To Love the World and Care for It, We Have to See It FirstBy Karlo Rodriguez | Tue, 09/20/2022 - 12:00
What are your plans for next weekend? Are you going to use your free time to do house chores, relax with family or, like millions of people every weekend, will you use this free time to do some outdoor activities? Maybe hiking your local mountain or camping?
During the pandemic, some people learned how to bake banana bread, while others ran to the hills.There has been a huge increase in the outdoor activities industry since the pandemic started, with millions of people having resorted to outdoor activities because it was the only available entertainment option in the first months post-lockdown.Once many of the restrictions were lifted, the outdoor trend did not vanish, it increased. People started to realize that there is an amazing world outside; nature is the biggest show on this planet and the word is out. People are eager to see this show by themselves and make use of their time and resources for it.
I am one of those who found a new hobby during the pandemic I started climbing mountains, from small Sunday hikes all the way to high mountains in South America (I got back recently from an expedition in Ecuador where we climbed Iliniza, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo, Chimborazo being the highest at an altitude of 6,300m) and my intention is to keep doing it, to keep climbing taller mountains with Everest already on the agenda.
In mountaineering, I found a new passion. I want to see the marvels of our world with my own eyes before climate change takes out everything. While I was training for the Ecuadorian peaks, I climbed the glaciers in Mexico several times: Jamapa Glacier at the top of the Citlaltepetl (5,636m above sea level and most popularly known as Pico de Orizaba) and Iztaccihuatl’s Ayoloco Glacier (or what’s left of it) and each weekend and I got to see (and document in Instagram stories) how they are melting at alarming rates. The ice I walked on one weekend, was gone the next, retracting meters in days, exposing the bedrock, changing the routes and making the climb harder and more dangerous. I am talking about pieces of ice the size of stadiums that have survived millenia gone in a matter of days. It’s expected that Mexico will lose all of its glaciers by 2050, but I think it will be a matter of years not decades before everything is gone. If you want to see our beautiful glaciers with your own eyes, I suggest looking for a trustworthy adventure company and book the next expedition. Our mountains are as beautiful and challenging as the European peaks, or even better.
The Mexican national park service is overrun by the new myriad of weekend hikers. They are defunded and understaffed as the current administration has no interest in conservationist efforts. But as demand increases, at some point, the policymakers should catch up, if not during this administration, then maybe in the next one as more people visiting the parks means more eyes witnessing what’s going on. It is just a matter of one video going viral to bring attention and resources to this matter.
All the people who started doing outdoor activities to a certain extent have realized the world is dying, not enough is being done to avoid it and we are losing the forests and the glaciers at alarming rates and entire ecosystems are being erased everyday. This is not new, but seems like the general population doesn’t even care. Why should they care for something they have only seen in pictures and videos? To love something, first you have to live it, and people are rushing to the national parks and forests to live this before it is too late. That’s why the outdoor trend is growing exponentially. People are experiencing the outdoors for the first time and they are falling in love (in most of the cases, although there are still exceptions) and once they fall in love, they start caring, and caring is the first step toward fixing what’s wrong.
This represents a huge opportunity for change and change means business. As I mentioned in previous articles, doing good is a very good business. Tour operators with services that cater to social and environmental consciousness are getting booked and sold out every weekend, which we also should pay attention to because if this industry grows uncontrollably and without supervision, it could lead to a faster degradation (by over use) of the national parks where these outdoor activities usually take place. With proper supervision, this industry can lead to effective changes in climate policies because the number of people caring for the environment will grow everyday and politicians will certainly try to grab the attention of this audience and their votes.
Maybe this is how we can really change the world, by making people fall in love with our world first. So, grab your backpack and let’s explore this opportunity, and the world too.