climate change

Mark Beaumont – The Making of a Hero

 

 “You’ve just got to decide you’re never going to stop”

These were the words from POW UK ambassador Mark Beaumont when asked how he achieved the incredible feat of cycling around the world in under 80 days (78 days, 14hrs & 40 minutes to be precise), breaking no less than two world records and raising the bar significantly in the world of ultra-endurance cycling.

Inspired by Jules Verne’s classic adventure novel Around The World In Eighty Days, Mark began his journey in Paris on 2 July and cycled an average of 16 hours (240 miles) a day, and only slept for five hours each night. He cycled through Europe, Russia, Mongolia and China, before reaching Australia and New Zealand. He returned through North America before “sprinting” through Portugal, Spain and France. It’s hard to express quite what an extraordinary achievement this is – for most people, cycling 100 miles would be a major challenge! Succeeding in cycling around the world in 80 days has not only redefined the limits of endurance sport, it has made the previously impossible, possible.

But what’s that got to do with climate change you may ask? Actually, quite a lot.

Making the Impossible, Possible: Turning Concern, Commitment, and Confidence into Success

Mark Beaumont - Arc de Triomphe
Mark Beaumont – Arc de Triomphe

Remember the four-minute mile? There was a time when many believed that it was impossible for humans to run a mile in under four minutes. Runners had been trying to break this barrier since the late 1800s. Then, in 1954 Roger Bannister ran the mile in 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. A month and a half later, John Landy ran even faster. Now, it is broken routinely.

I can’t think of a better example of the immense power of human psychology and the manifestation of belief. In the words of William Arthur Ward, “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it. If you can dream it, you can become it”. Conversely, self-doubt is often the single greatest barrier to success.

In a piece to camera for POW UK, just before his expedition, Mark talks about the parallels between his approach to the challenge, and the psychology behind something as overwhelming as climate change. It’s his conviction that if we are concerned enough about something, we will commit to the preparing for the challenge at hand. The more we prepare, the more our confidence grows that we can succeed, and once we believe we can succeed, nothing can stop us.

Why Doom and Gloom Just Creates More Doom and Gloom

The attitude that leads to ground-breaking achievements like these is so far removed from the doom and gloom scenarios we’re so used to hearing on the news. Climate Change, The War on Terror, Global Conflict – not only are we constantly bombarded with negative news stories, but they are also nearly always presented in a way that’s big, scary, and insurmountable. I don’t know about you but it certainly doesn’t motivate me to get off the sofa and do something positive. I’m more likely reach for a tub of ice-cream and the nearest box-set. It’s incapacitating in its negativity.

But what if we all took a bit of Mark’s incredible can-do attitude and just decided we’re never going to stop. Ok, so we’re not all going to become athletes, but if we believe in something and commit to its cause, we have immeasurable strength in numbers. We can achieve anything. It may not happen overnight, but if we are concerned enough to make one change at a time, committed to taking positive action, and have the confidence to drive it forward, then the ripple effect will be unstoppable.

I can already hear the climate deniers and eternal pessimists muttering about this being hippy dippy nonsense. Try telling that to Mark Beaumont, I dare you!

Ever felt like being a hero? Well now you can be.

Join me and let’s commit to taking positive action to Protect Our Winters!

 

 

 

Steep decent, no fall zone climate change

Commit, you’re in the no fall zone!

With the global climate now around 1 degree warmer, we are now in the no fall zone for climate change and the very future of snow sports. As my guide used to say, commit, you’re in the no fall zone! You fall here, you’ll die.

These pictures show the speed of glacial retreat at Tignes, one of Europe’s best-known summer skiing locations:

Grand Motte summer 2013, glacial retreat. No fall zone.
Grand Motte summer 2013
Grand Motte summer 2017, glacial retreat. No fall zone.
Grand Motte summer 2017

Snowsports – on the front line of climate change

Snowsports are on the front line of climate change. In the cold and wild places, climate change is very real – it’s happening, now and quickly. There is profound glacial retreat around the globe, snowfall patterns are more erratic and high-temperature volatility during winter means less consistent snow conditions. In North America, witness the tragic news of the cancellation of the world famous Whistler Camp of Champions this year due to glacial retreat in a high snowfall season. In Europe, the extensive glacial retreat and early closure of summer camps.

