue,” he said. “The February 7 New York Times piece about it was a huge boost to raise awareness of the issue, of Porter’s book and of POW’s work. We’ve been lucky enough to have a great company, Tactics, run our online store for us and Porter has agreed to give a percentage of the proceeds of the book to POW. We feel really grateful to be involved with all of this incredible work our partners are doing.”
As POW continues its tireless efforts to raise awareness of the issue of Climate Change, be sure to stay on top of POW’s work and support the group’s efforts whenever possible. To check out POW’s website, visit www.protectourwinters.org and visit the POW store to support POW by purchasing gear or a copy of DEEP: The Story of Skiing and the Future of Snow.