Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Driving and Flying for Climate Consciousness?

A Modern Day Sale of Indulgences?

The League of American Bicyclists has a blog post advertising the Climate Ride, to be held from NYC to DC on the 21-25th of September. In May of 2014, there will be one on the Left Coast. For those of us here in the hinterlands, it means driving or flying halfway across the country to California or the East Coast to ride a bike and think deeply about climate policy and climate science. Still some slots left open if you are interested but while you are at it, think of those pounds of carbon you are burning on that jet or SUV to get there (unless you do a self-supported tour to get there).

Raise enough money 
and you get carbon offsets for the trip
I have an alternative suggestion. Why not mimic the Rides of Silence. Each community can organize a climate-ride with a nearby community that is within reasonable cycling distance and link info on the ride to a central organizing ride via the Web. Meet halfway for lunch and discuss ways of reducing our anthropogenic footprint on climate and nature. Bring your checkbook and support a regional organization working to manage anthropogenic impacts to climate change, not to mention habitat destruction. Ride back home again without the CO2 burden of a trip to one of the coasts. Bring someone interested in using bicycling for transportation but who needs a gentle nudge.

If you do the official Climate Ride, have fun but make sure that its more than a feel-good activity held in a sea of indifference--bring something tangible back to your home town. Me? I'd rather avoid the heavy carbon overhead. As I snarked on the LAB blog post, flying to the East coast for a bike ride dedicated to climate consciousness is a little like holding a steak dinner to benefit vegetarianism.

Meanwhile, howz this: Los Alamos and Santa Fe can do a climate-consciousness ride. Let's meet at the Tesuque Market for lunch. I'm not sure that is halfway, but I like the food and don't know of a comparable place in Pojoaque.  Albuquerque and Santa Fe can do one as well; its about fifty miles between them, right?  I am sure that we can pass the hat to our favorite, climate-conscious local charity or the national one of your choice. Send the charity what you would have spent on the plane ticket or gas tank.
Any takers?


Steve A said...

Riding a bike on a self-supported ride is NOT carbon neutral. It takes carbon to raise the food the cyclist consumes.

Khal said...

Never said it was neutral, but is likely less carbon-intensive since one is moving a loaded bike rather than a loaded car.

Ian Brett Cooper said...

Unless we live on a non-mechanized organic farm, store seeds and eat only what the farm produces, pretty much nothing modern humans do is carbon neutral. Depending on what we'd normally be doing instead of riding, cycling may put a lot less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Steve A said...

SOME claim even that cycling is worse for the state of world carbon than driving since cyclists live longer than couch potatoes and thus use more fuel and such. Taken to the extreme, the "greenest" activity is Russian Roulette.

Khal said...

I more or less agree with Steve, at least insofar as cycling as a panacea is largely overblown if the rest of one's life is business as usual. In that case, dying childless is the best one can do to "save the planet".

Lest we all despair and go to the nearest gun shop for that NICS followed by a bullet to the brain, I would make some suggestions:

1. Downsize the house, make sure it is well insulated, and put solar panels on the roof.
2. Be a vegetarian--commercial meat agriculture means you are feeding the cow as well as yourself.
3. Eat locally grown food to minimize transportation overhead.
4. Live close to your usual destinations.
5. ZPG. Repeat. ZPG. Get out those condoms, boys.
6. Die young. Just kidding. But there is a point to all this. Most of us, me included, live as First Worlders and use a lot of energy and resources. To some degree, no matter what we do, we are whistling past the graveyard.

In the final analysis, the sun is slowly aging and will first cook and then swallow the earth whole in a billion or so years. So go ahead. Eat dessert first.

Steve A said...

Make deer hunting legal in Ocean Shores! Takes care of #2 and #3. I had to chase three of them off my back deck this morning including a young buck.

Khal said...

Might take care of #6 as well, depending on your hunting partners, i.e., Greg Lemond.