Olympians Sara Renner, Thomas Grandi Take Action for Climate

“We live in a time of hope and humans have a great capacity for doing amazing things,” said Sara Renner, Olympic cross-country skier and 2010 hopeful. “We need to change hope into action.”

This Saturday, Oct. 24, marks International Day of Climate Action. Renner and her husband, Olympic alpine skier Thomas Grandi – who share a passion for the environment – have organized a special event in Canmore, Alberta, where they live.

The couple hopes to draw 350 people to their “Canmore Climate Crusadors” expedition, where people can walk, hike, run, roller ski or cycle from the town’s civic centre to Quarry Lake. The number is a critical one among climatologists, corresponding to 350 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide believed a safe limit for the Earth’s climate. The world mark sits now at about 387 ppm.

“Climate change is a huge issue and we don’t have a lot of time to correct our mistakes,” said Renner, a three-time Olympian who won silver in 2006. “As athletes, we have a voice that people might listen to and hopefully we can unite people.”

Last year, Renner and Grandi led a local 350 movement by inviting Albertans on a 20 km bike ride in nearby Banff. In this year’s event on Saturday, the target is for all participants to reach the Quarry at noon for a group photo. Photos from across the worldwide on that day can be uploaded to 350.org and then are displayed in Times Square in Manhattan. Renner and Grandi have offered a day of skiing (cross-country or donwhill) to the person with the best-decorated 350 banner.

In the midst of training for a run at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Renner said she is just trying to get the word out on 350.

“As a ski racer, winter is what makes us glide,” she said. “Throughout both Thomas and my careers we have noticed that winter is less predictable and racing now relies on snowmaking. On a personal level, once you become a mother, your sense of survival is heightened.”

Several years ago, leading climatologists tracked signs of climate change, including rapid Arctic ice melt, and issued studies showing the danger of having continual carbon dioxide levels above 350 ppm in the atmosphere. For this, they won the Nobel Prize.

For information on the Canmore event, visit www.350canmoreclimatecrusaders.blogspot.com/