I’VE BEEN an activist since I was eight years old. As a kid of Polish descent growing up in Minnesota, other kids would tease me for my funny-sounding name (it’s pronounced My-ka). I could sit there and take it, or I could stand up for myself. I chose the latter and I’ve been doing so ever since.
Since my early 20s, my life has been devoted to the mountains, so naturally, when I became a professional climber and guide, I turned into an advocate for the outdoors, too. I moved from Colorado to Jackson in 2011, in part due to the great access to ice climbing in the White Mountains.
It was here, perched on sheets of ice with an ice ax and crampons, that I first started to see the impacts of our changing climate. Over the years, I’ve seen increasingly massive fluctuations in ice melt and flash freezing shorten our winters, compromise our state’s economy, and even increase the number of mountain rescues.
It’s always been important to me to fight for the places where I have the privilege to spend time. That is why I can no longer stand by as Donald Trump continues to bully the environment into submission. During his four years in office, Trump has pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement on climate, rolled back countless environmental regulations, and opened up protected land to oil drilling.
I will be voting for Joe Biden for president in November. Here’s why you should be doing the same: Our entire livelihood in New Hampshire depends on it. Outdoor recreation in this state brings in $8.7 billion in consumer spending, including $528 million in tax revenue for our schools and infrastructure, and creates 79,000 jobs. Some 69 percent of New Hampshire residents participate in outdoor recreation each year. It is part of our fiercely independent way of life here.
Between 1970 and 2018, winter temperatures in Concord rose by 5.6 degrees Fahrenheit. If that pattern continues with business-as-usual emissions, scientists estimate that by 2040, southern New England ski resorts will no longer sustain skiing. Let me be clear here, the base of Attitash ski area — elevation 600 feet — may not have snow in the decades to come. When our mountains don’t get snow, fewer people come to New Hampshire — low snow winters mean 33 percent fewer skier visits and millions of dollars lost in spending from alpine and Nordic skiers and snowmobilers.
It doesn’t matter who you are or what party you follow, between droughts, the health of our forests and watershed, and the impact on our economy, we’re all affected when there is less snow. Maybe you vote on other issues — taxes, jobs, or health care — but if everyone doesn’t have access to clean water and clean air, none of those things matter. For New Hampshire to thrive, we need strong winters and that means electing a president who will work toward effective, bipartisan climate policies.
Climate solutions have to be a global effort. Biden understands that. He gets that in order to show up on our home turf, we also have to show up to the world. He has vowed to recommit the U.S. to the Paris Agreement on his first day as president. He will invest in clean energy technology that could transform our global emissions and our economy and put the hammer down on the mega polluters that have gone unchecked for far too long.
As the mother of 4-year-old twins, I can see that my kids’ lives are going to be spent putting the pieces back together from what Trump has done. I was brought up knowing that civic engagement is critical if you want to see change in the world. I need to show up for Irenna and Kaz now. Because I want them to know that if you see something you know isn’t right, you don’t hide and cower. You stand up and demand change.