Time is running out. Scientists predict that the snowcap atop Africa's Kilimanjaro could be gone in only a few years, maybe as early as 2020. And that's only one of the many mountains seeing drastic ice melt linked to climate change.
"My home mountain range in the Indian Peaks Wilderness has had an increasingly smaller snow base depth in the past 10 years," an unnamed Colorado resident wrote as part of the American Alpine Club's climate change story collection. "I have seen the pika populations dwindle, the avalanche seasons and hazards increase substantially, and the alpine ice season decrease."
Policy is one of the ways to fight back, the American Alpine Club (AAC) and Access Fund believe. This week, the nation's top policymakers are meeting with renowned climbers and athletes for the fourth annual Climb the Hill event to talk about climate and lands.
“Climb the Hill is among our most effective ways to address the issues facing climbers on our nation's public lands," AAC CEO Phil Powers said. "I am extremely pleased that over the years, the teams that make it great have become ever more diverse, dedicated and well-versed in the policy agenda we bring to our nation's decision-makers.”
Athletes in attendance include Conrad Anker, Alex Honnold, Sasha DiGiulian, and Tommy Caldwell. There will also be representatives from prominent outdoor industry brands, such as Patagonia, Adidas, The North Face, CLIF, Brooklyn Boulders, and REI.
Increasing access to public lands, ensuring environmental protections, and balancing energy policies on public lands are the group's top priorities, specifically including:
- Regulation and reduced carbon pollution, such as a plan to regulate carbon pollution that reduces burdens on low-income communities while also mitigating the effects of climate change.
- Protecting the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
- Reducing and preventing methane gas emissions.
- Directing the President to meet the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
- Fund Renewable Energy Research. Adequately fund and support government agencies researching renewableenergy and climate change.
Climb the Hill comes the week after Protect Our Winter's two days of advocacy. While they were there, the House passed a bill to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas exploration. Approval in the Senate is next.
Follow the action on Capitol Hill at ClimbTheHill.org.