The rise in temperature is having a huge impact on the world’s mountains. How can we adapt to the changes, and could we reduce the global impact of our adventures? These issues were up for debate at Sheffield Adventure Film Festival earlier this year. A number of ideas were generated, and all these suggestions will be discussed by the BMC’s Sustainability Working Group over the coming months.
Changes in rainfall, melting permafrost and extreme weather are endangering the survival of mountain people and wildlife, and affecting Alpine climbing, European ski touring, and even the state of our limestone crags.
Climbers and walkers are in the best position to witness and record these changes. However, in a recent article for Summit magazine, Kevin Anderson, professor of energy and climate change at Manchester University, argued that climbers and mountaineers are generally contributing to the problem more than they are helping:
“We no longer get to the crag, the hills or the occasional alpine trip by cycling, the train, thumbing a lift, or cramming four sweaty oiks and their kit into a mini clubman,” he wrote. “Worse still, the crag is often now far beyond the local outcrop, it’s a drive to Malham, a motorway marathon to do the Three Peaks or a bit of Munro bagging, a long weekend in Calpe, a week at Smith Rocks or a rapid ascent of some alpine peak.”
Issues of concern raised at the Ben Winston Memorial Debate included fuel poverty and production, transport and building energy, diet, agriculture, rainfall and flooding, and changes in the boundaries of fragile ecosystems.
Everyone agreed that we can’t sit idly anymore. We all need to take individual action if we want to see solutions. Millions of people need to wake up and agitate the absolute changes required. Being ‘a bit more efficient’ won’t work. Do your actions match your beliefs? Could you reduce your personal waste and impact?
WATCH: Tremfest 2016, the BMC's crag revival festival on BMC TV
What can the BMC do?
More campaigning. Advertise more sustainable travel options and trips, publicise more local adventures, encourage car share options, and ‘green up’ climbing huts. Increase the pressure to get climate change higher up the political agenda.
Publish more stories about what climbers and walkers are trying to do about climate change, including more short films on BMC TV.
Build links with Sheffield Climate Alliance and like-minded organisations, and work with the European Outdoor Group, which represents the European outdoor industry, on issues with outdoor gear manufacturing and retail.
We can encourage members to go for quality products that last instead of cheap throwaway items whenever possible, and provide the facts about how long it’s safe to keep gear going.
We can put together ‘Best Practice for BMC Expeditions’ information, covering aspects such as travel, behaviour and sustainable practices.
Finally, we can roll out this debate at other mountaineering film festivals and sporting events.
Mountains matter: stand up against climate change
Meltdown: Free Ben Winston memorial debate at ShAFF
The BMC is a member of theclimatecoalition.org
Ben Winston was a Sheffield climber, writer, photographer and filmmaker who was passionate about adventure and about climate change – read more about his life here.
The Access and Conservation Trust
The BMC's charity – the BMC Access & Conservation Trust – promotes sustainable access to cliffs, mountains and open countryside by facilitating education and conservation projects across the United Kingdom and Ireland.
By educating climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers to enjoy outdoor recreation while minimising their impact on the landscape, conserving the UK’s upland resources, and campaigning for improved access rights, ACT enables future generations to continue to enjoy outdoor activities and the physical, mental and social benefits they bring to individual lives and society in general.
WATCH: the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign film