Metaphorically speaking, we are all on a “Climate Ride” which will be a long journey toward a prosperous and healthy future with a stable climate, but with some big challenges before we get there. Humans are profoundly changing the Earth’s climate, and it will be at least several decades before even the most robust energy and conservation efforts can reverse that course. In the meantime, however, every positive action we take helps to minimize the costs of climate change to the economy, to human wellbeing, and to the environment.
There is an organization called “Climate Ride” that sponsors several challenging bicycle journeys each year. Their mission is “to inspire and empower citizens to work toward a new energy future … use[ing] sport as a means to change lives and build an effective, citizen-based sustainability movement.” In 2014, I joined this group to ride from New York City to Washington DC (the photo shows I made it!) and in 2015 from Bar Harbor to Boston. This September, I’m joining them in a 3-day ride from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains to Washington DC.
I’m riding for two reasons: The first is straightforward and easy to explain -- I am raising money to support training of the next generation of environmental scientists at my institution, The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES). At a time of threatened funding for research and education in the Earth sciences, we must broaden our efforts to support our talented and committed graduate students, in whose hands will soon lie the challenges and opportunities of advancing science for the betterment of humanity.
The second reason is just as important, if less immediately tangible -- I’m weaving a personal narrative as a scientist and a citizen to express and demonstrate my deep commitment for a cause that I believe is central to the future wellbeing of our society and our planet. The Climate Ride is a good metaphor in many ways for the challenges of finding a sustainable, low-carbon energy future in time to avert ever more dangerous climate change, because our rides are long, require endurance and commitment, have ups and downs, we occasionally lose our way, and we’ll need to add more journeys after this one. As a citizen-scientist-rider, I have a story to tell about why my fellow scientists and I are so convinced by the evidence that humans are dangerously changing the climate and why we are committed to helping find good solutions. There has never been a more important time to make the extra effort to communicate science through stories and actions. Although there have been some stressfully disappointing steps backward by government recently, I am convinced that if we keep riding forward together, undeterred, we will make a difference.
Please consider joining me in this continuing journey. You can make a secure online donation today by clicking on the 'Support Me' button. You'll automatically receive an acknowledgment and I will be notified by email of your support.