Tonight I went to the Aspen U Speaker Series With Bill McKibben in Aspen with my good friend Arn Menconi.
Please watch this 10 minute video. I know it’s long, but I wanted to get it out there. I’ll make a shorter version soon.
Bill McKibben is a climate activist. He’s done great work. But Aspen is the home of consumption, not, conservation. Aspen Skiing Company’s best efforts towards the climate crisis amount to greenwashing. It didn’t jive.
After Bill’s talk he took questions. Here’s what I said:
Bill. Gracias, for your work. My family and I marched with you in NYC, Denver, Nebraska, and D.C.
Today we’re here in Aspen. A town known for consumption, not, conservation. At an event sponsored by the Aspen Skiing Company.
Aspen Skiing Company supports expanding the runway at the airport, so more private jets can land. Private jets are at least 8x less efficient than commercial jets.
They refuse to stop selling meat and dairy. Meat and dairy creates more emissions than all tail-pipe emissions combined.
They create tons of trash each year, of which less than 8% is recyclable.
Aspen Skiing Company is wholly owned and operated by the Crown Family. The Crown family has a significant stake in General Dynamics and JP Morgan Chase.
General Dynamics is a global defense company that makes combat vehicles used in wars fought over oil.
JP Morgan Chase is involved in oil field exploration.
So my question, Bill, is this:
How do you justify tying your name to a company who’s best efforts to combat climate change amount to greenwashing, who supports endless wars, wars fought over oil, and oil exploration?
In the event, Bill’s ask was for people to divest from JP Morgan Chase. He wanted people to cut up their Chase credit cards. That’s cool. But I think it’s symbolic. Because just about every credit card out there is tied to Chase in one way or another. Cutting up one Chase Visa doesn’t matter if you have 3 more in your wallet.
Bill also suggested that if people want to make a dent in the climate crisis, they should join a group and be part of something bigger.
So I’m forming a group. I’m asking skiers to join me, and stop skiing at an Aspen Skiing Company resort until Aspen Skiing Company changes its ways. That is, until Aspen Skiing Company completely divests from General Dynamics, JP Morgan Chase, and all other of their holdings that are in any way connected to war and oil.
Making a dent requires doing what’s uncomfortable. So join me. If you really care about skiing and planet, then fight for it. Take a stand. Ask others to do the same.
If you have an Aspen ski pass, cut it up. Don’t buy an Aspen lift ticket. If you have an Ikon Pass, same thing. Because Ikon is run by Aspen Skiing Company. This is really uncomfortable, I know. But that’s what it’s going to take.
Once you’ve taken your action I want you to contact Auden Schendler, Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company. Tell him what you’ve done. Tell him you’re not coming back until they completely divest from General Dynamics, JP Morgan Chase, and all other holdings that are in any way connected to war and oil. Here’s a link to his contact page:
I’ll have a new website up soon.
My friend who works at ASC sent me a text this morning. I think he thought I was attacking him, which is not my intention or what I want to do.
He wrote that I live in a big house on a golf course. True. He wrote that I ski at Beaver Creek, a Vail Resort that’s surely invested in war and oil. True.
I wrote back that we’re building a small house not on a golf course, that’ll produce its own energy. That I’ll stop skiing at Vail Resorts or any ski area, that’s invested in war and oil. Because, my son’s and people I haven’t met futures are more important to me.
Here’s my first reply:
This isn’t just about Aspen. It’s about Vail and other ski areas invested in wars and oil. It’s about the trash we create at concerts. It’s about asking people to think, before they spend.
It’s not about shaming – you or anyone. It’s about about changing the system. It’s about informing people and asking them to take a stand, which most often is a sacrifice.
I totally get that it’s impossible to live without doing damage. You’re right, we live in a big house on a golf course. That’s changing. We’re building a small house not on a golf course, that’ll produce its own energy.
The website will be up soon. I’ll be about uncomfortable actions to change the system for the radical, not-so radical, and the concerned. I hope you’ll give it a look.
Here’s my 2nd reply:
If Vail Resorts is invested in war and oil, their pass gets cut up too. I’ll take my money to a ski area not invested in war and oil. If I can’t find one, my son and I will use that time for snowshoeing or cross country skiing. His future and the future of those I haven’t met are much more important to me.
I totally get that a lot (although I hope it’s the opposite!) won’t stop skiing at ski areas invested in oil and war.
The reality is we’re not going to reverse the climate crisis. Now, it’s about damage control. We’re in a hole, we need to stop digging. It’ll take years to undue what Trump has done. But that doesn’t absolve us from fighting for what one believes in – from freedom to the climate crisis. It’s the most patriotic thing one can do.
I’m not looking to be a man on an island. I want others to join. But I’m going to call balls and strikes. Because we’ve become comfortably numb. Breaking that spell requires being uncomfortable. So I’ll have uncomfortable actions for the radical, not-so-radical, and the concerned.
For example you could rally employees to write letters to ASC, asking them to divest from wars and oil. You could form a ski patrollers union. You could make sure that every credit card you use isn’t tied to wars and oil. All these actions are uncomfortable, yes? This is what I’m talking about.
Here’s what I wrote to another friend:
Before you completely dismiss me as…bat shit crazy (as opposed to just fucking crazy), read through the comments section of the post. Please add your own.
My intention is to be attractive. I’m not here to shame, I don’t believe in that. Yes, I’m cutting up ski passes. But I totally get that’s a radical (It shouldn’t be, but that’s where we are) action.
This is about changing the system. As I wrote, we’ve become comfortably numb. Breaking that spell means taking uncomfortable actions. Yes, I want to build coalition. But there’s a boundary I won’t cross. I won’t be about comfortable actions. That’s just more of the same.