Category Archives: News

We’ll Always Have Paris

When the Paris Climate Accord was first made public in late 2015, I wrote that some of my greatest hopes for the agreement were not necessarily in the non-binding limits to greenhouse gasses, but in the language describing the role of people — social systems, communities, traditional knowledge, and indigenous cultures.

You can read these two paragraphs below — but in the meantime, as the  President has decided to singlehandedly withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, it is increasingly important to make change on the local and regional level and commit to doing what we can as individuals, communities, educational institutions, businesses, and local governments.

As of today, 10 governors, 82 mayors, and many business leaders, colleges, and universities have joined together to continue to “adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement”

We must take the lead to demonstrate that individual action can have a substantial and tangible impact, despite sweeping political pronouncements. There are many resources available to you:

Call your governor, mayor, or city council.

Talk with local businesses.

Make your voice heard.

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If you’re interested in reading more, the two sections I am most drawn to in the Paris Agreement are, one, Article 7, Paragraph 5:

Parties acknowledge that [climate] adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-responsive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based on and guided by the best available science and, as appropriate, traditional knowledge, knowledge of indigenous peoples and local knowledge systems, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant socioeconomic and environmental policies and actions, where appropriate.

The second is Article 12:

Parties shall cooperate in taking measures, as appropriate, to enhance climate change education, training, public awareness, public participation and public access to information, recognizing the importance of these steps with respect to enhancing actions under this Agreement.

Article 7 recommends a decision-making process vastly different from the one we are engaged in here in the U.S.: an inclusive, “participatory and fully transparent” process that acknowledges the complexities of climate issues and their roots in a combined system of social, economic, and ecological practice.

Article 12, in its entirely, is dedicated to a participatory education process and demonstrating the vital role played by individuals and the diverse communities affected by climate change–and not simply those largely responsible for it.

 

 

Live Your Dream

I am super excited to share with everyone that the American Alpine Club has awarded me a Live Your Dream grant for the 2017 Arctic Trail Run.

The goals of the grant, which is supported by The North Face and other regional organizations, are to empower athletes “to dream big, to grow, and to inspire others.”

I am honored and humbled to have this support to help me build on my dream & share my experience as widely as possible.  I’m also excited to be an ambassador for the AAC during the process of this year’s run.

I wrote in my application back in February:

The goal of completing the 500-mile Arctic Trail Run in 12 days will push my abilities as a mountain and trail runner beyond anything I have experienced before. In doing so, I will also be able to draw increased attention to the critical issues facing cultures and ecological systems around the world from our changing climate.

The main goals of the Arctic Trail Run are:

  • Bearing witness to climate change
  • Fostering individual and community resilience
  • Working to change the narrative about climate change from resistance to resilience.

Thank you to everyone for the ongoing support — only 1,675 hours left before the run starts on August 1st!

New Shirts and Swag from Atayne!

I’m super excited to announce that Climate Run: Arctic Trail gear is now available in the Atayne Climate Run store!  

Not only do proceeds from the sales go directly to support the record attempt at the 500-mile Arctic Trail in August, and not only are the shirts made from 100% recycled polyester by the great folks at Atayne in Brunswick, Maine–but just look at these shirts!!

 

In all things

I am honored to have been featured by several news organizations this week. Articles about Climate Run were printed in today’s editions of The Times Argus Newspaper and the Caledonian Record. Earlier this week, Vermont Biz, VT Digger, and USA Running all posted articles about the 2017 Arctic Trail Run.

In the Caledonian Record, I was quoted as saying,

“Climate resilience isn’t about just one intervention, or several. It’s looking at the entanglement of infrastructure, culture, policies, and ecology, and seeing what we can do to not just mitigate our impact but to build more intentional and resilient relationships between social and ecological systems.”

 

“It’s not about saving nature, it’s about saving us,” he said.

