It’s almost mid October and there’s still plenty of snow out there. The end of the season seems to go on and on. It’s been one of those amazing winters we will talk about for years.
On my local community facebook page, the climate deniers are banging on about how it’s been cold so that ‘proves’ climate change isn’t real, etc. But standing here in mid spring we’re clearly looking to a long hot summer. There are already fires in NSW and Gippsland, and in Queensland consumers are being warned not to set their air conditioners too low for fear of triggering blackouts if we crank up the air con during the expected heatwaves. The Bureau of Meteorology cautions that the dry weather that is happening across much of the continent is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
A good winter always feels like a dream. Where there is no drought, no fire, just the endless hope that the next storm front will be better than the last, and that urgent need to get out amongst it. Spring brings home the reality of our warming earth. Yes, fire and drought have long been a feature of our landscape (well at least for the last 65 million years or so). But when the Europeans arrived in the headwaters of the Australian Alps there was regular winter snow in places like Harrietville. Already, in a century or so, snow is a fleeting visitor in the sub alpine valleys.
The fact is the world is warming up, and the best available science says humans are the cause of it. So, to truly love our winter landscapes we need to turn that love into visible work: we need to do everything in our power to slow climate change if we are to have a hope of avoiding the worst of what’s coming (of course we have already locked in decades, if not centuries of warming and changed weather but it’s not too late to act).
As a campaigner with an environmental group, I spend much of my time working on climate change and I know so many inspiring people in the movement. As a skier, climber, hiker and very part time MTB rider, I often feel like there are very few inspirations in the Australian outdoor scene who are doing the same work. Sure there are some people who use their profile for the greater good (rugby player David Pocock comes to mind) and some fantastic skiers who do the same – especially local women Nat Segal and Anna Segal.
But generally you have to look overseas for further inspiration. Forrest Shearer is one of those who is really stepping up and putting his shoulder to the campaign wheel (while still getting in 200 days of riding a year!)