Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Ride for Climate by State….

September 19th, 2007 by David
David, Bill, Golden Gate Bridge

We have now completed the northern route across the U.S. – a 5,000 mile, 5 month journey from Boston to San Francisco. We talked to thousands of people and gave over 45 presentations on global warming. Read our final impressions here on the next post below.

Here is an index of our trip by state – starting with Massachusetts and ending in California. Click on the state to read about our travels there. To read general comments, click here. To see all of our video logs, cick here. Thank you.

What is next? We need to take some time off, but stay tuned and check back here for a potential return trip across the south (we need to do significant fund raising and planing to make it a reality). Until then, thank you for following along, and let us know if you have suggestions for such a return trip.

Go Light

September 18th, 2007 by Bill
Bill riding through South Dakota

When I was thinking about taking on this project and the USA bicycle tour, someone told me: If you want to hate this country read the newspaper every day; if you want to love this country ride a bicycle across it. They were certainly right about the second part. We live in a country with exquisite physical beauty and amazing human diversity of all kinds. I encourage you to go see it along the back roads at ten miles per hour. It will give you hope.

Ride for Climate is simply a few people who took a bit of their time to tell people about a large problem and encourage action on solutions to the problem. The bulk of the work was done by a handful of people. Many other people supported us along the way. We gave over 45 public talks, kept a website, and reached thousands of other people through newspaper, radio and TV interviews. Anyone could do something similar. It was a lot of work, but a lot of fun too. I’m fairly certain that in 40 years I won’t look back and say “I wish I had done something else with that year of my life.”

One of the most striking things to me on this journey was the interest in enacting solutions to global warming once people understood the nature of the problem and the kinds of solutions that are available to us. When given good information about the problem, the vast majority of people wanted significant action. Yet, too often people were happy that someone else was taking action and speaking out without recognizing their personal responsibility to make changes in their own life and lifestyle. Too many people are still waiting for someone else to come to the rescue without recognizing that each of us can and must be a part of the solution.

Along the journey some people have posed the question “who is your target audience?” You are. Have you changed out a few light bulbs? Great – change out all of them. Have you purchased a more fuel efficient vehicle? Excellent – try to leave it parked a couple days a week and find alternative ways to get to work. Have you written to your legislators to tell them that they need to promote solutions to global warming? Don’t wait; do it today.

Some people say that personal action – changing a light bulb or getting a home energy audit – has far too little impact to address this problem. They are certainly correct – we will need to make significant policy changes and changes in the way we create and use energy if we are going to reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by what scientists say is needed — at least 80% by 2050. But all of these larger changes begin with individual action – the action of a student, a soccer mom, a business leader, a politician. Don’t underestimate that first small step. A friend of mine emailed recently to tell us a story. We stopped at the summer camp she helps to run and gave a talk to the kids. One of the kids, she told us, returned home after camp to find that a new coal power plant is proposed on the Zuni reservation where she lives. She has taken it upon herself to organize a campaign to fight this new coal power plant.

We have a choice – we can have a world that is a little bit hotter or one that is a lot hotter. Science tells us that the planet will warm in the next century, but whether it warms a couple degrees or many degrees depends largely on how much carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere through burning fossil fuels. Our actions in the coming years will determine if we give our children a healthy planet or one with a dangerously high fever. It is our choice.

Bike path into Hartford

I had never done a bicycle tour before this one. On April 21st, I started this bicycle tour with a ride of 60 miles. That night, tired and very sore, I looked at a map of the USA and saw how little of the ride I had completed and how incredibly far I had left to go. It felt impossible. Yet, the next day we rode 60 miles and then again the day after that. Now, five months later, I have crossed the USA and what is most apparent is not how difficult it was, but how easy it was. And so it is. Take action – you will find it is easy and it will make you happy. You’ll have something to tell your grandkids.

A few weeks ago I attended the wedding of two very close friends. On their wedding program was this poem. It seems like an appropriate way to end this portion of the journey.

In the next century

or the one beyond that,

they say,

are valleys, pastures.

We can meet there in peace

if we make it.

To climb these coming crests

one word to you, to

you and your children:

stay together

learn the flowers

go light

~Gary Snyder

National Public Education Campaign?