“Saving us” is about celebrating individuals, building whole communities, and fostering resilient relationships with one another and across boundary lines. If we can’t do that, then how can we even begin to take meaningful action with respect to our larger world?

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Sometimes it can be pretty hard to be out on a long run. Particularly on a cold mid-winter late afternoon in northern Vermont, it can be hard even to get out the door! But when my body warms up and I embrace the rhythm of the run, I’m reminded nearly every time that running isn’t just about the exertion and a means to push through to the finish.

Rather, I like to think of my running itself as writing a narrative of openness, acceptance, and understanding of my place in this larger world—as I run, I feel boundaries begin to blur, and I find myself on a gradient between self and world.

By looking at the landscape at a small scale—something that running (and walking, and skiing, and so on) almost always requires us to do—we can begin to make our connections to natural places at the same time more dynamic, more entwined, and more resilient.

Anything that underscores the tangible, real physicality of individual and community connections with ecological systems—through sport, endurance, and recreation—can be an essential foundation for meaningful conversations not just about ‘the environment,’ but about our communities and about ourselves.

What do I hope for? For no less than to use my experience to begin writing a new narrative that integrates communities and individuals more intentionally with the ecological future of our world.

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Newsflash!

I’m so proud that Climate Run is featured by the good folks over at Running USA. Go check it out!

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Telling stories

Last Tuesday, I gave a presentation about Climate Run: Iceland at Sterling College. In many ways it seems like a long time since I finished my trans-Icelandic run in June 2015 — but sharing the story of my passion for running, training, and sharing ideas about embracing vulnerability as a way to build climate resilience — all of this helps me to stay connected with the experience and with all the people who I have talked with over the last year. And it gets me up at 4:00 am nearly every day to keep training for what comes next.

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One student asked me what kept me going despite some of the challenges I faced along the 150-mile run. I thought for a minute and then explained that I was never in it by myself — I had family, friends, and many people I’d never even met supporting me, following my progress, and wanting to share in my adventure. Even when I was 20 miles from the next nearest person in the middle of northern Icelandic tundra, I never felt completely alone.

I’m excited to have the chance to share my story on November 4th at 7:00 pm at the Whitney Community Center in Jackson, NH.

I hope you can join me for an evening of stories, pictures, and conversation about how we can build communities of resilience in the face of climate change.

 

 

 

Top Ten!

Five days into the New Year (and barely a week into “winter” here in the Northeastern U.S.) and I’m starting to adjust to a new training routine that balances running and skiing (and gym workouts) with all the other parts of family & work life.

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dragon waits…

For example, I couldn’t get out to start my long run on Sunday until after 5:00 pm. It was, of course, already dark, and snowing pretty hard. I put on the microspikes, harnessed Dragon for some canine companionship, and set out for a slow and steady 12 miles.

Slower than usual in part because of the double (& triple) workout days I’ve been logging this past week to take advantage of the new snow and keep ramping up the running mileage.

Stretching the training hours through the darkest days of the year and in all sorts of conditions has also given me plenty of time to think about being named one of Vermont’s Top Ten Athletes of 2015 by Vermont Sports Magazine.

It’s a huge honor–and pretty humbling–to be on a short list with athletes including Kasie Enman, Andy Newell, Kelly Clark, and Hannah Kearney.VS-dec.-webcover

Being on this list has also challenged me to think about what it means to be an athlete (and father and husband and teacher and more…), and it’s given me the chance to share the story of Climate Run and the idea of climate resilience with everyone from skiers to college students to 13-year olds studying climate science.

As much as I cherish all the hours I spend running, skiing, and training for the coming year’s adventures, even more important are the many conversations I’ve been able to have about endurance, vulnerability, resilience, and our individual roles in the face of climate change.

Resonance

Over the past couple of months, I have been giving Climate Run: Iceland presentations around Vermont and the eastern U.S — from talks at Burlington, Vermont’s The Outdoor Gear Exchange, Mount Mansfield Nordic Ski Club, to a standing-room-only audience at The Catamount Trail Association, and to a packed auditorium at the Hathaway Brown School in Cleveland, Ohio.

