Are We Really Radical?

Is our community doing enough to lead the radical change?

Rad, radical. It’s a word that’s firmly been in our community’s lexicon since the beginning. It’s a term used freely, usually with excitement, anticipation or affirmation. And, if you’re on the receiving end of being praised as such, it’s usually a nice place to be. But, is it a term we can honestly use to define the snowboard community at this point in time?

“Climate change poses the biggest threat to our community since its inception”

You may not realise this but climate change poses the biggest threat to our community since its inception. It’s hard for me to think of another sport that climate change affects so directly and obviously than snowboarding. Warmer temperatures, increased precipitation, wild fluctuations, higher freezing altitudes and shorter seasons are the making of our collective nightmares, and it’s happening now. If we go over the 2C degrees target set in the Paris climate change agreement (which we are well on course to do) the Alps is set to lose 70% of snow cover in 80 years. It makes for even more brutal reading when “The most affected elevation zone for climate change is located below 1,200m, where the simulations show almost no continuous snow cover towards the end of the century.” With about a quarter of ski resorts in the Alps below 1200m, these lower level resorts will cease to exist, and the commercial viability of even the higher resorts will become harder to justify. We’re talking about the end of snowboarding as we know it today. 

PC: Jelle Mul

So why are those stats you’ve read above, probably the first time you’ve ever seen them? Why are we not shouting about this at the top of our lungs? Why is the anxiety of losing something so cherished not driving direct action? – I think it is because we aren’t radical enough. It might be hard to hear, but we need to hear it. We aren’t radical, we aren’t rad. At least not when it comes down to the real issues threatening our shared passion and identity.

If we were really radical, we would be at the forefront of civil movements like Extinction Rebellion. We would be straight-lining into these issues with such momentum that politicians, brands, resorts, federations, media and the like couldn’t ignore us. I can’t help wishing that the incredible young activist Greta Thunberg, should have been a grom – pushed to the front, educated, sponsored and rallied behind by the “scene”.   As snowboarders we have to connect to something that’s bigger than ourselves. We rely on the mountains and nature to provide the foundations.

“If we were really radical, we would be at the forefront of civil movements like Extinction Rebellion”

Our shared experiences in these natural spaces, like that epic powder day or that time you did your first toe-side turn, help us connect to each other, to a community, and to something way more powerful than the individual. If that’s not that definition of activism, then I’m not sure what is. To be an activist is to be active, to be “stoked” and to use that energy to encourage others to be stoked. As pioneering professional snowboarder Marie France-Roy puts it; “if snowboarding can help people fall in love with nature and stand up to protect it, that’s a small but important victory to me.”  We now must accept responsibility that it’s up to us to protect what we love. No one is going to do it for us, and no one should. It is time for us to step up to the radical term and be it.

“To be an activist is to be active, to be “stoked” and to use that energy to encourage others to be stoked”

To be radical now, is to be brave. It’s to drop in, commit and hold up a mirror to interrogate what we see, and change what we don’t like. It’s to be honest with ourselves, the community and the industry. It’s to speak up unapologetically as silence is no longer an option. We are desperately running out of time. This is our cross to bear and it’s not going to be easy. It’s going to be uncomfortable, awkward, and stressful. We’re going to make mistakes, we’re going to get called out, but it’s also going to be incredibly rewarding, life affirming and worth it, because you know what’s cooler than this seasons new jacket? Solidarity. 

PC: Jelle Mul

I can’t think of a better collective of people to tackle this issue head on. We are rebels, with a mountainous cause. The climate crisis. Now we must call on our counter-culture roots to reject the status quo which has lead us into this mess. We also must mobilise the scene with the utmost urgency, and accept our complicated contradictions, as that’s what makes us human.

We will fly, we will eat cheeseburgers, we will forget our reusable water bottles, but we must take comfort in knowing by doing such things it doesn’t disqualify us from challenging the broken system. This narrative it’s a way of controlling us so things stay the same – something carefully crafted by the fossil fuel lobby to make you feel like a guilty hypocrite and make you silent. Our personal responsibility is important, but we’re after transformational change, radical change. So falling into the trap of consistent finger pointing at each other, or silence should be recognised as conforming – the opposite of radical. 

“Our personal responsibility is important, but we’re after transformational change, radical change”

So how do we be radical and create transformational change? How do we, a collective of people who enjoy standing sideways go about this? It starts with realising our power as voters, and using our voices to support ambitious policy which matches the urgency of the crisis that we are in. The UK goes to the polls in less than three days on December 12th – this decides our collective future. We need to half global emissions in the next 10 years if we have any chance of avoiding catastrophic tipping points, and we could be stuck with a party for the next five years who do not take this seriously. This would cut  our time to deal with this crisis in half, and it could be too late. Saving the shred could be long gone.

So, get ready to drop in to one of the most important decisions you’re going to make for our planet in recent memory. Get ready to drop in and vote. And when you do, I’d urge you to vote with our planet in mind. I’d urge you to #VoteForSnow. This is the start of a long top to bottom, but we’ve got this. We froth off innovation and progression in snowboarding, so why should our approach to a better world be any different? 

Compare party manifestos here:

Add your voice to the fight – 


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