Les Bossons Glacier, Chamonix - Glacial retreat 2004 -2017

In the No Fall Zone

Remember that tingly feeling you get when the guide turns around and says in a gravelly French accent (at least in La Grave or Chamonix), “no fall here, you fall you die.” You remember the massive cliff you are traversing over, that space sucking at you. Hell, it’s a flat traverse, why’s my heart beating like this, why am I nervous? Then you remember that sweet and massive field of untracked powder…the fierce joy that comes with ripping through it with your friends…the fact that you can actually ski or snowboard. Take a deep breath, focus, off we go – BOOM!

powder field
Power field

Commit, or die

Helps you focus doesn’t it, that ‘you fall, you die’ stuff? Well, that’s where we are with climate change peeps, staring over the cliff. If we fall, certain death, if we don’t, good times. So take a deep breath, buckle up, remember the POW and commit. The good news is we have all the tools we need to tackle climate change by getting off fossil fuels – increasingly cheap renewable energy sources and electric cars. The bad news is that we’re not moving quickly enough, so we need to do more or no-one is going to be doing many powder turns in the future.

Concerned?

Concerned? You should be. We know this is a big, scary, global problem that our governments and big business should be held accountable for – as individuals we often feel voiceless and powerless. That’s where POW comes in. We will guide you through the science and actions that we all, as a UK winter sports community, can take to drive effective change on climate change. Together, we have a louder voice and stronger impact. Together, we can take positive action to make a real, difference.

Let’s make change happen together and protect our winters for future generations.

Join Protect Our Winters.

inconvenient sequel climate change

#BeInconvinient: Al Gore and Theories of Change

Climate Reality’s screening of ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth To Power’ was followed by an in-depth panel discussion on August 16th.

Al Gore’s second acclaimed documentary on climate change prompted an evening that questioned theories of change, power, and what’s best for our planet today.

Engaging with politics and social movements can be overwhelming. From endless Facebook posts and rants to overheard conversations at the gym, places once used as a refuge to block out the weight of the world are no longer immune to the discussion. For many – including the whole POW UK team – the mountains have always been that comforting escape. But with the ever-growing climate crisis, it appears that now more than ever, our winters are threatened by climate politics even more than our social media timelines.

As a relative newbie not only to the Environmentalist scene but also to the general forum of ‘International Politics’, nothing could have helped me navigate my own thoughts on climate change better than watching ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Bringing Truth To Power’ screened at Paramount Pictures’ HQ in London last week (in partnership with The Climate Reality Project).

Admittedly, a quick Google search before attending gave me some background on who Al Gore actually is. Serving as Vice President of the United States from 1993 – 2001 under President Bill Clinton, the man’s insight into real-life democracy goes without saying. But what really inspired me about Gore – whose mission to confront the climate crisis serves as the thread of the documentary-movie itself – is the way in which he so carefully, strongly and effectively uses his voice to inspire change. Even if you’re not an ex-Vice President, that’s something that any of us can do if we make that choice.

“If anything, ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ highlights our own duty to Protect Our Winters now – simply by getting involved in the issue.”

The film comes as a sequel to ‘An Inconvenient Truth’, released back in 2006. Sprinkled with terrifying and emotional examples of the climate crisis in catastrophic action around the world, we followed Gore’s ambition – from his Tennessee ranch to Paris via India and beyond – in placing the environment at the top of any and all political agendas.

What effects me most about this issue is the complicated mechanisms and puppetry going on behind the scenes in nations around the world – and the multitude of vested interest that can block progress. At a political level, systems are always at play, but ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ was clever enough to fairly acknowledge (almost) all of them while continuing to ask the simple question of what’s wrong and what’s right for our planet today.  

The film doesn’t come without criticism, however. An impressively engaged audience discussion followed the screening last week, within which one individual (a senior representative of IKEA UK, in case you’re wondering) felt disappointed by how the film slightly missed the individual perspective. Of course, it’s the nation states and global corporations that can really act to make an immediate impact – but that’s not to say that individual decisions aren’t as important as we continue to confront the climate crisis globally.

A brilliantly ambitious panel discussion was programmed to close last weeks event, within which the byline for the film: ‘Bringing Truth to Power’ was explored. This too proved problematic, with the panel chair questioning whether ‘taking truth to power’ really was the best theory of change – especially for those in low positions of power themselves.

Renewable energy sources and projects, the role of the media, international brand responsibility and more were topics of discussion to follow. But perhaps one of the most poignant – and hopeful – points to be raised was that of our own ability to transcend the climate crisis beyond a political conversation and into a social movement. The everyday person’s power to make informed choices, and eventually create a tipping point for this huge problem, does exist. If anything, ‘An Inconvenient Sequel’ highlights our own duty to Protect Our Winters now – simply by getting involved in the issue.

An easy way to that is by learning more about the politics of climate change – and one of the best things about this film is that you don’t need to have watched the first one. Give it a try. Then I challenge you not to start thinking about and wanting to make better everyday choices for the environment – at whatever level.


‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Bringing Truth To Power’ is in selected UK cinemas now.

Join 3.17 million people by following Al Gore on Twitter here:www.twitter.com/algore

Learn more about The Climate Reality Project here: www.climaterealityproject.org/

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