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descending from Hengill midway through day one

It’s always exciting to share my story of running across Iceland (which for me feels both recent and so very long ago), but I find even more rewarding the conversations that follow–about a range of topics grounded in concepts such as climate change, resilience, vulnerability, and endurance.

I’ve been asked, “what should we do” in the face of climate change? What roles should we as athletes play? How do you define resilience?

I have facilitated a conversation about the role of faith in climate conversations.

I have asked groups about how privilege can guide our thinking about vulnerability.

I have talked with students and faculty about how art, action, and science can help develop a resilient ecological and social relationship.

I have found that my story resonates with a range of different audiences — from skiers to conservationists to high school students — all of whom have different expectations and different relationships with and perspectives on the natural world.

John Meyer has recently written about the resonance dilemma, which points to the disconnect between systems as large and complex as the global climate with individual people’s actions. Meyer invites us to “imagine an agenda for environmental sustainability that emerges from everyday concerns and is … deeply resonant with the lives of” ordinary people.

I completely agree. In fact, Climate Run often resonates most strongly when I talk about the personal experience of being in the midst of wildness–and of realizing that as individuals we are inextricably part of a global ecology.

Nature can no longer be that place ‘out there.’ For the issues of a broader world to resonate with us, we need to recognize–and act as though–we are part of it all.

Of course, this is not at all a new concept, but it may be among the most difficult to act upon.

celebrating at the finish in Laugarbakki

celebrating at the finish in Laugarbakki after 150 miles

Climate Run hits the road!

I’m super stoked to kick off the Climate Run: Iceland tour with a show at the Outdoor Gear Exchange in Burlington, Vermont on Thursday, Sept. 24th at 8:00 pm.

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If you are interested in hosting a presentation where you are, please get in touch! More info about Climate Run presentations.
 

Why Climate Change Matters in Iceland

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The Icelandic landscape has long held a fascination for me–from my first visit to Reykjavik in the 1970s when I was a young boy through the field course I taught there in 2007. It is a place where the land is most often laid bare, and geologic history is written (and volcanically rewritten) on even the most weatherbeaten and exposed summits, in the seasonal rise and fall of glacial rivers, and in the ice-scoured earth left by receding glaciers.

To prepare for Climate Run by learning more about specific effects of climate change in Iceland, I’ve been reading quite a bit–including the groundbreaking article, Climate‐driven vertical acceleration of Icelandic crust measured by continuous GPS geodesy by Kathleen Compton, Richard A Bennett, and Sigrún Hreinsdóttir.

The study, which assesses many years of precise GPS data from 27 different sites in Iceland, is the first one to show that the earth’s surface is rising as a direct result of glacial melting due to climate change.

reboundScientists have been able to measure the rise of the earth’s crust as icecaps and glaciers melt and unburden the ground, effectively allowing it relax. The weight of ice that melts each year in Iceland–an estimated 11 billion tons–is actually causing the earth’s surface to rebound.

In Iceland, not only is the earth’s surface rising–in what is often called post-glacial rebound or uplift–but in some places it is rising at a rate of more than one inch each year.

As Compton et al. write in the conclusion to their study, this movement has the potential to increase the frequency and the severity of volcanic activity in the region and to affect how we measure the movement of tectonic plates. Earlier today, Compton shared with me in an email that

One of the things that’s cool about this research is that it shows that all Earth processes are connected. Sometimes I think we get stuck thinking that climate change is an atmosphere phenomenon. But we know that many Earth processes are affected. The oceans are getting warmer and more acidic. Ice is melting, and a warmer world will physically change the shape of our planet.

As I learn more about the complexities of global climate systems, it becomes ever more clear that everythingdown to the very ground we stand uponis so thoroughly entangled with everything we do in the world, there’s no way we can think of ourselves and our actions as anything but an inherent and consequential part of this one world we share.