A few decades ago, the thought of people fighting to save the environment conjured up images of angry hippies hugging trees and protesting on the steps of government buildings all across the United States. But just as the stereotypical look of an environmentalist has changed over the years, so has the conversation about protecting the planet.
In the Opening Morning Keynote at the 2016 SIA Snow Show, Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, sat before an attentive room of snow sports representatives and addressed an issue that has been creeping into the industry’s dialogue for years. Climate Change. The issue of global warming and the rise in the average temperature of the earth’s climate system is understandably of interest to an industry that profits off of the promise of snow and cold weather. As climate change continues to threaten that promise, leaders in the outdoor industry have become some of the most active advocates for protecting the earth. And through a thick Dorchester, Mass. accent on a sunny morning in Denver, Colo., Gina McCarthy spoke words of applause and encouragement to those people.
“People that buy your products care more about the natural world than most of our population,” McCarthy recognized, further stating the importance of applauding the people and businesses that are working to promote change and a positive impact on the environment. “Solutions are there. We need positive energy instead of political angst.”
Appointed by President Obama in 2009 as the Assistant Administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, McCarthy has continued to build on a thirty-year career addressing critical issues on a local and state level. Speaking to a mix of employees of the snow sports industry, McCarthy’s words were direct and urgent as well as positive and hopeful.
“A lot of the big energy choices we’re going to be making are going to be my choice,” she confidently stated, noting the continued strong rise of renewable energy resources in the United States. The demand for growth in the renewable energy field has created a more affordable environment for manufacturers and other businesses in the snow sports industry to become more environmentally friendly. “If you think that manufacturers and large term production companies aren’t thinking about climate change, you’re wrong,” said McCarthy. The demand for more environmentally responsible products and practices is high, and McCarthy hopes that it will stay that way.
“We can’t wait around for change,” she said. “We need to accelerate it. It has to be a dinner conversation, not just a conversation between academics.”