scale of hope
(Photo/screen capture courtesy Patagonia)

Climbing Meets Climate Change in Patagonia’s ‘The Scale of Hope’

A climber and former climate advisor to President Obama stars in this politically charged documentary set in the Alaska Range.

Patagonia has never been shy about politics. Founded by climbing legend Yvon Chouinard in 1973, the company has a long history of taking progressive stances on current issues.

That trend continues with Patagonia’s new documentary “The Scale of Hope.” If the title sounds reminiscent of a certain president’s autobiography, that’s no accident.

The one-hour film follows Molly Kawahata, an alpine climber and former climate advisor to President Barack Obama’s White House. It sees her preparing for a climbing expedition in the Alaska Range while also working to create a new climate narrative “centered on hope,” Patagonia said.

“You don’t try to climb something that’s literally impossible,” she said in the trailer. “You have to know that you could get to the top. In the climate movement, we need to do the same.”

Like Obama’s book, the film also combines Kawahata’s personal history with political urgency. She travels to the Topaz Internment Camp in the Utah desert. That’s where the U.S. interned Japanese Americans during World War II — including Kawahata’s grandparents.

“That whole thing happened because of a guy who signed something in the same building I worked in at the White House,” Kawahata said in the film. “That was a policy. Policies change everything.”

Climate Change Goals, Film on Tour, and More

In the film, Kawahata points to one effective way of fighting climate change: registering new voters.

Patagonia doesn’t stop at simply including this idea in its documentary, either. Company leaders have also created a webpage devoted to the midterm elections.

“Patagonia is asking its community to register, vote, and, most importantly, volunteer to ensure we have enough poll workers and encourage maximum participation in the 2022 midterms,” the company said.

Beginning Sept. 8, Kawahata will tour through six cities to screen the film. She will also use the events to get young people registered to vote and involved in the midterms. The tour includes Pittsburgh; Atlanta; Seattle; Reno, Nev.; Palo Alto, Calif.; and Golden, Colo. Find out more about film tour locations online.

“‘The Scale of Hope’ is a story about struggle, hope, and what it will take to amass the political will to solve the greatest challenge of our time,” Patagonia said.

(Photo/Andrew Burton and Michael Kirby for Patagonia)
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Andrew McLemore
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An award-winning journalist and photographer, Andrew McLemore brings more than 14 years of experience to his position as Associate News Editor for Lola Digital Media. Andrew is a musician, climber and traveler who currently lives in Cuenca, Ecuador, which he uses as a home base for adventures throughout the Americas. When he's not writing, playing gigs or exploring the outdoors, he's hanging out with his dog Campana.