Day four at Camp Wilmot begins. Somewhere around 30 people from around the country have gathered to take on a big challenge together. We will spend nearly two weeks training here for the coming summer where we plan to ride around New England, spreading support for the climate movement.
Yet in the back of my mind, doubts about achieving our goal bubble up. In our current system, fossil fuels are so exceedingly prevalent. It is impossible to be a climate activist without being a hypocrite. We say to stop using fossil fuels, but many of the riders this summer got to Camp Wilmot by car. Before that many of us used buses or trains or planes. In all cases, carbon dioxide was emitted.
In my case, I usually try to minimize the carbon footprint of my travels. Of course, different modes of travel put out different amounts of carbon dioxide for the same
trip. So, my first choice was to get here by train and then pedals. Unfortunately, as I was planning my trip, the accident on the Connecticut Amtrak line occurred, injuring 60 people and ruining the route’s remaining rail line. Without knowing how long it might take to fix the tracks, I instead booked a plane ticket to Boston (where I planned to pick up my
After that, I would ride from Boston to central New Hampshire where the training is happening. The distance is 100 miles which isn’t too bad, but I plan on taking two days to make sure I don’t overdo it. But that means of course, that I spend another night at a hotel. So now, the energy (and emissions) I will save by biking, will be largely offset by the extra energy needed to force me through the air and put me up in a hotel where energy will be used to clean sheets, towels, and more. Are my net emissions still less than driving myself the entire way? Maybe, but I think the important part is that I am thinking about the climate issue and trying to do better.
Am I perfect? No. Is anyone in our movement? No.
But we are doing the best we can and we try to stay aware of the choices and effects of our actions as we train for this summer and later journey around the northeast.
So now the question becomes: will you join us?
The next time you need to travel, look at your options. Taking Amtrak might be a comfortable and enjoyable experience compared to a long drive with the family. Or maybe rediscovering your local state park will make for a better vacation than flying across the country and getting jet lagged and sunburned.