I guess engaging with climate change can be a daunting prospect, due to its huge and complex nature. But if we pause, no matter the place, we can identify one way our surrounding is connected to climate change.
The moment I paused was when I stood atop Mt. Fort’s glacier in Switzerland, a pristine place surrounded by beautiful towering mountain peaks. Peaks so huge that humans seemed insignificant to their gigantic size. But as I traversed the glacier on my snowboard it dawned on me that this natural phenomenon was in fact battling a fight, a fight with humanity and losing.
Insignificant as it may seem, but it was when I noticed a ski lift weirdly out of action that encouraged me to ask questions and discover a new understanding on climate change. So what I thought was an unused ski lift due to an on-going fault, turned out to be functional but unusable due to the retreating glacier un-stabilising the pylons. I initially couldn’t understand why anyone would build infrastructure knowing it would be unusable after a short time, but as I continued to explore my newfound interest in the glacier it was clear that this ski lift never intended a shelf life so early. As it turned out the glacier was retreating at an unprecedented rate due to temperature rise, resulting from climate change.
I did not need to be a climate scientist to acknowledge that whatever was going on at Mt. Fort was a problem, but it certainly inspired me to study the science further. Today, I am more intrigued, surprised and astonished by climate change and how it brings nations and individuals together. Therefore, what captures my interests the most is engagement with the issue, and one community that continues to do this well is the snowboard community.
This community, though relatively small and unassuming, have been tackling climate change in a motivating way, reaching and educating people of all ages on the topic. Organisations such as ‘Protect Our Winters’ are just one group who have helped lobby climate policies in the US and here in the UK we have seen riders demonstrating their skill outside parliament without snow… the future they fear most. What is more on the 5th December 2015 individuals from the community, together with other pioneers from ‘Sustainable Innovation in Sport 2015’, visited COP21 to share the message that their community is creatively increasing climate change awareness through sports.
I’m glad I took that moment to pause atop Mt. Fort so to find my own way of understanding climate change and reasons to protect the destruction wrought by it. It was an experience that helped me understand that engaging with the global problem is not a one size fits all, but less daunting when you find your own niche.
Photo courtesy of Lauren Quinnell.