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A true conservationist is a man who knows that the world is not given by his fathers, but borrowed from his children.

- John James Audubon


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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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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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