When I was young, I wanted to be a world champion mogul skier. I ached to compete on the World Cup and to hear Warren Miller say some sardonic line about how rad I was. I was a single-minded, full-time crusader of the cult of shredding. Fast forward to age 23, I was a former World Cup skier and National Champion, and I had heard Warren espouse my radness in his movies. What I lacked were sponsors that cared about a mogul skier in a world of freeskiers.
In the wake of pro skiing, I went to college at the University of Montana and became a geologist. Then it was on to grad school at the University of Washington to become a glaciologist. It was perfect. I could go to Antarctica and study snow and save the world by elucidating the 7th continent’s glacial flow regimes. Through my research, the world would find out that we are in fact warming the planet through the burning of fossil fuels. My career would let me save the mountains and the winters that I love by hanging out in the cold climates and remote places I was accustomed to.
But then a funny thing happened. I went to Antarctica multiple times. I stood on the barren continent’s 9,000-foot-deep ice sheets. I did real and meaningful science. And none of it mattered. My research was confined to obscure conferences of like-minded people and even more esoteric journals. I was once again doggedly skiing moguls in a world of freeskiers.
So I returned home to Montana and linked up with my father, who happens to be a Ph.D. Economist. Today, our company Power Consulting, fights coal ports that are trying to send Montana coal to China. We oppose coal mines in Colorado that want to emit large volumes of methane to produce coal that our country is trying to divest from. We argue against copper mines in Bristol Bay, Alaska, so that wild salmon can spawn in abundance and native people can continue their ancient and sacred ways. We do all this with science and economics.
If that sounds altruistic, it is, but it’s also selfish. My “real job” keeps me actively fighting climate change so that I can continue to pursue my “fake job” of running our local 100-kid-strong Freestyle Team—and pass on the joys of skiing and winter to another generation.
Edward Abbey once wrote, “It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.”