What does climate change have to do with skiing and snowboarding? Everything, according to Auden Schendler -- Vice President of Sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company, board member of Protect Our Winters, and author of Getting Green Done: Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution. Schendler is the featured guest tonight at the Great Fear, Great Hope: Climate Change And The Meaning Of Life presentation at CU Boulder, and some of what he has to say may come as a surprise if you haven't been paying attention: Schendler thinks plastic bag bans, Renewable Energy Certificate commodities, and even recycling are mere distractions on the way to the much bigger climate change mitigation required to prevent what he says is a coming and catastrophic "epic fail."
Tonight's event, co-sponsored by the CU Environmental Center and the CU Leeds School of Business student club Net Impact, begins at 6 p.m in the Humanities 150 lecture hall on campus. Schendler may touch on some of the Aspen Skiing Company's recent accomplishments -- the ski areas at Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass now boast a number of LEED-certified buildings, an in-progress conversion to replace all incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs, extensive wildlife habitat protection measures, on-mountain sustainability education efforts, and "green purchasing" of everything from post-consumer paper products to the local grass-fed beef served in Aspen restaurants like the Little Nell -- but Schendler is chiefly interested in bigger-picture solutions and he'll be the first to admit that even Aspen's pioneering sustainability efforts are just scratching at the surface.
That's not to say he's without optimism: As "Aspen's Green Guy" told The Atlantic last month,
"...the reality is that the shake up idea will be the realization that solving climate change isn't going to be techy and sexy and innovative, it's going to use off the shelf technology and be basic, simple, blue collar hard work of the kind my Grandpa Joe in North Dakota talked about all the time. It's stuff we already know how to do and which we are very good at. It's going to mean fixing old buildings, for example. Redoing the electric grid. This is going to be a return to who we are as Americans: it won't be exciting but once we get going we'll do it well and enjoy it, like building a shed, and in the end it will be incredibly gratifying. And the timing is perfect: The small construction industry has always led out of recessions, and we have this idle workforce ready to go."
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Schendler will sign copies of his book at a reception after his presentation.