I giggle a bit at the commentators that regularly join our robust community here at The Inertia. We rarely go after athletes or heroes who ply the fields of our dreams with their stylish cutbacks in the water, or impossibly steep line choices in the mountains.
But write one line about the current administration and how its policies may affect those fields we play in, and the world ends. Here’s reality if you have your head in the sand: The president is vying for short term solutions with his decision to review current national monuments, which he announced yesterday. The move seems like an obvious attempt to appease industries that have long lost their value: coal, and uranium, even forestry (which is still important, but needs to be re-thought out) and other unimaginative means of industry more vastly affected by global economics than anything happening here. Like ESPN trying to ram its cable programming down our throats in a dead market, the current administration is stuck in an old way of thinking–flipping an errant middle finger at renewable energy, adventure and outdoor tourism, solar, even sustainable farming. Things that allow us to work with the Earth. Not against her.
I’m sure you’ve heard enough about Patagonia lately. How they’ve essentially forced the Outdoor Retailer show’s hand in Utah over the state’s environmental policy (the company has worked tirelessly to protect the Bears Ears region that is in the news now)? How they put $1 million into voter campaigns and shut the company’s doors for a day to encourage voting? Patagonia deserves the press. Instead of backing down from one of the most powerful figures to ever occupy the White House, or cringing at the thought of alienating its wealthy consumers, the clothing brand has doubled down. In a release yesterday, Patagonia CEO Rose Marcario said Patagonia will not stand pat after the president issued an order to review some 24 national monuments that span 100,000 acres of federally protected areas.
“Our National Monuments were established after extensive public input because they provide unique and irreplaceable cultural, ecological, economic and recreational value worth protecting for our children and our grandchildren,” Marcario said in the release. “A president does not have the authority to rescind a National Monument. An attempt to change the boundaries ignores the review process of cultural and historical characteristics and the public input. We’re watching the Trump administration’s actions very closely and preparing to take every step necessary, including legal action, to defend our most treasured public landscapes from coast to coast.”
If you’re a hunter, fisherman, surfer, climber, skier, snowboarder, how can you not applaud that sentiment? There are plenty of ways to find jobs: the first would be to encourage your favorite manufacturer not to take jobs offshore (and send President Trump a Tweet while you’re at it because apparently, that’s how he communicates). That’s the problem with this whole thing and one I find particularly prickly to get around: many Americans are angered by the appearance that elites, who don’t work off the land, are working to protect areas that could be used to create natural resource jobs. But that simply isn’t true anymore. There are plenty of occupations out there that don’t involve tearing apart protected areas.
It seems there are a plethora of jobs in the outdoor industry. The Outdoor Industry Association claims there are nearly 7.6 million of them right now and the industry has become a powerful mover and shaker in the political world (see graph).
I prefer the art of debate over the barbaric practice of yelling and screaming at one another. I prefer understanding the issues from multiple perspectives. We’re all right, on some level. But I can’t help but applaud this effort by Patagonia. Sometimes, you’ve got to take a stand for what you believe in. We can all agree on that.