Is this type of advocacy beneficial?


A group of skiers, including former olympians, were brought in by the WWF on Friday to the U.N. climate talks in Poland. The group handed a petition to Polish Environment Minister Macjiec Nowicki, urging the U.N. talks to consider the impact climate change is having on their sport. Along with the irony of a group responsible for environmental damage making this appeal, this plea also runs the risk marginalizing a very important issue through an overly simplistic anthropocentric viewpoint.

The complexity of the climate change issue and its potential consequences are unclear to a majority of the members of the public. With climate change still being thought of as “global warming” by many, this appeal will only exacerbate the myth that the primary ramification of a shift in climate will be a temperature rise of a few degrees. There also is the view that the fight against climate change is a special-interest concern, rather than a necessary reaction to a crisis facing all of humanity. Adding yet another special-interest group to the campaign will only perpetuate this belief.

One could argue that any type of advocacy can be beneficial, but if we look at the situation a little differently, this stunt appears to be even more absurd. If the concerns of the skiers were weighed, is it even feasible that the kind of action needed to mitigate climate change would be taken? It would be absurd to invest 2% of world GDP, as estimated by some, in order to keep snow on the slopes.

Not only is the sport of skiing environmentally damaging itself, but it represents an unsustainable and excessive lifestyle that has been at the root of the problem. It would be irresponsible to not mention the various efforts of ski resorts to become more eco-friendly such as Aspen offsetting 100% of its electricity use through wind farms, but as discussed previously at Smash the Mirror, a move towards sustainability should include an examination of processes and lifestyles, instead of simply trying to do things less badly. It is understandable that the WWF chose to take advantage of a publicity opportunity, but they should have thought twice and considered the implications.


One Response

  1. I have to agree. As tempting as it is to say “the more the merrier” and ignore this, it really does just perpetuate the misconception that climate change is about snow or that it is an issue for well-off elitists. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The rising sea, the dying aquatic eco-systems and more volatile growing seasons obviously all dominate any possible snow concerns on the list of potential effects, and yet likely get much less recognition combined.

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