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The most dangerous worldview is the worldview of those who have not viewed the world.

- Alexander von Humboldt


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Environment

Dec 03, 2018

A Buried Report; Trump Refuses to Believe it

President Trump recklessly disregards the dangers of climate change in the face of resounding scientific consensus.

WRITTEN BY

Davey Braun

Climate change is not just knocking on the door anymore. It’s over the threshold and it’s looking to blow your house down. 2018 has brought us near apocalyptic signs of climate change to both coasts of the United States. We’ve seen biblical fires on the west coast and a series of devastating tropical storms on the east coast. Like “the nothing” in the 1984 film The Neverending Story, climate change is sweeping over the planet like a dark storm with no regard for life.

The data is alarming. Sixteen of the seventeen warmest years in the 136-year record have occurred since 2001, with 2017 as one of hottest years on record. The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season was the first on record to see seven storms generated over warmer, subtropical zones. And on the west coast, more than 6,000 wildfires ravaged over 1 million acres across California this year, causing damages worth more than $2.56bn – the most destructive and deadly on record.

A BURIED REPORT

On Black Friday, the Federal government published a new report detailing the nation’s imminent risks to the dangers posed by climate change. Specifically, the National Climate Assessment lays out how the United States economy and the health of each individual are at stake.

The report warned that “more frequent and intense extreme weather and climate-related events” are looming that will pose a threat to water resources, air quality, food and even national security. We can expect further deterioration to US infrastructure, in addition to natural resources like oceans and coastlines.

Although the report by the Federal Government contains critical information about our near future, the report was released on Black Friday, in an undeniably intentional move to sweep it under the rug.

UNITED STATES LEADERS ARE FAILING US

In a state of utter denial, President Trump has whipped up a reality distortion field around the imminent dangers facing us and even around the concept of climate change itself.

In a now infamous tweet from 2012, Trump put an unsubstantiated political spin on global warming. “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”


And this past week, he confused global warming with weather, tweeting, “Brutal and Extended Cold Blast could shatter All Records – Whatever happened to Global Warming?” – something you’d expect your Grandpa to say, to which you’d respond, “Oh, Grandpa.”


To see all of the global warming related tweets in between, check out all 115 Tweets on the subject, as reported by Vox.

Scientists have been outspoken that while “global warming” describes temperature increases, “climate change” is a more apt description of the process by which humans emit heat-trapping greenhouse gases that cause extreme weather events.

When asked about the National Climate Assessment released on Black Friday, Trump dismissed the report, saying “I don’t believe it,” after admitting that he “read some of it.”

We’re seeing Trump’s belief system play out in policy decisions. In June of last year, Trump pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Accord, making it the only country refusing to commit to prevent global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

Photo by Carolina Pimenta on Unsplash.

NORMALIZING DENIAL

Trump’s statements on climate change, although baffling to most of us who choose to educate ourselves on the subject, nevertheless seep into the consciousness of his base, unfiltered, and propagate like a virus. Although tweets may seem unofficial and less significant than a public address, they normalize climate denial in the face of resounding scientific consensus. Trump’s message is clear – his policies and decision-making will disregard the dangers posed by climate change.

Notwithstanding Trump’s distorted reality, extreme events are expected to increasingly disrupt and damage critical infrastructure and endanger public health. Read More: About the 3 Things Everyone Can Do to Fight Climate Change Right Now.

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Travel

Jan 15, 2019

Not Your Father’s Ski Trip: Jackson Hole, WY

Inspired by images of her dad’s Jackson Hole college ski trip, the author heads north to tour the Tetons and tack a few pictures to the family scrapbook.

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WRITTEN BY

Kela Fetters

The author’s father launching a cliff at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort cerca 1987

This film shot of my father going big on a set of ridiculously thin, twin-tipped K2s cerca 1987 instilled in me a deep gratitude for today’s fat freeride sticks and a sense of duty to keep the family’s cliff-hucking legacy alive. Scrapbook open on his lap, my dad extolled the terrain of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, which he visited “back in the good ol’ days” at Colorado State University. He described a steep wonderland besotted with cliffs that beg for reckoning. After the past several seasons of wimpy Colorado snow totals whilst Jackson churned out foot-deep day after foot-deep day, I was enthused by the resort’s inclusion on my 2018-2019 Ikon Pass. With my own graduation looming in May, I figured the time was right for some Teton escapades. Like father, like daughter.

Car outfitted with a socioeconomically oxymoronic stash of ramen and expensive ski gear, I punched seven hours northward and arrived the night after a vicious storm cycle spat 20 inches of fresh flakes onto the mountains. The next day popped bluebird and my posse navigated the foreign slopes via trial, error, and the inexhaustible freneticism of college kids on vacation. We nabbed fresh tracks on Headwall and Casper Bowl, giggled down pillows on the Crags, and pinballed around the Hobacks. A ride up in the iconic Jackson Hole tram revealed a closed Corbet’s Couloir, ostensibly requiring another wave of coverage before its seasonal unveiling. I was forced to settle for a waffle at Corbet’s Cabin instead of matching my dad’s drop into the legendary chute. With the blood of my father and powder-fueled adrenaline surging through my veins, I willed myself over the most tantalizing cliffs on offer in Rendezvous Bowl.

The iconic Jackson Hole Mountain Resort tram, cerca 1987
Corbet’s Couloir: a timeless classic
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, cerca 1987

In the words of the great Cyndi Lauper: Oh daddy dear, you know you’re still number one, but girls, they wanna have fun.

