Protect Our Winters
Slashing First Tracks in the Blizzard of Climate Change Messaging
The one thing all skiers and snowboarders have in common is the question: "Is it snowing?" When the answer is "no" and suddenly it's 65 degrees at 10,000 ft. in February, even the drunkest ski bum will start searching for answers. Climate change? There is nothing simple about climate change and the information explaining it is often over most of our heads. Hopefully, a change is on the horizon. While the climate change industry is stuck on creating a global message, Protect Our Winters (POW) is doing the opposite. By taking a human approach, POW is simplifying the climate change message.
Protect Our Winters is creating awareness with an audience that is greatly invested in their environment but is also probably the last one the climate activists would target: skiers and snowboarders. POW was started in 2007 by professional snowboarder Jeremy Jones, who was reacting to ski resorts closing because they no longer received snow. In four short years, the organization has funded and organized a number of programs focused on renewable energy, recycling, and youth education. Additionally, the organization has produced a movie on climate change that screened at "all major US film festivals" as well as developed alliances with major apparel brands, resorts, and other like-minded organizations.
Could this be the blueprint of the future for communicating climate change? Climate change affects each climate differently, and in each of these climates, there are groups of individuals who either rely on the climate's resources to make a living or for recreation. It is in this individual and real-life connection where the message of climate change will be the most accepted.
A farmer in the Midwest probably isn't going to care about climate change until warmer temperatures start affecting crop yield. When the farmer's crops, and consequently, his income are affected, the farmer isn't going to ask climate scientists for the answers. The farmer is going to ask other farmers what's going on. Don't you think a farmer would listen to an organization of farmers who could explain what was happening?
I always try to compare the difficulties of explaining and understanding climate change to recycling. A picture of a landfill overflowing with cans and bottles is an easy for anyone to understand why they should recycle. Additionally, the process of recycling is simple. Place your bottles, cans and paper in a designated bin instead of the trash can.
When it comes to climate change, the clip of the polar bear swimming endlessly in search of ice is sad, but it provides no tangible evidence showing the harm of climate change. And by 'tangible', I really mean 'proof that ANYONE can relate to the harm is being done.' The next question is: 'How do you improve your own carbon footprint?' Drive less? Buy organic food? It really depends on your lifestyle, and that's exactly what POW is doing.
All that said, here is my call to action: climate activists, heed the approach of your fellow climate warriors, Protect Our Winters. Unless people can relate the effects of climate change to their own life, that poor polar bear is just going to keep swimming in the Great Sea of Intangibles.