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I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote

- Herman Melville


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Environment

Dec 03, 2018

Three Things Everyone Can Do to Fight Climate Change Right Now

Trump is in climate denial; it's up to us to turn the tides on climate change.

WRITTEN BY

Davey Braun

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay, Rage, rage against the dying of the light. – Dylan Thomas

At The Outdoor Journal, we’ve been discussing how the US leadership continues to let us down and outright deny climate change. But what can we do as individuals to stem the problem? Although the global scale of climate change feels too gargantuan for just one person to fight it, there are choices we can make on a daily basis that can make a difference. Our daily habits do have measurable results on our environment and make up an economic power over corporations and industries that need us to sustain them.

3. PLANT-BASED DIET

Stop eating meat and the Earth will thank you for it.

Stop eating meat and the Earth will thank you for it. According to the National Climate Assessment, a report released last week by the Federal government, “Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States.” The report asserts that “Climate change is also expected to lead to large-scale shifts in the availability and prices of many agricultural products across the world.” As crop yields drop and livestock populations fall off, a momentous shift towards plant-based eating may be inevitable. Beyond individual health benefits, a plant-based diet eliminates the environmental pressures caused by factory farming, an industry that is already contributing to climate change.

Photo by Miika Laaksonen on Unsplash.

According to a recent report that studied the impact of global food systems on climate change, the production of animal products generates the majority of food-related greenhouse-gas emissions, in fact, up to 78% of total agricultural emissions. For example, cattle require farmland, feed and fresh water in vast excess to plants like legumes, while also emitting the greenhouse gas methane. In a vicious cycle, we are growing plants to feed the animals that contribute to climate change (that we then slaughter to feed ourselves). Why not just cut out the animal factory farming from the equation?

At the individual level, researchers at the University of Oxford found that switching to a plant-based diet could reduce your carbon footprint from food by up to 73%. Zoom out to the planetary scale and we find that if everyone on Earth removed meat from their diet it would free up 75% of farmlands – that’s the size of the US, China, Australia and the EU combined.

While the idea of switching to a plant-based diet may appear daunting to some, one approach to try would be to commit to one plant-based meal per day as a start, and scale up from there.

2. SLOW FASHION

The fashion industry contributes the same amount of greenhouse gas as Russia per year.

1999’s Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk asserted a social commentary on consumerism within the United States. “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” Consumers who purchase new clothes and quickly discard them based on rapidly changing trends might not realize that it takes 2,700 litres of water to produce a single t-shirt. At The Outdoor Journal, we’ve exposed the environmental harms as well as the poor working conditions beget by fast-moving fashion.

According to an analysis of the World Resources Institute summit, the fashion industry contributes 5% of global greenhouse gas emissions – which equates to all plane travel across the planet, or the yearly emissions impact of Russia.

As individuals, we can pull the reins on the fashion industry by changing our mindset to a more sustainable, slow fashion movement. You could do your research to discover the most environmentally conscious brands and boycott the bad-actors. Reach out to your favorite brands with your concerns. Or you could buy clothes less often, shop at vintage stores and learn to repair your worn clothes. Cheers to making this New Year’s resolution to feeling more satisfied with the clothes that you already own.

1. GET POLITICAL

For those of us who are truly concerned with the mounting perils of climate change, one option would be to put your money where your mind is. In a similar vein to Patagonia’s CEO donating the company’s entire $10M Trump tax cut to non-profit groups who work on issues related to climate change and the environment, we could each pledge our tax refunds to the difference-making group of our choice.

Or we could look to the youth of the nation for inspiration and take to Capitol Hill. Juliana v. US, also known as the Children’s Climate Lawsuit was filed in 2015 and now includes 21 plaintiffs between the ages of 11 and 22, who argue that the government’s engagement in policies that contribute to climate change have caused irreparable harm to their generation by denying them a safe climate. The plaintiffs are seeking a judgment that forces the government to initiate policies to curb climate change.

It is our fundamental right to a clean environment.

As the Children’s Climate Lawsuit argues, it is our fundamental right to a clean environment. However, a devil’s advocate might argue that individual choices are illusory – that changing your eating and shopping habits might give you a psychological benefit of feeling like you are making a difference, while in the grand scheme of things, you’re not. But that’s not true. Even though we as individuals have less direct power to fight climate change than the industries and corporations that are contributing the most harm, we do have a voice. As consumers, our choices of what we eat and what we buy are an ongoing conversation with companies. You can further that conversation by voting in elections, attending debates and contacting politicians (it’s never been easier with social media). We have the ability and the responsibility to enact change. Indeed, the time for action is nigh.

Read More: A Buried Report; Trump Refuses to Believe it – President Trump recklessly disregards the dangers of climate change in the face of resounding scientific consensus.

Cover Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash.

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Athletes & Explorers

Dec 13, 2018

Steph Davis: Dreaming of Flying

What drives Steph, to free solo a mountain with nothing but her hands and feet, before base jumping? “Bravery is not caused by the absence of fear."