August 30th, 2007 by Bill

It felt strange for me to watch David and friends ride off from Portland and know that I would not be with them.

A group of cyclists escorts us out of Portland

But I have stayed behind for a couple weeks to begin searching for a job and to work on what will hopefully become an op-ed or otherwise published piece that highlights some of our major findings from this journey. Nicky Phear, our friend from Missoula who teaches at the University of MT, is taking my spot and the three of us will complete the ride into San Francisco. I will catch up to them in Northern California and ride the last week into San Francisco (including the big group ride on Sept. 15th!).

We’ve learned an incredible amount along this journey. As much as we have taught people about the science, impacts and solutions to global warming, we have learned from Americans all across the country. David and I both feel that a national public education campaign on global warming is necessary. There were two main things that led us to this conclusion. The first is that almost no one could explain the most basic concepts around global warming. The second is that almost everyone was open (and often strongly in favor) of the kinds of solutions that we were discussing.

We came to believe that if people had a better understanding of the problem and the kind of solutions that will be most important that we could really begin to move forward. But this will require a broad national education campaign to help all Americans understand the basic key points: global warming is a serious human-created problem, the most significant issue is carbon dioxide, carbon dioxide comes from burning fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas), solutions need to deal with the quantity of fossil fuels that we are burning and that solutions (energy conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy) make good economic and environmental sense. We recognize that there are other important issues (methane, deforestation, etc.) but we feel that the complexity of the problem requires us to focus on the key issues.

How to best convey this information is another issue. It probably isn’t through a technical PowerPoint presentation with bullet points and footnotes. The best example I can think of from the past is the Keep America Beautiful ads from the 70’s. If you don’t remember these you can watch one here. I was about 6 years old when these aired and I still remember them well. Making a national public education campaign happen will require a President who understands the gravity of the issue. We can all take action by asking the Presidential candidates about this and supporting efforts, such as Focus the Nation, to get the candidates to make global warming a priority.

Tune into ‘Despierta America’ tomorrow

July 3rd, 2007 by David

Tomorrow morning (Wed July 4th), at about 8:30 AM eastern time, I will appear on ‘Despierta America,’ a morning show on Univision. Univision is the nation’s largest Spanish speaking network (yes, the interview will be in Spanish), and, if you get any Spanish TV, you likely get this channel (the network claims 40 million viewers worldwide). The interview should be about both my last trip through Latin America, as well as Ride for Climate USA. So, tune in, especially if you want to see me encouraging people to switch to energy efficient bulbs in Spanish!

Bill and I also just crossed the border with Wyoming, and are taking a short lunch break to get out of the heat – stay tuned for our next entry on crossing South Dakota (and of course what South Dakotans think of global warming….).

What’s happening with Ride for Climate?

February 28th, 2007 by Bill

You won’t see many posts here until the Ride begins in April. At that point, we will make regular posts to this blog. But it’s almost March and we thought we should give an update. The Ride for Climate project is going incredibly well! We now have presentations planned or in the works from Boston to Minneapolis and will continue working our way west. Several new volunteer coordinators are helping to make this happen. Check the Ride for Climate “events” page to see the latest tour schedule.

The timing couldn’t be better. Many significant events are proving 2007 to be a critical year in efforts to address global warming. The global warming film “An Inconvenient Truth” just won an Oscar for best documentary. A group of businesses (including DuPont, Alcoa, General Electric, and Caterpillar Inc.) and environmental organizations have come together to encourage strong national legislation to address global warming. Read more at http://www.us-cap.org/

A coalition including Yahoo, Wal*Mart, the US Dept. of Energy and others have come together to encourage every American to switch to energy efficient lightbulbs. They point out that changing a single light to an energy efficient compact florescent lightbulb (CFL) will prevent more than 450 pounds of global warming pollution over its lifetime (not to mention save you money). And it only takes about 18 seconds to change a lightbulb. Read more at www.18seconds.org

And, perhaps most significantly, the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released in early February. Their scientific reports are prepared by the world’s leading scientists and subjected to extensive peer review. This report concludes that human influences on global warming are “very likely” (> 90% chance). Read more at http://www.ipcc.ch/

The impacts from global warming look particularly bad for some of the poorest nations and poorest people on the earth. We have a choice to continue business as usual or to find new ways to make sure that our children inherit a planet that allows them to continue to be as prosperous as we have been. Over the next few months, we’ll be talking a lot more about global warming, the science, the impacts and what we can do to make necessary changes. We look forward to that discussion and learning from the many people we will meet along the way.

