Chris Wallace, Fox News Sunday
Steve Scully, C-SPAN Networks
Kristen Welker, NBC News
Susan Page, USA Today
Dear Mr. Wallace, Mr. Scully, Ms. Welker, Ms. Page:
As proud members of the outdoor industry, we write to urge you to put climate change and the protection of public lands and outdoor spaces front and center in all the upcoming presidential and vice-presidential debates.
The climate crisis is no longer a far-off threat — it’s directly harming the health and safety of Americans across the nation. This summer, wildfires, hurricanes, and extreme weather conditions have cost billions in destruction and scarred wild spaces that are a treasured part of our nation’s heritage. Like COVID-19, the effects of climate change and environmental pollution are falling most heavily on low-income communities, rural communities and people of color. All of this will only get more dangerous and more destructive without meaningful action from Washington. It is critical that the candidates vying for the highest offices in the nation respond to present their plans for addressing the climate crisis.
America’s public lands and outdoor recreation play a vital role in our economy and can be powerful forces in stimulating recovery in the years ahead. Prior to the pandemic, the outdoor industry was growing faster than the rest of the economy, generating $887 billion in consumer spending annually, as well as supporting 7.6 million jobs that can’t be outsourced or automated. The majority of outdoor businesses are small, entrepreneurial and often bring economic lifeblood to rural America. But climate change threatens the future of our industry — putting our operations, employees, customers, and the communities we support in peril. Based on the jobs and growth provided by the outdoor industry, and the staggering costs associated with climate change, it’s fair to say that damaging the environment means damaging the economy. We can’t afford to do either right now.
It is crucial that the millions of outdoor industry employees, and the 145,000,000 voters that can be identified as part of the broader outdoor community, hear from the candidates on how they plan to address the immediate and future threats associated with the climate crisis. Moreover, Democrats and Republicans alike plan to prioritize candidates’ views on climate change when deciding how to cast their ballot this November. They all deserve to hear the candidates’ climate plans during these debates.
Businesses like ours are already taking action to address climate change, protect our natural resources and public lands, and advocate for a clean energy future. But this election will be another defining moment in the global fight to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, and it is crucial that the candidates explain how they’ll take on this enormous challenge.
This isn’t a political or partisan exercise — this is a matter of our industry’s future, our economy’s future, our children’s future. We are all responsible for doing our part to take on the climate crisis, and we hope you will do yours by asking candidates how they will address one of the most important issues of our time.
Chris Heysel, Environmental Impact Lead, Arc’teryx Equipment
Jenn Swain, Global Senior Sustainability Manager, Burton Snowboards
Corley Kenna, Senior Director of Global PR & Communications, Patagonia
Jennifer McLaren, President, Smartwool
Amy Roberts, Senior Director of Brand Impact, The North Face
Colleen Vien, Director of Sustainability, Timberland
Luis Benitez, VP of Government Affairs and Global Impact, VF Corporation