"If you've got a politician that's running for office who thinks he's smarter than 98% of the world's climate scientists, they're crooks. Or, they're dumbasses." That's Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard in the upcoming film CO₂LD Waters, for which the trailer was released yesterday. CO₂LD Waters documents the importance of climate change to anglers, the threat it poses to our fishing and hunting opportunities and what we, as anglers, can do about it.
The film features some of the angling community's best known voices and influences, including the aforementioned Chouinard, Craig Matthews, Tim Romano, Steve Hemkens and Todd Tanner.
In the trailer, Tim Romano notes, "As a community of anglers, hunters and outdoors-people, we are a powerful voice and we can change things," adding that it is time for the angling community to "Speak up." And that seems to be the mission behind CO₂LD Waters, motivating us as anglers to be heard, to protect what we hold most dear against those who seek to take it away from us, and to stand up for our children and grandchildren.
Romano is correct - but it is important to recognize just how correct he is. The fishing and hunting community possesses an enormous amount of power. According to a 2011 US Fish and Wildlife survey, the number of anglers and hunters in the US totals 37.4 million individuals, 33.1 million of which are anglers. To put that in perspective, the sporting community is larger than policy-affecting "powerhouses" such as the AARP (37 m), the NEA (3.2 m) and the NRA (5 m).
Despite examples set by these public-sector interest groups, especially the hunting and angling-familiar NRA -- who has demonstrated repeatedly how a relatively small group of motivated individuals can have sweeping impacts on public policy -- the long-standing problem with anglers and hunters across the US is that we rarely leverage the enormous power we wield. Or, worse yet, we act directly against our own best interests.
Conservation Hawks' Todd Tanner notes, "The science on climate change is incredibly clear in that we're causing it, and that's having an impact. We've got the technology but what we need now is the leadership, because if this gets away from us, it takes everything else away. And for whatever reason, we don't see that clearly. At least we're sure not acting like it." Matthews adds, "without cold clean waters, we don't have trout. If we let that slide, we've failed."
The trailer closes with a quote from Albert Einstein which reads, "Those who have the duty to know, have the duty to act." And that truly is the duty that we have as anglers -- to ourselves and to future generations -- to recognize what we know and act upon it, instead of being compelled by rhetoric and ideology to wrongly defend those whose greed and shortsightedness stands to forever rob of us our heritage.
In the words of the oft-quoted Teddy Roosevelt, "Defenders of the short-sighted men who in their greed and selfishness will, if permitted, rob our country of half its charm by their reckless extermination of all useful and beautiful wild things sometimes seek to champion them by saying the 'the game belongs to the people.' So it does; and not merely to the people now alive, but to the unborn people. The 'greatest good for the greatest number' applies to the number within the womb of time, compared to which those now alive form but an insignificant fraction. Our duty to the whole, including the unborn generations, bids us restrain an unprincipled present-day minority from wasting the heritage of these unborn generations. The movement for the conservation of wild life and the larger movement for the conservation of all our natural resources are essentially democratic in spirit, purpose, and method."
CO₂LD Waters is an official selection of the 2015 Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T). View the trailer below. The full film will debut in January on the F3T. Learn more at co2ldwaters.org.