Working Toward Change, One Ride at a Time
By Britte Kirsch, Southwest Regional Coordinator
I love to ride my bike. I always have, from my early days in upstate New York, taking two-week-long camping bike treks with the Girl Scouts, to participating on NPCA’s team in a five-day Climate Ride from New York City to Washington, D.C., this September.
I’m not sure what happens to me when I’m on my bike, but it just feels right—so any chance I get to hop onto my bike saddle, I’ll do it. And my brother Stephen will tell you the same thing. When I asked him in April if he would ride with me, he jumped at the opportunity, and I’m happy to have him along for the ride as part of the NPCA team.
Twelve years ago, he and I did the Montreal to Portland, Maine, Palotta Teamworks 400-mile bike ride to benefit AIDS vaccine research. At the time, the concept of enduring multi-day events for a cause was revolutionary to us. It consisted of a couple of back to back “centuries,” or 100-mile day trips, enjoying the spectacular New England scenery with the best bunch of volunteers and riders. It also was about doing something to help in the battle of that generation—AIDS.
It was a blast, and Stephen was the best bicycling partner ever. My life was changed by the ride, and I knew my brother and I had to do a multi-day bike ride again. What better reason to ride than for this generation’s battle—climate change?
There are a lot of reasons to ride for climate change. The number one reason: It threatens some of the most treasured natural and historic features of our national parks and could cause the greatest irreversible damage that the park system has ever seen. For example:
- Within this century glaciers could disappear from Glacier National Park, and Joshua trees could disappear from Joshua Tree National Park.
- Coral reefs are dying in Biscayne and Virgin Islands National Parks due to increased heat and disease.
- Insect pests are thriving and are devastating forests from Great Smoky Mountains to Yellowstone.
- As temperatures rise, species are being driven out of the parks and some plants and animals may have nowhere to go.
- Rising sea levels and more powerful hurricanes threaten dozens of historical parks along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
- Wildfires and flash floods threaten ancient American Indian dwellings and artifacts in the Southwest.
- Another reason to ride? In the face of those dark possibilities, it’s empowering to work toward change.
You can be a part of the ride along with the rest of the NPCA team. Learn more about NPCA’s team on the Climate Ride website, and ride along with us on Facebook and Twitter next month to watch our journey unfold from NYC to DC.
I look forward to the opportunity to make a lasting statement about the climate issues of today and learn more about how we can change them for a better tomorrow.