Running To Fight Climate Change: Oliviero Alotto

Photo: Massimo Pinca (c)

“I run for a better world: a sustainable food system to fight Climate Change.”

“I run for a better world: a sustainable food system to fight Climate Change.”  Environmental activist Oliviero Alotto has run all over the world to spread awareness about nutrition and to fight climate change. He told his story to Italics Magazine.

Italics Magazine: You combine physical activity, a healthy diet, and climate change; tell us more about your mission and how our readers can help the planet through attitude changes such as yours?

Oliviero Alotto: I decided to take up a challenge #RunBefore2020, since there is not much time left. Climate change has become a daily concern that everyone is now talking about; however, few want to align their attitude to make this world a little better. I run; run around the world to bring forward this campaign. I want people to fall in love with what our planet is, our Earth, the beauty that surrounds us, and the indispensable need to protect it.

(c) Alessandro Ghignone

Food and plastic

Every one of our actions has a consequence. Eating is an act that we perform frequently during the day, an act that can bring a positive or negative consequence; I wish it could be only a positive act. We can choose to eat less meat, be aware of the origin of the vegetables that we place on our tables. Choosing to use less plastic drinking from a reusable bottle, moving around on bicycles polluting less or even picking up a piece of trash along our path in nature we can spread the knowledge that we are and have to be citizens before consumers and as consumers we have the power to shift the market as we please.

IM: How did you get passionate about running and climate change, and when did you decide you would unite the two?

OA: For many years I have done sports and run long distances. I noticed the interest in this activity when I would tell people I ran 200 kilometers. They would ask me why and how I would run for so long. I did not want this passion to be a form of hedonism, rather this passion would become a form of narrative to tell others about the world and make sure everybody took charge in preserving it. When you spend many hours on top of a mountain, those mountains, those footpaths, you feel like they are yours and you love them even more.

Oliviero’s Future Plans

My future plan is to run in Africa, the continent which has been suffering due to climate change the most, although it is producing the least global CO2.

IM: “Free in the mind and the body” when you run, and now that you are an activist and have been for a while, what has changed in your vision of the mission? What other goals have you set for yourself?

OA: I wish more people would begin to see the beauty of the world that surrounds us, even those most remote locations, those more unknown, and only reachable on foot. I travel the world to save those botanical species at risk from climate change.

IM: Together with Slow Food you have raised funds for projects in Africa, could you tell us more about it?

OA: Along with Slow Food, a charity that supports organic, healthy and environmentally grown food, I have supported vegetable gardens in Africa. So far my projects have supported three expanding gardens in Africa. And anyone can help this ever-growing project with now over 10,000 gardens in Africa.

IM: “Earth on Fire” is an association you founded whose mission is to help local citizens and migrants. Projects have been developed including the Remembrance Day Train which brought young people from all over Italy to visit concentration camps as Auschwitz and Birkenau in 2005. How does remembering insert in the environmental and sport activities that you perform?

OA: Remembrance is everything, if we cannot begin to be conscious of what our past was, then we cannot look to our future. There is a quote by Bertol Brecht which I particularly connect to:

If we could learn to look instead of gawking,
We’d see the horror in the heart of farce,
If only we could act instead of talking,
We wouldn’t always end up on our arse.
This was the thing that nearly had us mastered;
Don’t yet rejoice in his defeat, you men!
Although the world stood up and stopped the bastard,
The bitch that bore him is in heat again.

― Bertolt Brecht, The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

This is the message that has really taught me to live and live again. I began visiting concentration camps in 2003, and a lot has changed since then. Young people today study and research the horrors that were part of our history, rendering the pain in the past quite impersonal to us nowadays. Similarly, with the environment, we worry about only what we know and are hardly aware about the importance of our actions and how it impacts us daily; this is a tendency to invert. Put simply, we consider the environment an argument distant from us, often ignoring environmental crises happening somewhere else in the world and this should not be happening.

IM: Slow Food wants to communicate the pragmatic change in food’s fruition. A concrete action that is part of our daily life, yet is hard for many of us to practice. Why? Furthermore, in your opinion why do many have a hard time believing in climate change?

OA: It is easier to believe otherwise. To see something so far off from us, and hence, something we cannot worry about, while instead it is visible, dramatic, daily, and clearly before us. It is hard because it plays deep into our desire to give excuses. We are always consumers ready to eat, but it’s too difficult to question our habits and put ourselves up for discussion. When we do this, then there are no excuses for our behavior and we’ll be aware of what we actually do. Hence, once understood, the best, most ethical option becomes obvious, yet harder to practice.

IM: For our readers, what can we do when we have run as much as yourself?

OA: We can spread the message with concrete daily actions. Changing our menu and together , one of my goals in 2020 is to bring more people to see those glaciers.

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