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Will Gadd – The Mountain Hero

un-environmentWill Gadd is proud to represent the United Nations as a Mountain Hero.

UN Environment is partnering with the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation to boost environmental protection in mountainous areas, and they have elected Will Gadd as their new Mountain Hero.

The Mountain Heroes campaign selects extraordinary athletes from around the world who dedicate some of their time to raise awareness of environmental issues, in particular environmental protection of mountains, where early indicators of the effects of climate change are already becoming visible.

Gadd says, “It’s an honour for sure, but also a way to amplify and share concerns about how quickly our world is changing.”

As an athlete he says he hopes to reach a different group of people in different ways than a more traditional scientist.

“I appreciate the UN’s active role in helping make all of our futures potentially better. In the end it’s not the UN or one person that’s going to change our current path, but all of us understanding and thinking about climate change,” he said.

He believes climbers and mountaineers have a responsibility to protect the landscapes they enjoy.

“I think that everyone who is lucky enough to spend time in the mountains comes to feel a sense of ownership and investment in wild places. It’s pretty hard not to care about wild places after you’ve visited them, it’s always powerful.”

Gadd said he looks at the climate change deniers a bit like those who refuse to believe smoking causes cancer. “Everyone has the right to an opinion, but at this point arguing that radically changing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere won’t change our climate as it has in the past is like arguing for our children taking up smoking.”

He said the big problem is that so many of the people working on climate change are cautious scientists, while the deniers tend to be loud.

“To me climate change isn’t some sort of theory, it’s very very obvious wherever I travel. The speed is truly amazing when you start to look at historical records, watch the trees march up hillsides and the glaciers disappear. Climate change isn’t really deniable to any observant person at this point, it’s just a question of how much and how fast.”

As one of the wold’s most prominent ice-climbers with accomplishments on routes across the planet he has witnessed climate change up close in high up places less visited by man.

“First, I’m part of the climate change problem. I travel the world as an athlete, guide and speaker, and even though I buy carbon offsets and take other steps to mitigate my impact on the planet it’s still an impact. I’m working on reducing that impact, but part of this process for me has been looking at how I live and work, and how I can do better at both for my family and everyone who lives here on earth. We’re all in this together.”

He believes sharing his experiences with images and stories will be helpful to people.

“I can also use my athletic and guiding skills to help research climate change and glaciers, which I’ve been doing a lot of lately both locally on the Athabasca glacier and the Greenland Ice Cap. It’s great to combine my sports and cutting edge research, I’m learning a lot and hopefully making a difference for my kids and their kids,” said Gadd.

Transcribed from The Bow Valley Crag and Canyon.


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