December 6, 2016

2017 Moving Mountains Symposium: The New Normal

Festival symposium will explore climate change adaptations, innovations and actions

Telluride Mountainfilm will focus on climate change for its 2017 symposium, titled “The New Normal.” The daylong symposium, which kicks off the May 26-29 festival, will unflinchingly delve into the most advanced science and newest developments that are critical to understanding the challenging situation. The symposium will look at the worldwide climate adaptations that are already altering the way we live, probe promising technology and innovation, and offer direct steps for the audience to effect positive change.

Mountainfilm examined climate change at its 2013 symposium, and, in some ways, every recent topic covered by the festival — food, water, population, the extinction crisis and Afghanistan — has been impacted by global warming. It’s even having a deleterious affect on the 2016 Mountainfilm symposium theme of the National Parks, as recently reported by National Geographic.

“Climate change warrants more attention because it’s not just a story of our time, it’s really the only story of our time. What we do today will have an enormous impact on the future,” said festival director David Holbrooke. “When we thought about what our remarkable audience of explorers and adventurers, thinkers and doers really needs to understand better, we kept coming back to climate change.”

The New Normal symposium will have a wide range of speakers — scientists, activists and storytellers — who are on the front lines of the climate issue. As Holbrooke said, “The challenge is how to make programming on climate change feel fresh and forward thinking. We feel that The New Normal allows us to look clear-eyed at what is happening to our planet and also address how some of these potential changes can create a new and vibrant global society.”

This year, the symposium will also look closely at what The New Normal means in the Telluride, Colorado, region. Mountainfilm will collaborate with the people of Ashton Hayes, a British village that has worked assiduously to become carbon neutral. Telluride has always had a reputation as a bastion of innovation, so the symposium will highlight what the local community can do to lead in America and beyond.

This year's symposium theme will extend beyond the day-long symposium on Friday. The New Normal is a broad initiative that will suffuse the festival, alter Mountainfilm’s in-house operations and challenge everyone to effect positive change wherever they live.

James Balog. Environmental photographer James Balog has spent more than three decades chronicling human modification of our planet’s natural systems through images. He is the founder of the Extreme Ice Survey, which is the most wide-ranging photographic study of glaciers ever conducted. His work was the subject of the award-winning documentary Chasing Ice, which screened at Mountainfilm in 2012, as well as the short documentaries 1000 Cuts (Mountainfilm 2015) and Message in a Bottle (Mountainfilm 2016). In 2009, he served as a U.S./NASA representative at the United Nations Conference on climate change in Copenhagen, and he has given presentations at places that range from TED to the White House.

Alizé Carrére. A writer, photographer, cultural anthropologist and National Geographic Explorer, Alizé Carrére has spent several years traveling the world examining the ways humans are adapting to climate change. She has traveled from Madagascar to Norway and India to research and document the stories of the people on the front lines of climate change, such as farmers in Bangladesh who plant floating gardens in the country’s rising waters.

Garry Charnock. In 2005, Garry Charnock brought a proposal to his tiny U.K. village, Ashton Hayes, to band together to become carbon neutral. What happened next was extraordinary: Three-fourths of the population showed up for the first meeting; the community got on board; and it has since cut its carbon emissions by 40 percent — without government funds and spearheaded by volunteers — through modifications as simple as changing light bulbs and improving insulation. Aided by a subsequent grant, Ashton Hayes built a low-carbon sports pavilion and has embarked on other social enterprises. For his work, Charnock was awarded Climate Week’s “Inspirational Leader of the Year Award” in 2011 and continues to spread the word.

Paul Hawken. Starting in the 1960s when he was 20 years old, Paul Hawken has dedicated his life to sustainability and changing the relationship between business and the environment. Today, he is a prominent environmentalist, speaker and author whose seven books include the national bestsellers The National Economy, Growing a Business, The Ecology of Commerce and Blessed Unrest. Hawkin has founded several ecological businesses — including some of the first natural food companies in the U.S. that relied solely on sustainable agriculture practices — written extensively about the impact of commerce on living systems, and consulted with governments and corporations on economic development, industrial ecology and environmental policy. His new book, Project Drawdown, details the most comprehensive plan ever proposed to reverse global warming.

John Holdren. With a rich resume that includes senior advisor to the director at Woods Hole Research Center and Teresa and John Heinz professor of environmental policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, John Holdren served as President Barack Obama’s chief adviser on science and technology issues. Holdren earned his Ph.D. from Stanford in aerospace engineering and theoretical plasma physics. In 1981, he was one of the first recipients of the MacArthur Fellows Program, and his other honors include the Tyler Prize for Environment (2000) and the Heinz Prize for Public Policy (2001). He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Andrew Jones. An expert on international climate and energy issues, Andrew Jones is a system dynamics modeler, keynote speaker and designer of simulation-based learning environments. He co-founded Climate Interactive, a company that helped to develop C-ROADS, the user-friendly climate simulation adopted by climate analysts around the world.

Auden Schendler. As vice president of sustainability at Aspen Skiing Company, Schendler focuses on large-scale solutions to climate change, primarily through the routes of clean energy and activism. He was named a global warming innovator in 2006 and has testified to Congress on the impacts of climate change on public lands. He is the author of Getting Green Done: Hard Truths from the Front Lines of the Sustainability Revolution and his writing on the subject has been appeared in the L.A. Times, Scientific American and High Country News.

Passes for the 2017 festival are now on sale.

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