Jeremy Jones has spent his whole life exploring, and snowboarding, throughout the mountains of the world. As a professional snowboarder he routinely rides some of the biggest lines in the world, often accompanied by a film crew documenting his exploits for the numerous movies in which he appears. But one of his biggest legacies is Protect Our Winters (POW), the nonprofit he founded in 2007 that is dedicated to reversing the global warming crisis by uniting the winter-sports community. With over 150,000 members, POW has grown into a voice to be heard, and led Jones to be invited to speak to Congress in May 2017 about the challenges our planet is facing. So when Jones heard that President Trump was pulling the United States out of The Paris Agreement, he was shocked. It led him to pen a compelling open letter to the President asking him a simple question: “What will we tell our kids?”
Dear Mr. President,
I have spent my life in the mountains. My life depends on being in tune with nature, weather and snow.
In 2007, I started Protect Our Winters because I had become increasingly alarmed with the changing climate and shrinking of glaciers.
I did not need science to tell me snow lines are rising, weather is getting more erratic and more extreme, and that glaciers are melting at a rapid rate.
However, it is science that I ask you to accept. It is the work of 13,000 scientists representing the world’s most prestigious scholastic institutions. It is the people being forced out of their countries by rising sea levels and extreme drought. It is the bleaching of the reefs, the scorching of the earth, and the melting of the poles.
Most importantly, I write to you for the kids of today.
Speaking to groups of kids has always been a highlight for me. To watch their intense focus as I explain to them the sobering facts of climate change. To feel the excitement in the room as I explain the solutions. Explain how, through the help of science, we are learning how to reduce our impact on the planet.
That with great challenges comes great opportunities. I ask them whether they would rather work in a coal mine or build solar panels or windmills. I ask them whether they would rather drive a car that runs on the sun or oil. Live in a house that adds to the grid and doesn’t take from it.
I ask them if they want to leave the planet better than they found it. I ask them if they want to see a vibrant, thriving ocean or a bleached, dead one. Plowed fields or rain forest.
Unfortunately, these talks have taken a somber turn. I have to decide if I should tell them the sobering truth that the United States of America is failing on climate. That big oil and big money are winning or that our elected officials are being funded by the fossil fuel industry and voting to protect the profits of a few, at the detriment of the planet.
I ask you, Mr. President: Do I tell them that we are the largest polluters on the planet and doing the least about it? That the rest of the world has taken climate seriously? That they are creating jobs—and opportunities—doing it?
Do I tell them that we have failed them? That we—their parents and grandparents—have failed them? That we have all sat idly by while a great injustice is happening right in front of our eyes? That we have done nothing because change is too hard? That turning coal jobs into renewable jobs is too hard?
I don’t know how you do it. How do you look the kids of our country in the eyes and tell them that you put short-term profits ahead of long-term solutions?
But, actually, I don’t want to know. I don’t aspire to have that skill set. I would rather stumble and bumble as I try to offer some explanation and information to keep the hope fires burning.
Thankfully, the tide is changing.
Thankfully, innovation, change, and progress always win.
Thankfully, despite your efforts, renewables are being embraced by the world, and our country, at an amazing rate.
Thankfully, the smartest, most innovative companies are all-in on doing what’s best for future generations.
Thankfully, mayors and governors are acting on climate.
Thankfully, the world is acting on climate.
Thankfully, 70 percent of the U.S. wants action on climate.
You know better than anyone that the mighty dollar always wins. And thankfully, the mighty dollar is falling in love with a clean energy future.
Because, frankly sir, science always wins. Truth always wins. Sometimes it just takes a little time. But you are on the wrong side of this one, Mr. Trump.
You have been so bad on the environment that you have just made this the issue of the next election.
Thankfully, sir, your days are numbered.
Founder, Protect Our Winters