Sign In:


Last Step!

Please enter your public display name and a secure password.

Plan to post in the forums? Change your default forum handle here!

Check Out Our Shop

Angel Collinson Interviews her Hero, Bill Barron, About Climate Change

TGR photo. 

When I was a kid, my hero was Batman. I thought he was the coolest. But as I grew up, I realized what it actually takes to get truly inspired—and the people that plant the seeds of inspiration are usually not wearing skin tight leather and capes while driving batmobiles (even though I still think those things are pretty sweet).

For me, one of my biggest inspirations is a humble, unassuming ex-ski patrolman named Bill Barron. 

Bill grew up skiing at Snowbird and Alta and I’ve known him since I was a little girl. He was a patroller at Alta and a skilled carpenter and craftsman. He’s a kind, warm soul, and has the kind of sheepish wide smile that makes you want to be his best friend.

From September 7-21, 2016, Bill traveled from Utah's Highest to lowest point as a call for Utah to come together to address climate change.

He talks quietly but when he speaks, the meaning of his words is loud.

In 2012 he dropped everything and decided to run for congress. Boom. Just like that. I’ve always thought... who does that? Who just goes for it like that? Bill does. He knows climate change is the most important issue of our time and this is the biggest thing he can comprehend doing to raise awareness about climate change. How inspirational is that?

Last week, I caught up with him and asked him some questions about how he plans to continue tackling Climate Change.

Angel: What motivated you to sacrifice your entire life to this cause of trying to raise awareness and spark public conversation about climate change?

Bill: Well, I think it started with realizing just how much I appreciate being out in nature. I’m an outdoors guy and have always loved it. Once the severity of our impact on the climate really hit me, I realized I wanted and needed to create change—so my daughter and future generations could be so fortunate to experience what I have and what has given my life so much meaning.

When I learned about carbon fee and dividend, I realized this was a solution that matched the scale—a big enough solution for the magnitude of what we are up against. It drove me to do what I could to propel the message out further, and that lead to me running for office. If I wasn’t going to run and talk about climate change, no one was. I knew if I wanted to walk my walk I had to stick my neck out and be uncomfortable—in my opinion, that’s the only way to live. So I ran for office and now here I am, three elections later running for office again.

Angel: Yeah!! I love it—all of it—but especially the part about being uncomfortable as the only way to live. So where do you get your inspiration from in the face of such a daunting task?

Bill mid-Climate Campaign—spreading the good word. 

Bill: Friends, family, and people who believe in what I’m doing and appreciate how far out it is for me to be doing this. And then there are people I meet along the way who unexpectedly appreciate what I’m doing. There can be so much push-back in places for speaking up about climate change and it’s amazing how just a few people who stand behind what I’m doing can create the inspiration for me. I’m inspired by how much I love nature and the outdoors, and realizing all these natural and living things don’t have a voice and are just dealing with that’s happening. I like to believe I’m trying to be that voice for nature and all the things we’ve come to love and enjoy and appreciate.

Angel: Yes. A peaceful warrior. So, I know you’re involved with Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) and as I understand one of their primary missions is to get carbon fee and dividend legislation passed. Why did their mission speak to you and can you describe how it works?

Bill: When I learned about Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) I loved its solution: carbon fee and dividend.

CCL’s style is one of trying to build relationships and find common ground and be positive. To be for something rather than against something—and that really fit my personality. Carbon Fee and Dividend is the policy proposal created by Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) to account for the costs of burning fossil fuels. It’s the policy that climate scientists and economists alike say is the best first step to reduce the likelihood of catastrophic climate change from global warming.

Learn more about how the CCL policy works here.

Angel: So I know this will be your third time running for office now. How do you feel the general public’s attitude towards climate has changed, or has it?

Bill: It has. When I first ran in 2012, you had to be really careful on how to message the issue. Typically if you said you were concerned about climate change it would raise hairs and you usually had to start with air or water quality issues. But now it’s more accepted that climate change is an issue and the consensus is much more by and large one of, “Hell yeah this is an issue and we need to do something about it!”

In 2012 I got .7 percent of the vote; in 2014 I got 1.5 percent; this year I’m polling at 5-6 percent, which is way more than in 2014. Evidence seems to indicate that people are keying into this, that people identify with it and see there’s a need to speak up.

Angel: Right on! You got this. So, if people reading this are in Utah, one thing they can do if all this resonates with them is to vote for you. (Ballots are mailed out this week and due November 8). What do you recommend to anyone and everyone else who cares about climate change and wants to do something about it?

Bill: Keep reaching out. Every time I’ve met with members of congress they always say they don’t hear enough about climate change from their constituents. No matter who is in office they need to hear that people are concerned about this issue because in the end they know their positions rely on support from their constituents. I always encourage people to reach out to political leaders and voice their concern about climate change and be willing to talk about it. Sadly, it’s become so polarized that people tend to not talk about it because it not a dinnertime conversation anymore. But we need to be talking about it, and having the conversation so there’s more awareness around what’s happening. It relies on us as people to create the change and it’s not going to happen if we aren’t talking about it and being willing to have that conversation.

Skiing in AK. TGR photo. 

Angel: Yeah, that’s been my experience as well—when I visited Washington lobbying with Protect Our Winters, every time they always say, “email, call, write us! We actually read and listen to all the messages and that’s one of our main lines of knowing what the people we represent want.” For some reason I was surprised to hear that. I guess I assumed they brushed our messages aside. But I started calling my senators during key times when they are talking/voting about certain issues- and it’s so easy to just go online and look up who your representatives are and what their contact info is.

Angel: Any last words?

Bill: Yeah. I think that I’m always trying to be filled with optimism and share with everyone that we have an opportunity to create change, which is critical for our well being. We can’t wait for others to lead for us, we have to lead ourselves—speak up and be the change. No one is going to do it for us.

About The Author

stash member Angel Collinson

"These are the good ol' days."