Auden Schendler

Auden Schendler is vice president of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company, author of Getting Green Done, and a board member of Protect Our Winters.

Outdoor Industry CEOs Weigh in on Climate

The North Face, Aspen, and climate policy

When North Faces start melting, and Aspens start dying, it gets the attention of two CEOs from namesake companies. Today, the CEOs of The North Face and Aspen Skiing Company weigh in on the urgency of climate policy action. Here’s a piece of the essay, followed by a link to the full text on High Country News: As CEOs of two of the most widely known consumer brands in the outdoor recreation market — Aspen Skiing Company and The North Face — it gets our attention when our companies’ namesakes start to vanish before our eyes. Although we operate different …

Grace, Dignity, Climate and a New Book on Warming in the West

Climate change and God

There’s a great new book out called How the West Was Warmed (www.howthewestwaswarmed.com), about responding to climate change in the Rockies. It’s got intros and conclusions from two of the nation’s leading implementers/rock stars of the new green economy–Gov. Bill Ritter of Colorado and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper. It also offers readers a candy store of great essays by excellent writers and thinkers in the West, including Outside contributor/N.Y. Times journalist Florence Williams, Water and drought expert Brad Udall, and editor Beth Conover, who has been in the green trenches for 20 years. The book includes an essay I originally …

How to Actually Solve Climate Change, Part Whatever

Energy Trust and the Big Hope

If you’re like me, and spend a lot of the day drinking coffee and getting increasingly paranoid with the creeping suspicion that solving climate may not be possible, it’s good when you find glimmers of hope in the wreckage. One of those glimmers (actually more like a tractor beam) is called Energy Trust, an organization in Oregon that, if widely copied, would move us well on the way to solving climate change. I recently spent a few hours with my friend Greg Stiles, who helps run their business sector programs, and I was blown away by their creativity and success. …

Green Colleges Make Green

Colleges without rocking enviro programs are failed businesses

Every time Sierra Magazine comes out with its top green colleges list I get pissed off that my alma mater, Bowdoin College, doesn’t make the cut.  And the reason I’m pissed is that it seems to me that even if you didn’t care one little tiny bit about climate or environment–if all you cared about was endowment, physical plant, and US News ranking–as an undergraduate institution you’d create a killer Enviornmental Studies program with a climate focus simply to recruit students and make money as a business. Why? Because people are banging down the doors, almost literally, to study the …

How to Make Green Conferences Feel Less Like Capital Punishment

Sustainability conferences can be boring and terrible

If you’re reading this post, you know that sustainability conferences are now so ubiquitious that you can’t swing a cat without hitting one. This is so cool–because it means the word is getting out big time. But as is my nature, I find myself massively dissatisfied by most (though not all) events, which typically bore the crap out of me. (An exception was a recent “Green Boot Camp” put on at Harvard by Living Cities, the goal of which was to actually figure out how to implement deep energy retrofits in buildings. It rocked becuase it tried hard to solve …

Why I LIke to Do Battle With the Deniers

The climate science fight club

So a guy writes in to our local paper saying climate change is a big scam, nobody ever shows the actual data, blah blah blah. I usually ignore these things like I ignore the moon landing deniers and the flat earthers, but this time I had a second in the morning and so I sent him a few things I keep on my desk like a soldier keeps weapons nearby: Naomi Oreskes Science article from 2004 (2004!) that shows that there are NO peer reviewed scientific papers that say anything other than that the climate is warming and it’s human caused; …

Just Tell the Truth

The eternal durability of greenwash

Not too long ago I was on a panel with GM’s VP of Environment, and I was reminded of how very old school most big corporations are when it comes to discussing their environmental programs. In GM’s case, listening to this VP, it was as if GM was God’s great gift to the environment, and always has been. In fact, despite admirable efforts to retool the company around the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt, GM has been nothing of the sort. Actually, it’s been a death star for green, between its crappy, huge vehicles, and its gruesome and nauseating national greenwashing …

Why Don’t Gas and Coal Love (Some) Climate Solutions?

Coal-nundrum and Ex-gas-peration

Recently, I met with the CEO of a utility to discuss how to get at carbon reduction goals. He asked two insightful questions. The first was, “Why doesn’t the natural gas industry support climate legislation?” One of the key points turned up in the utility’s analysis of future supply is that we’re going to have to switch massively from coal to natural gas in the next fifty years to address climate change.  Because of that, the natural gas industry can’t lose: it’s a key transition fuel because its carbon intensity is half that of coal, and it’s a proven source …

Climber Dies Soloing in California

John Bachar, Our Generation’s Great Hero

As a recreational rock climber and mountaineer, I’ve always seen my work on environmental issues as a natural extension of that passion for the outdoors, and also part of a long tradition: climbers and mountaineers have a long history of moving from their sometimes solipsistic, self-involved, and meaningless-by-definition sport into hugely important and weighty work, often in the environmental field. Names that come to mind include Yvon Chouinard, a shy and soft-spoken dirtbag climber and gear inventor who later founded Patagonia and became one of the leading thinkers, philanthropists, and spokesmen on sustainability. David Brower, the pioneering American mountaineer and …