Climate Change is real. I will not debate that with anyone. If you can’t acknowledge its existence and its threat to future generations I don’t have a lot of patience for you. It is personally the single most important issue for me. I work in the outdoors. I depend on cold clean water for my work, and I want my children to have a planet that is better than it is now. Now…moving on.
It’s F’ing hot. The summers are hotter and longer, and the winters are shorter but more intense. Every few years we have a bad winter, and every few years we have a bad summer. 2015 was a shit year for water and anyone who depended on it for their livelihood, which is all of us…so ya. Areas of our homewater heated to lethal degrees for aquatic life. Small creeks and tributary streams dried up. We lost fish, we lost invertebrates, damage we are still seeing today. Everywhere you look there are no solutions. Just deniers, more questions, and no movement on the issue.
As a young voter this is frustrating because the effects of climate change are alarming. As a fly fishing guide the issue is a concern, as a father, an outdoorsmen, it is a core value to me…the environment. Maybe it is because I live in the pacific northwest and I am able to see its effects first hand. Rampant wildfires, low snow packs, hotter dryer summers, absurdly cold winters. All the signs are there for even those that don’t understand basic science. We are part of the problem and I want us to be part of the solution. Now I’m not about to get into my opinions on how we should combat it on a national or even global level…but ya know…stop burning fossil fuels…and maybe something might change. When I started delving into the issue back in college I found that there was no real solution. The policy changes needed on a national level were to hard to put through due to the stranglehold of the oil industry on our economy, but there wasn’t a lot going on on a local levels because of lack of funding. We were still learning about climate change and its effects while I was in school. I remember it being a hot topic of discussion in many a science class. I didn’t get a degree in science or anything, I just found sciency stuff intriguing and enjoyed getting easy A’s. I’ve got an IT and Management degree and I am a fly fishing guide so figure that one out.
Being scientifically inclined, I began thinking about how a global problem could actually be fixed. Especially when every one is talking doomsday scenarios instead of how to fix shit. Early on in my fishing I began seeing the effects of climate change. Those big ass cutthroat in the Teanaway aren’t there anymore for a reason. As well as the bulltrout. Years ago there weren’t as many organizations working in the field of conservation, but as climate change and its effects have become more of a problem, more organizations have popped up to facilitate a solution. There are multiple conservation groups and their work is on the front lines of climate change. If you dig science and seeing how the environment is all connected together man…hang out with some river conservationists.
Recently we’ve had the Paris Agreements, countries have made commitments to less fossil fuels and more renewable energy methods, just this past week Ireland began the process of divesting from all fossil fuel companies and turning to renewable resources. That global change is coming. I will see it in my lifetime. But more needs to be done. Recycling, reducing your personal and families carbon footprint, all these things help. But more needs to be done. So much damage has been done that we have to step out of the menial tasks of separating plastics and glass out, more than just conserving water. We have to save things. Go out of our way to make a contribution. Hundreds of years of take and take, and more so than ever in the past 50 years, we can no longer just sit idle and wait it out. Its time to give back. If we want it to get fixed.
This works two fold. One, we are giving more back to our home, the planet, gotta balance it all out, and two we are cultivating a culture of being mindful of our environment. I see the lack of this culture all the time in the wild and public lands I visit and use to work. Trash left…everywhere, lack of respect for damn near anything, did I mention trash, shotgun shells left, fishing tackle, pop bottles, beer cans, there is always something. That needs to change. It changes by teaching our children that littering makes you an asshole. My kids know it, they call people assholes who litter, and they help their dad clean up after assholes all the time. But I take it a step further. I had the opportunity to get involved with one of these organizations that is working on the front lines. A non profit that works more in depth with cold water conservation and in turn battling Climate Change.
I volunteer with Trout Unlimited. Like a ridiculous amount of time. But my job and how I live allows me to be able to do that. I don’t make a lot of money, nor do I need a lot living small and simple with my family. This allows me to chase my passions. One of which is fly fishing and the pursuit of wild trout. But the second and what has become a deep passion of mine these past few years…is conservation of cold water fisheries. I am a Trout Unlimited Endorsed Guide which means I spread that message of cold water conservation and support it through my business.
Trout are my climate change barometer. They let me know how we are doing. Better than we were a few years ago I can tell you that. Becoming involved with Trout Unlimited has given me access to all sorts of tools and weapons to use in the fight against climate change. I get to work with real life scientists…and they are just as nerdy as you would think. I get to listen to all sorts of experts, sit in on financial meetings that decided the fate of millions of dollars of grant money. Money that goes towards massive projects that benefit our natural waterways and help alleviate the stress of climate change on our world. People ask my input, I am able to contribute and develop partnerships with people who are all striving for the same things. I am part of something. A movement, one that spends its time in the forests and rivers of our public lands. I give back more than I take. A negative footprint.
I am not working on some far away river, this isn’t benefiting some other country, or state, no I am doing this right in my backyard. Sometimes within a few hundred yards of my apartment. Other times high in the mountains away from any sense of people. I get my hands dirty working to better our public lands that I recreate and work in, for others, for my kids, for future generations. It is incredibly fulfilling. And with everything going on right now in our country, volunteering…is something that will always be held in high regard among your fellow citizens.
“Volunteering is the ultimate exercise in democracy. You vote in elections once a year, but when you volunteer, you vote every day about the kind of community you want to live in”.
When I leave this world I want it to be better for it. I want my children to not have to worry about a solution to this climate change crisis. Instead I want them to enjoy their lives knowing that myself and others like me put forth the time and effort to fight climate change for them and set us on a path where we are mindful of the environment and our relationship with it. Politicians and world leaders can continue to argue and deny facts. They are of little consequence in the end, as they change every few years anyway. But we as individuals are each given a set amount of time on this planet. It is our duty to watch over it and leave it better for the next generation. Climate Change will not be solved by massive policy changes, or sweeping renewable energy revolutions. We have to change the way we think about the environment, we have to fight for it, and then safeguard it for generations to come. It starts in your community, in your local public lands, talked about and discussed in your community meetings and at the coffee shop every morning. Then you have to get involved in some way. I battle climate change with conservation and science. And I’m just a trout bum….What are you doing?