Why are we doing this?

December 7th, 2006 by Bill

Why would we give up good jobs and a paycheck, leave our homes and hit the road for months?

Ride for Climate USA Route

We believe global warming (climate change) is a problem so important that we need to tell people about it and inspire action. Scientists tell us we need to act soon if we are to avoid the most severe consequences. Yet, global warming is a complex problem that some prefer to ignore because it’s too complicated or disturbing. Or perhaps they do not believe global warming is a problem created by humans that can be solved by humans.

A US poll from June 2006 shows 41% of Americans believe human activity such as burning fossil fuels is causing global warming, but just as many say either that warming has been caused by natural patterns in the earth’s environment (21%), or that there is no solid evidence of global warming (20%).

The public also is divided over the gravity of the problem. While 41% say global warming is a very serious problem, 33% see it as somewhat serious and roughly a quarter (24%) think it is either not too serious or not a problem at all.

We believe that the science is clear enough to show that global warming is being caused by human actions and that it is a serious problem that needs immediate attention. THE SOLUTIONS EXIST; WE NEED THE WILL TO ACT.

Here are a few others who agree:

“A (US House of Representatives) delegation recently traveled to Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand to visit researchers studying climate change. ‘Of the 10 of us, only three were believers,’ says Representative Sherwood Boehlert of New York. ‘Every one of the others said this opened their eyes.'”

Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), head of House Science Committee from “Global Warming Heats Up” by Jeffrey Kluger, March 2006, Time Magazine
*****

“There’s no time to wait because tomorrow is now. We are living in a carbon-constrained world where the amount of CO2 (carbon dioxide) must be reduced…But industry cannot get there alone. We need to work in concert with the government and environmental groups to promote and reward leadership.”

Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of General Electric, Ecomagination launch, May 9, 2005
*****

“DAVID BRANCACCIO (Host): Other scientists looking at different parts of our Earth’s system believe there is an urgent need to act now. Dr. Tim Barnett of Scripps Institution of Oceanography near San Diego used to be a skeptic. Then he began examining how global warming is affecting our oceans.

DR. TIM BARNETT: We’re not talking scare tactics here. We’re not talking about being doom and gloom. We’re talking about the situation that we’re creating for ourselves. And the best minds on the planet tell us that we’ve got a problem. And we better damn well pay attention to it. And we just have not done that yet.”

From the PBS Now Special Edition, “The Politics of Global Warming” aired 4/22/05
*****

“We accept that the science on global warming is overwhelming. There should be mandatory carbon constraints.”

John W. Rowe, chairman and CEO of Exelon Corp., in Business Week, “Special Report: Global Warming,” August 16, 2004
*****

Useful Links

December 5th, 2006 by Bill

Here are a few websites that we’ve found useful:

http://www.ucar.edu/research/climate/
National Center for Atmospheric Research climate page has the lastest scientific information.

http://www.princeton.edu/~cmi/
Climate Mitigation Initiative. Sounds horribly boring, but it has excellent information including a flash slide show that clearly explains solutions available right now.

http://www.ucsusa.org/global_warming/
Union of Concerned Scientists is an independent nonprofit alliance of more than 100,000 concerned citizens and scientists.

http://www.realclimate.org/
The hard-core science. This is not so easy to understand for the non science geek, but it gives the straight scoop on the science behind global warming.

www.green-e.org
Green-e certifies greentags/renewable energy credits so you know you are getting the real deal.

www.awea.org
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has advocated the development of wind energy as a reliable, environmentally superior energy alternative in the United States and around the world.

http://dsireusa.org
The Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy (DSIRE) is a comprehensive source of information on state, local, utility, and selected federal incentives that promote renewable energy.

http://hes.lbl.gov
Home Energy Save – a web-based home energy audit tool. Try it out!