Winter is Coming to Westeros

Winter is Coming to Westeros

Game of Thrones fans, take note.

Winter is coming to Westeros but we may very well be facing another reality.

Winter. We looked forward to it as kids as we counted down the days to school vacation. It’s what cheers us on as adults as we dive into mountain-loads of work  — the promise of December, crisp air and powder snow. The thrill of skiing, snowboarding, sledding down slopes.  The patience required to build a snowman. What if we can’t share these childhood memories of winter with the next generation? 

Warmer temperatures – caused by the build up of heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere – have significant effects on ice and snow. Athletes Jeremy Jones and Gretchen Bleiler summed it up best when they wrote: “There is an uneasy feeling that winter, as we know it, is on borrowed time.”

Team Climate is working on raising awareness for the impacts of climate change on the winter sports community. Our team members, Diana Madson, Taylor Rees, Tom Owens, Kaylee Weil, and myself, all come from various academic backgrounds and are bringing a diverse set of experiences together to mobilize the global winter sports community around climate change.

Diana is a second year Master’s of Environmental Management (MEM) student at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies (F&ES).  Her research examines climate change mitigation and adaptation solutions in Western mountain resort communities.

Taylor, also a second year MEM student, is focusing on environmental communication and media.  She comes from a background in media campaigns and film production. She is program manager of the Yale Environmental Film festival.

I, Bo Uuganbayar, am a second year MEM candidate with a background in economics and renewable energy. My research focuses on natural resource management and corporate sustainability in the developing world. I’m particularly interested in tapping into crowd-sourced solutions to solve large-scale environmental problems.

Tom, a third year MEM student, is focusing on public policy and coalition building to shift the US from fossil fuels. Tom is one of the many co-founders of PowerShift, a climate change conference that has trained 35,000 young people to organize in their communities and apply pressure for Congress to act.

Kaylee is a fifth-year MEM student. Her research focuses on environmental communication, and she is working with companies to develop powerful ways to communicate their environmental messages to the public.

Climate change impacts are directly affecting the winter sports community and the US economy. The snow sports industry is has over 21 million community members, generates an estimated $66 billion in revenue, and supports close to a million jobs in the US. In partnership with Protect our Winters (POW) and with support from the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, we are bringing the climate change discussion to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

We believe that the Olympic Games are the perfect forum to build a coordinated media campaign to reach new audiences, reinvigorate the climate change discussion and highlight the important connection between winter sports and climate change.

We hope to shift the mainstream media coverage around the Olympics to include a discussion of climate change. We plan to raise climate change as an urgent issue in a new context, outside of traditional, technical conversations, and engage audiences in a creative, meaningful and interactive way. We will mobilize the global winter sports community around climate change and tell the personal stories of athletes, spectators and winter enthusiasts.

Before February, our team will be developing our website, and creating original content like blog posts, short videos and interviews. We will be utilizing social media to draw attention to the climate change story and engaging with athletes and local spectators to help them tell their personal stories.

We’re looking forward to sharing our story with you!