I was talking advertising with someone and they mentioned my non-conformist take on environmental issues could be problematic when it comes to obtaining support for WildSnow.com. It is a given that many advertisers tend to conform (in public, anyway) to the climbing/skiing industry popular norm in environmental thought, and they like supporting folks with the same views. Thus, I’ve been fortunate that our present sponsors respect me and my right to express myself enough to support this website — even when we’re not always on the same page politically.
But when you think about it, how could anyone who expresses honest opinion ever think exactly like everyone else? We would cease to be human if that was the case. Thus, any opinion blog worth reading will swing to either side of the norm.
In polite terms, I’ve been called a non-conformist and an independent thinker. At times I’m just plain wrong about things. Other times my way is an enjoyable and even productive approach to life. For better or worse, it runs in the family. My father was a non-conformist as well. He was a hippy in Aspen before being a hippy was cool, and even got thrown out of a restaurant for wearing a beard. I’m my father’s son in so many ways (though probably not in the hippy category, though I’ve tried). And that’s human as well. Life can be tough when you don’t go with the flow, but if a civilization intends to progress rather than devolve we need a variety of thought, including individuals who dance outside the box.
At any rate, here is a re-written version of my reply to the person I was talking advertising with (names are changed to protect the innocent). They were ribbing me about my take on environmentalism, but giving me kudos for trying to go paperless at the OR show by only taking USBs and CDs for press kits:
Hi A.D., I’m glad I green-redeemed myself by trying to go paperless at the trade show. I also shunned all those worthless plastic gewgaws that people haul out by the sackload, though I did score some chapstick on a rope that was made from recycled bee sweat. So, even though I’m now environmentally sensitive I appreciate your ribbing about my enviro blogging as it gets me thinking.
My take as an enviro-skeptic here at WildSnow.com is to call out the hypocrisy and political power mongering that is resulting in an amazing amount of talk with little to no effective action. In my opinion, most environmental activism these days has emphasis which is mostly wrong, and I intend to frequently express my opinion about that. Perhaps I should be more clear about this position in my blogging, as perhaps I do sometimes sound like someone who doesn’t give a rip about future generations and all that, when I actually do care as much as anyone.
While I feel we in North America have made significant progress in cleaning up our air and water by legislating rules for industry and transportation, I truly believe that the majority of enviro issues people are exerting energy on have little to no effect on stopping global warming, and frequently have little to no benefit in other areas as well.
I believe global warming is happening but don’t feel it can be stopped by attempted mitigation of human emissions. Slowed down perhaps, but not stopped (“attempted” being the operative word). Instead, in my opinion the only real solution is climate engineering. At the same time, since GW is already happening and can not immediately be stopped by any means, we also need worldwide adaptation. It is my opinion that all the talk and blather about GW tends to obfuscate these two simple things: adaptation & climate engineering.
Further, I don’t blame global warming for every interesting weather event, or for my headaches. I also believe global warming is being used as a political power base and as a fear tactic to manipulate people and build political power, I don’t like that, so I tend to see things through that lens.
Regarding the annoying euphemism “climate change,” it’s always happened and always will. So you won’t often see me substitute that word for the more precise term “global warming.”
Regarding outdoor recreation and environmental ethics I feel the general population needs more access to the backcountry, not less. Which is why I’m always questioning Wilderness and road issues, and feel motorized recreation has a place.
My ethical basis for being a backcountry access and recreation advocate is I feel the only thing that speaks power in our society (or most any modern free society) is direct tangible value. If the backcountry is valued for recreation, it will be cared for, resulting in resource extraction being done sensibly. If the backcountry is valued as some sort of spiritual preserve that simply locks up resources, then it will eventually fall to those who want those resources (which is actually all of us unless you’re dressing in spruce bark and living in a cave). That’s not the feelgood rah rah bandwagon, but that’s my take and I believe I’ve got a valid point of view or I wouldn’t continue to express it.
Along those lines, I strongly believe that the vast majority of outdoor recreation actually benefits from a network of roads in the backcountry. I’d like to see more roads and trailheads. I’m thus a skeptic about making the concept of “roadless areas” a god when it comes to benefiting the outdoor industry or outdoor recreation. I also believe roads are not nearly as destructive to the environment as some say they are, in fact, I believe most roads are “sustainable.” This is based on 40 years of direct observation in backcountry areas worldwide.
Regarding legal Federal Wilderness, I strongly feel we have enough in some areas, but need more in others. Before coming out strongly for or against any given Wilderness proposal, I’d study it with care regarding recreation access and variety combined with conservation, and then form opinion.
In the end, we should all remember one fact about opinions. If you agree with someone’s opinion it is wisdom, if you disagree, it’s just an opinion (or worse, to some folks). Hopefully my advertisers understand that. From what I’ve seen, our blog readers already understand and I thank all of you for that. Comments on!
WildSnow.com publisher emeritus and founder Lou (Louis Dawson) has a 50+ years career in climbing, backcountry skiing and ski mountaineering. He was the first person in history to ski down all 54 Colorado 14,000-foot peaks, has authored numerous books about about backcountry skiing, and has skied from the summit of Denali in Alaska, North America’s highest mountain.