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WRITTEN BY

The Outdoor Journal

Presented byimage

In the coming days the Outdoor Journal will release an exclusive interview with Steph Davis, follow us via our social networks and stay tuned for more.

Do you have to be fearless to jump off a mountain? Meeting Steph Davis, you quickly realise: no, fearlessness is not what it takes. It’s not the search for thrills that drives her. She’s Mercedes travelled to Moab, Utah to find out what does – and to talk to Steph Davis about what it takes to climb the most challenging peaks and plunge from the highest mountaintops.

Steph Davis, getting ready to jump. Photo by Jan Vincent Kleine

At noon, when the sun is at its highest point above the deserts of southeastern Utah and when every stone cliff casts a sharp shadow, you get a sense of how harsh this area can be. Despite Utah’s barrenness, Steph loves the orange-gold landscape with its towers and elegantly curved arches of sandstone. But Steph is not here because of the natural spectacle. Here, in this area which is as beautiful as it is inhospitable, she can pursue her greatest passion: free solo climbing and BASE jumping.

Castleton Tower… Look closely. Photo by Jan Vincent Kleine

Today, Steph wants to take us to Castleton Tower. We travel on gravel roads that are hardly recognizable, right into the middle of the desert. Gnarled bushes and conifers grow along what might be the side of the road. Other than that, the surrounding landscape lives up to its name: it is deserted. Steph loves the remoteness of the area. “One of my favourite places is a small octagonal cabin in the desert that I designed and built together with some of my closest friends. It’s not big and doesn’t have many amenities but it has everything you need: a bed, a bathroom, a small kitchenette … and eight windows allowing me to take in nature around me. That’s pretty much all I need.” Steph Davis cherishes the simple things. She has found her place, and she doesn’t let go.

No ropes, no safety net. Photo by Jan Vincent Kleine

Castleton Tower is home turf for Steph. She has climbed the iconic red sandstone tower so many times she’s lost count. The iconic 120-metre obelisk on top of a 300-metre cone is popular among rock climbers as well as with BASE jumpers. Its isolated position makes it a perfect plunging point and it can easily be summited with little equipment – at least for experienced climbers like Steph Davis.

“It would be reckless not to be afraid. But I don’t have to be paralysed by fear.”

Steph is a free solo climber, which means she relies on her hands and feet only – not on ropes, hooks or harnesses. She loves to free solo, using only what’s absolutely necessary. She squeezes her hands into the tiniest cracks in the stone and her feet find support on the smallest outcroppings, where others would see only a smooth surface. Steph climbs walls that might be 100 metres tall – sometimes rising up 900 metres – with nothing below her but thin air and the ground far below. She knows that any mistake while climbing can be fatal.

Flying. Photo by Jan Vincent Kleine

The possibility of falling accompanies Steph whenever she climbs. Is she afraid? “Of course – it would be reckless not to be. But I don’t have to be paralysed by fear.” She has learned to transform it into power, prudence, and strength. “It’s up to us to stay in control.”

“You have to learn to face your fears and accept them for what they are.”

That’s what, according to her, free soloing and BASE jumping are all about: to be in control and to trust in one’s abilities. “It’s not about showing off how brave I am. It’s about trusting myself to be good enough not to fall. It takes a lot of strength, both physical and mental. You have to learn to face your fears and accept them for what they are.”

Touchdown. Photo by Jan Vincent Kleine

Steph Davis likes to laugh and she does so a lot. She chooses her words with care, and she doesn’t rush. Why would she? There’s no point in rushing when you’re hanging on a vertical wall, with nothing but your hands and feet. Just like climbing, she prefers to approach things carefully and analytically. That’s how she got as far as she did. “I didn’t grow up as an athlete, and started climbing when I was 18,” she smiles, shrugging. But her work ethic is meticulous and she knows how to improve herself. Whenever she prepares for an ascent, she does so for months, practising each section over and over again – on the wall and in her head – until she has internalised it all. She does the same before a BASE jump and practices the exact moves in her head until she knows the movement is consummate.

Steph loves the orange-gold landscape with its towers and elegantly curved arches of sandstone. Photo by Jan Vincent Kleine

“Bravery is not caused by the absence of fear.”

Would Steph consider herself brave? She says that she wouldn’t know how to answer that, you can see the small wrinkles around Steph’s eyes that always appear whenever she laughs. In any case, she doesn’t consider herself to be exceptional. “I’m not a heroine just because I jump off mountaintops,” Steph says she has weaknesses just like everyone else. But she might overcome them a little better than most of us do, just as she has learned to work with fear. “Bravery is not caused by the absence of fear. It is brave to accept fear for what it is, as a companion that you should sometimes listen to, but one you shouldn’t be obedient to.”

She slows the car down. We have reached Castleton Tower. It rises majestically in front of us while the sun has left its zenith. If Steph started walking now, she’d reach the top at the moment the sun went down, bathing the surrounding area in a golden light. She takes her shoes and the little parachute; all she needs today. Then she smiles again, says “see you in a bit”, and starts walking. Not fast, not hastily, but without hesitation.

All photos by Jan Vincent Kleine

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