Mountain athletes push progress over perfection in climate fight |

Mountain athletes push progress over perfection in climate fight

Jason Blevins, Colorado Sun
Stacy Imler, left, of Atlanta, laughs as she buys a reusable tumbler sold to raise funds for POW -- Protect Our Winters -- during a happy hour held in collaboration with Patagonia on the floor of Outdoor Retailer on Jan. 30, 2020 in Denver. Serving Imler are POW volunteers Emma Kokenge, center right, and Adam Drewry, right, both of California.
Andy Colwell, Special to the Colorado Sun

Caroline Gleich remembers a decade ago when advocating for climate policy became an essential part of her career as a professional ski mountaineer. As she reported the impacts of climate change from far-flung corners she explored for her work, she was besieged. 

“Told to shut up, called a glacier killer, a hypocritical ecoterrorist, a polluter. So many attacks and people saying the meanest things,” the Utah athlete said. “That had a silencing effect. So for a few years, I felt like I lost my voice on climate because I was afraid to speak up.”

Flying in planes for vacations. Driving trucks. Heating homes. Burning fossil fuels. It’s all a part of modern life, and for years climate activists have weathered bitter criticism of their globetrotting, gear-making impacts while urging corporations to reduce their emissions and calling on politicians to enact policies to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases damaging the ozone and warming the planet

Protect Our Winters, or POW, the athlete-driven group on a mission to convert the enthusiasm of runners, skiers, climbers, paddlers and outdoor players into climate change advocacy, recently unveiled an ethos they are calling “Imperfect Advocacy,” emphasizing progress over perfection.

POW is hoping to mobilize the 34 million Americans who love to play outside as imperfect soldiers who admit their carbon impacts but remain dedicated to swaying corporations, elections and policy toward a carbon-neutral future.

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