Just a few weeks ago, the Outdoor Alliance coalition launched a joint climate campaign, asking the outdoor community to speak up for climate action. Although climate is problem on a different scale than the policy priorities we typically focus on, we have a responsibility to join the movement to address the biggest threat to the outdoors. Yesterday, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the effects of climate change on outdoor recreation, a great step toward climate action. You can view the full hearing here.
Climate change is an urgent threat, and there are many voices calling for climate action with a vast array of potential solutions. Among these voices, outdoor enthusiasts are important because our experiences outdoors give us particular insight into how the natural world is changing and because climate change also threatens the sector of the economy that depends on outdoor recreation ($887 billion a year). Outdoor adventurers have also been effective at moving conservation legislation forward in recent years, so we can capitalize on our power to help address climate issues.
Before the hearing, we put out a call for stories about how outdoor enthusiasts like you have witnessed climate change, and we got many incredible stories that we were able to share with the committee. You can view our full testimony at right (or just click here), though this does not include the full selection of climate stories we shared with the committee.
Chair of the subcommittee on National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Deb Haaland (D-NM), opened the hearing by reflecting: “Across the country, our public lands support a robust outdoor recreation industry. The industry is becoming increasingly vulnerable to climate change, however. Climate change is impacting our recreational landscapes on National Parks, shifting the range of iconic trees in Joshua Tree National Park. Landscapes that have existed in time immemorial are disappearing.”
The witnesses, from the New Mexico Wildlife Federation, a former Olympian and indigenous activist, a National Park guide and POW activist, a representative of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and Vista Outdoors, spoke movingly of how they had seen climate change affecting the landscapes their lives, businesses, cultures, and members rely on.
Outdoor enthusiasts continue to have an important role to play in demanding that lawmakers take action on climate. While individual action matters, climate change is a global-scale problem that needs policy solutions on a national and global scale. It’s hard to know exactly what the likely next steps are here, but we’re encouraged that climate is getting more attention in Congress, and a full airing of the problems we face feels like a necessary, if somewhat frustrating, step forward. If you haven’t already, please sign the petition for climate solutions, and we’ll keep you in the loop on climate activism opportunities: