Given the choice between going to the ocean or the mountains, I will always choose mountains. So it is no surprise that a large majority of the activities I love, have to do with spending time in the mountains; trail running, hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, biking and the occasional rock climbing. When we talk about the climate crisis, many people’s first thought goes to rising sea levels. And while that is currently happening and a major issue that must be addressed, it doesn’t mean that our favorite mountains aren’t being affect. The climate crisis doesn’t just affect certain parts of our planet. It affects the ENTIRE PLANET, which includes all mountain ranges. So, how will mountains suffer if we continue down the path of climate destruction? As temperatures continue to rise and annual rain fall diminishes, forest fires are becoming much more frequent. In the United States, “from 2000 to 2018, wildfires burned more than twice as much land area per year than those from 1985 to 1999”.
Not only do increased fires pose a threat to human health, but they also destroy a vital part of our planet’s ecosystem. The loss of plants and animals negatively affects the controlled ecosystems of the mountains we love exploring. The more fires that occur, the more fragile and dangerous mountains become.
As temperatures continue to rise, mountain glaciers are quickly diminishing. Glacier ice naturally absorb a little heat and reflects it back into space. However, as they melt, the earth begins to absorb more heat which leads to even more increased temperatures and faster melting glaciers. Truly a vicious cycle.
With less snow on mountains, outdoor adventure becomes much more treacherous. Melting glaciers results in more crevasses, increased rockslides, and avalanches. As exploring mountain regions becomes more dangerous, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. While crevasses, rockslides, and avalanches may seem to only affect those on the mountains themselves, flooding and disruption of water supply will affect individuals hundreds of miles away. “The IPCC assessment found that global warming will change the timing and amount of runoff, affecting water storage and delivery infrastructure around the world". Many communities rely on glacier water in some regard; whether it be for drinking or farming. “A 2016 study in six Western mountain ranges showed rising temperatures will shift the snow accumulation zone and runoff timing enough to have significant impacts on water cycles". Not only does the climate crisis cause damage to ecosystems and downstream communities, but it will also continue to result in emotional and cultural loss as sacred landscapes vanish. So how can we continue to adventure and explore as dangers increase? We must use the privilege we have to raise awareness and take action. Yes it is most certainly a privilege to have access to the outdoors and witness the effects of the climate crisis first hand. Start by talking to those you are with and discussing how to talk to others in your life about these pressing issues. VOTE for officials that believe in sciences and experts and are willing to take action to protect and preserve our planet. Your actions do matter, you just have to begin.
The climate crisis isn’t just an ocean issue. Heck, it isn’t just a mountain issue. It is a GLOBAL ISSUE. Spending more time in nature is one way many individuals begin to get involved in climate activism. But as the crisis continues, it is clear that time in the mountains is becoming more dangerous. We must take action now. Not next decade or ever next year. RIGHT NOW. So, whether you love spending time hiking in the mountains, surfing in the ocean, or strolling through a neighborhood park, the climate crisis deserves your attention. It is time to take action and protect our mountains.