Boulder, CO -
Jeremy Jones, eight-time Big Mountain Snowboarder of the Year visited one of the most world-renowned hills in the world, this time without a snowboard. On Wednesday, January 27, Jeremy Jones along with a coalition of winter sport filmmakers and industry representatives shared a new perspective on climate change with lawmakers on Capitol Hill: the economic, social and intangible values of winter.
Jones represented Protect Our Winters (POW), the environmental non-profit he founded in 2007 as a voice for the winter sports community in the climate change discussion. Jones was joined by Chris Steinkamp, Executive Director of POW, Steve Jones, Founder of Teton Gravity Research (TGR), Elysa Hammond, Director of Environmental Stewardship of Clif Bar and Elizabeth Burakowski, PhD student in Earth Science, Complex Systems Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.
The two-day agenda included a screening of Generations, a short film about climate change and winter released this fall by TGR and Protect Our Winters and sponsored by outdoor industry leader, The North Face. Generations discusses climate change through the perspectives of those for whom snowy winters have a deeper personal significance. Featuring former ski resort developer Bill Jenkins, climatologist Elizabeth Burakowski, and some of the world's most accomplished ski and snowboard athletes, the film humanizes and contextualizes the debate on climate change by exploring the intrinsic value of snow to people across generations and cultures.
In addition to the numerous awards won by Generations on the film festival circuit, the film received hearty congressional applause Tuesday evening among a theater of Congressmen, aides, staff and local environmental leaders, after being introduced by Congressman Jared Polis. Following the screening, Jeremy Jones, Steve Jones, Hammond and Steinkamp hosted a Q&A on their experience with climate change in the field and how winter sports enthusiasts everywhere can be part of the climate change solution.
The coalition met with key lawmakers and staff largely from US mountain states who are also leaders on climate change and in key positions on the hill to influence the direction of this issue. Together, they shared their experiences, illustrating first-hand how climate change has had direct effects on the winter sports culture and the $6 billon winter sports industry. Participants included Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), Representative Peter Welch (D-VT), Congressman Jay Inslee (D-WA), and senior energy and environment staff for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO), Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) and Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). The members and staff that the group met with are all key players in the climate and energy debate, most holding senior positions and even chairmanships on the central committees of influence.
The film showing, combined with one-on-one meetings, provided the Capitol Hill community with a fresh perspective of climate change, through the eyes of those on the front lines.
"When we started production of Generations with The North Face over a year ago, the goal was to communicate the climate change we all see every day, to as many people as possible. Being here on Capitol Hill a year later, talking with the individuals who are literally deciding how climate change will effect us for generations is one of the most important things I've ever done," Jones said.
"The perspective provided by Generations, and the teams in the meetings this week, provided valuable and often overlooked component of the climate change debate in Washington," explained Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO). "The ski industry is the lifeblood of my district and climate change is already taking a toll," he said. "These athletes are on the front lines of this crisis, watching snow, ice and communities disappear all over the world. In sharing their story with Congress, they are sharing the stories of many communities who are all desperately watching their way of life disappear with the warming planet. While the loss of skiing isn't the worst consequence of climate change, these individuals show us how we all stand to be personally affected by this global problem."
Learn more about Protect Our Winters online at protectourwinters.org.