It’s part and parcel of parenthood to agitate over the safety and well-being of one’s children. I’ve subsumed backcountry skiing into my hobbiesnew territory for this family’s lineage. On my nascent out-of-bounds outings, my father, a textbook concerned parent, grumbled about avalanches, terrain traps, and my insurmountable naïvity. Several seasons of diligent education, one avy bag, and countless snow pits later, I’ve earned his reluctant acceptance, if not enthusiasm, for my backcountry pursuits.  In the words of the great Cyndi Lauper: Oh daddy dear, you know you’re still number one, but girls, they wanna have fun.

Finding deep snow on Headwall
Pillows aplenty on the Crags

After two days of charging in-bounds, my psyche longed for the solitude of the skintrack. Teton Pass, Grand Teton National Park, and the resort sidecountry make the area a veritable playground for backcountry enthusiasts. It’s a family affair in Jackson; a fraternal ethos is evident in the fact that 97% of the nearly 4 million acres of Teton County are federally owned or state managed. Locals are quick to mark their territory on Teton Pass with the exclamatory hieroglyphs of first tracks, but the terrain is ample enough to find virgin snow. After giving the snowpack several days to stabilize post-squall, we found wiggle room on north-facing aspects along the Mail Cabin Creek drainage. Our final line of Day 1 was the Do-Its, a bifurcated powder track that converges and meanders twelve hundred feet back down to the road. At the hill’s zenith, minute snowflakes collapsed into liquid and rolled from our hardshells. We stood atop a wind-plumped knoll and observed the gnarl of peaks, foregrounded by Mount Taylor and Mount Glory, tumbling into a horizon of exposed rock and liquescent white. The unperturbed flank below screamed for human contact. I was all too happy to oblige the siren’s call with a quick tuck into the void. My skis made that sanctified first contact with the snow below. A crescendo of polestrokes invoked a maelstrom of flakes to drown the world in white. Hips squiggling, mind locked to the minutia, dopamine and adrenaline flooding the nervous system, and a raven on high with a vantage point a ski cinematographer would kill for. Then I burned through the mountain’s vertical; the dance with gravity ended in an expository wave of white smoke. I looked back and the sublime evidence was a single, undulating track across the otherwise unblemished face.

Cloud inversion over the Teton Valley from the top of Mt. Glory
Top of Mt. Glory

My final day in Jackson came courtesy of Exum Mountain Guides, an 80-year-old Teton-based guiding service that offers instruction and adventure on rope and skis in North America, the Alps, Andes, and Himalayas. The service traces their lineage to local legends of the 1930s like Glenn Exum, Paul Petzoldt, and Barry Corbet. They’re the granddaddy of Jackson guiding services and the resident experts on Grand Teton National Park. Despite the government shut-down and limited National Park operations, dedicated employees were plowing the entrance road and ensuring access to some of the Tetons best snow staches. My guide for the day was Brendan O’neill, who informed me of the birth of his daughter Jessie three weeks prior as we puttered to the Taggart Lake Trailhead.

If newborn Jessie was taxing this new dad’s sleep and energy reserves, his athletic, assiduous pace on the skintrack suggested otherwise. I asked Brendan about fatherhood, hoping to glean some insight into my own dad’s relationship with raising a daughter. He hopes to have Jessie on skis the second she can walk; he would be thrilled if she took to alpine or nordic racing, but amenable if she chose not to compete; he is excited to show her the world beyond the boundaries of a ski resort. As we muscled up towards Amphitheater Lake, I mused that twenty years from now, Jessie might look at pictures of her dad guiding in far-flung locales and make plans to fill and transcend those footsteps. I wonder if Brendan knows how much she will look up to him and his accomplishments.

Exum Guide and new father Brendan O’neill

  Even the evergreens projected patriarchy: the tallest trees nucleated their sapling broods with paternal solemnity, each molecule of powder glistening in the shaggy green branches. We broke through the forest onto snow-covered Amphitheater Lake, a cirque bounded by the bald, mangled granite of Teewinot to the north and Disappointment Peak to the west. On a snack pitstop, we watched another party of skiers lay down tracks in Spoon Couloir, a steep, enticing chute on Disappointment Peak’s lower haunch. Brendan seemed to sense my desire to get after a big alpine line and suggested we bootpack the Spoon must have been his newly acquired parental mind-reading superpower. After crossing the lake, we cut a haphazard zig-zag to the top of the Spoon’s apron and transitioned to the bootpack. 500 feet of vertical boot-punching propelled us up the gut and bookended the nearly 5,000 feet of vertical notched from trailhead to objective. From our humble perch on Disappointment’s flank, an electric blue sky slumbered atop a soupy mass of clouds, hallmark of a Teton Valley temperature inversion. Backgrounded by this topsy-turvy atmosphere, I skied down the hard-packed snow of the spoon’s handle into its apron of softer powder.

The Spoon Couloir visible on looker’s left of lower Disappointment Peak (center)
Bootpacking up the Spoon

Grand Teton, senior pinnacle of its range, poised with patriarchal authority over Middle Teton, Mt. Owen, and all the rest

To redeem the remainder of our hard-earned vertical, Brendan led us through a mellow glade percolated with unrumpled pillows aplenty. Matching his cuts through the pines was reminiscent of a childhood spent following my dad around the resort as I learned to trust my edges and my body. As I ripped skins back in the parking lot, giddy with alpine energy, I turned to gaze up at the Grand Teton, senior pinnacle of its range, poised with patriarchal authority over Middle Teton, Mt. Owen, and all the rest. I owe this unforgettable trip to Jackson Hole to my father for choosing to raise and inspire (and generously fund) a skier.

Thanks to Exum Mountain Guides for making this trip possible.

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