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Nature - sometimes you try to muster words to describe what you are seeing but all you can do is stand there and appreciate it.

Nature. Sometimes you try to muster words to describe what you are seeing. But all you can really do is stand there and appreciate it. Photo: Courtesy of Ian Bolliger


The Inertia

Chances are you enjoy spending time in nature — at least that much is assumed by the very fact that you’re reading these words. Whether that’s going for a jog in an urban forest or climbing a Himalayan peak, the outdoor sports community is united by the recreational pleasure we all derive from our natural surroundings.

Of course, you don’t have to love playing in the outdoors to understand the value of nature. Indeed, from a hardcore economist’s perspective, recreation is probably one of the least valuable “ecosystem services” the natural environment provides. However, there is certainly a less quantifiable impact of the natural world which anyone who’s hiked through alpenglow or paddled a crystal clear river can attest to. Call it spiritual, call it cultural, call it whatever you want to call it – nature calls to us in ways beyond those that can be represented by dollars and cents.

In the Energy and Resources Group at UC Berkeley, I am lucky enough to be surrounded by extremely passionate individuals who have the capacity to quantitatively assess the impacts of environmental and climatic change along a variety of axes while simultaneously appreciating the less measurable joy obtained by cavorting in the outdoors. It’s with both of these perspectives in mind that I’d like to introduce this new series: Adventuring Through an Evolving World.

In it, several of my classmates and colleagues will join me in lending a quantitative eye to environmental change and its relationship to the outdoor sports community.

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Series contributor and Energy and Resources Group student Jess Reilly is sailing her boat Oleada throughout Latin America to find out what people are doing about climate change on the coasts. Photo Credit: Jess Reilly

Series contributor and Energy and Resources Group student Jess Reilly is sailing her boat Oleada throughout Latin America to find out what people are doing about climate change on the coasts. Here she looks out on the Sierra de la Giganta at Isla San Francisco in the Sea of Cortez. Photo t: Jess Reilly

From El Niño-caused fish disappearances discovered on a remote sailing expedition, to the carbon footprint of eco- and outdoor-tourism in Norway, to the impacts of trash on popular climbing routes and in popular surfing destinations, we are excited to shed some light on lesser known or unexpected effects of environmental change. We will examine both the impacts of the outdoor sports community on the environment on which it depends and the effects of this changing environment on the community.

We are also stoked to collaborate with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation (ASC) on this series. ASC brings together scientists working on problems that demand data from remote and/or natural recreational areas with athletes traveling to these places across the world. I had the pleasure of participating in an ASC project earlier this summer on Denali; it added an element of “adventuring with a purpose” to our expedition, and we truly enjoyed the challenge of digging snowpits at 17,000 feet and transporting samples down the mountain — take a look at this trip report and this photo essay for more details on this trip. Needless to say, we’re excited to feature a selection of their current projects as we speak with the incredible scientists and adventure athletes that make this program work.

On our expedition on Denali, we collected snow samples from 17,000 feet for ASC. This data will feed into a research project investigating high-altitude glacial thinning.

On our expedition on Denali, we collected snow samples from 17,000 feet for ASC. This data will feed into a research project investigating high-altitude glacial thinning. Photo: Courtesy of Ian Bolliger

Bringing the series to you is an excellent set of guest contributors equipped with a vast array of adventures around the world. And though this gives us a tremendous diversity of topics, we’d love to hear what issues hit home with you. Therefore, if you’d like to learn more about a particular environmental topic that you discovered when hiking, biking, skiing, or even zorbing, please add it to the comment section below.

With all that being said, look for the first article in a couple weeks, tentatively set to examine the impact of climate change on ski area snowfall. Until then, happy adventuring!

For more information on the people and organizations behind Adventures Through an Evolving World, be sure to check out the Energy & Resources Group at UC Berkley as well as Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation.


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