The Bigger Picture Behind Evan's Climate Ride

The following is a little background about my motivation for doing the Climate Ride, how you can get involved and go green(er), and why it's critical that we act now. There are also some very concrete outcomes I hope to achieve (no, I'm not talking about my thighs).

Here's my donation page: www.climateride2008.kintera.org/evan

There are some easy ways we can all chip in to reduce global warming emissions.

Making the change to renewable energy is probably an option wherever you live, and often for only a marginal cost increase. If you like to leave the light on when you switch rooms, at least you'll know that somewhere a windmill is spinning for you. I'm currently purchasing 100% green energy from ConEdison.

We spend a lot of time at work. Do what you can to garner support among your colleagues and make the appropriate changes around the office. There is often a latent and widespread environmental consensus waiting to be tapped. I recently drafted some pilot sustainability goals for my workplace, the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs, to cover the environmental costs of our operation: energy, transportation, food (such as Fair Trade coffee for events), and print publishing.

As much as you can, walk, bike, or take public transportation wherever you go. It's often healthier, more fun, and eye-opening to the worlds around us. The internal combustion engine must go the way of the dinosaurs within our lifetimes if we're to get tailpipe emissions under control. They account for about 20% of American emissions, and America makes up about 25% of global emissions, despite constituting only 4% of the global population. By biking as much as I can I free up one space on the subway for someone who can't bike or doesn't want to.

Clean Air-Cool Planet has done some great research to show that, while there are still some problems in the new industry of carbon offsetting, many good companies do exist that fund renewable energy projects to absorb whatever emissions you can't eliminate from your lifestyle. I pledge to retroactively offset 5 years of automobile driving (~60,000 miles) and every airline flight I have taken and plan to take. Most likely I'll do this through Native Energy, a company that builds renewable energy capacity on tribal lands.

All of these activities have costs that aren't factored into the prices we pay as consumers. But they are real costs. It is our responsibility to pay them and to start forcing our governance--local, state, federal, international--to account for and eliminate this pollution.

Often these costs are pushed to the future, onto the backs of future generations. It's up to us to break that cycle. Especially because we are that future generation. If many of the current climate predictions are accurate, the changes from global warming will start to manifest during our lifetimes. Education and advocacy are the key.

Some experts are warning that we have only one hundred months before the climate hits certain irreversible thresholds. Most of us are not climate scientists, but there is overwhelming consensus among them that industrial business as usual will push the atmosphere into conditions not experienced during the course of human civilization. Do we want to risk that? As far as I can see, one planet is not enough to experiment with.

Climate change is not a leap of faith, despite the uncertainty of detail in how it will play out. If we trust the undeniable regularity of the world around us, then we must accept the scientific conclusion that a high concentration of greenhouse gases will make our planet inhospitable to the best that human civilization has achieved, to the good life we all enjoy though it is not universally shared within our nations or across this planet.

Our finest trait as humans is as architects of the future, but it is also our biggest personal and social responsibility. History is a series of moments where a small group of strong-willed people becomes the decisive factor in choosing a future. There is a slow, green revolution already under way. I hope you'll join me in it.

Your two-wheeled friend,

Evan: www.climateride2008.kintera.org/evan

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