Low Carbon Crossings- How a Single Action Can Make the Biggest Difference, by Delanie Donovan

It is often times the small actions that we do in our everyday lives that end up making the biggest difference. Ryan Hall, an avid biker and climate activist, visited Central College the week of October 17 to start conversations with students, faculty, staff, and community members about the importance of climate change awareness. He, along with a group of other active bikers, are in the midst of a cross country bike ride, called Low Carbon Crossing, to raise awareness of our carbon footprint.

Hall became involved in the climate conversation last year after doing work in Decorah, Iowa with the Americorps program, finding ways to use home energy efficiently to alleviate poverty. While working there, he met Mindy Ahler, the North Wind Regional Coordinator for Citizens’ Climate Lobby and Co-Director of Cool Planet. In an 11 week program, they plan to cycle cross country from Oregon to Washington D.C. This concept was created by avid cyclists who wanted to talk to biking communities about climate change and have important conversations about why people chose to bike as an alternative to driving. “We are making a link between the biking community and this is a great way to close the chasm,” Hill says.

This is the fourth year that Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL)  has done a biking trip, but the first year that it is a cross country trip. In previous years, the biking trips were more regional. This trip is approximately 4,000 miles, and they are right on track. CCL has 300 chapters across America and Canada, with a network consisting of volunteers and members all along their route working behind the scenes to ensure that this trip will actually happen.

This is the first college campus where they have stopped to give a presentation. “We want to reach the student population and tell them why we are passionate about climate change.” With election season drawing down quickly upon us, now more than ever people need to be paying attention to the issues and will be willing to rally around this common issue. A college campus is the perfect place to find eager young adults ready to make a change. Hall and the rest of CCL are pressing for a carbon fee and dividend policy to make its way into legislation, a policy they believe can be bipartisan and supported by liberals and conservatives alike. Contrary to popular belief, this is  not actually a tax on carbon but a market-based solution to climate change that would not grow the size of the government. Instead, the policy would implement a fee on carbon at the source, wherever carbon and fossil fuels are extracted from the ground and enter into the economy. The money collected would go back into all American households in the form of a monthly check. Canada will have implemented this same policy by 2018, and Hall hopes to see similar action taking place in 2017.

It is people like Hall who are taking activism to the next level. It is easy to sit at home and say you support a movement or cause, but it is something completely different to pack your bags and cycle cross country for eleven weeks. “I am taking action because I worry about our future. When I look at the severity of climate disaster and see that it is becoming more and more common, taking action for me is just a way to respond and hopefully inspire conversation and action from other people.” In order to make a difference, we need people like Hall who are out on the frontlines, collaborating and working with other organizations and educating the public about the issues. “We need to push our elected officials at every level to uphold our end of the bargain to take care of the environment,” Hall says. “We have to be the leaders of the world.”

Several weeks ago, Hall’s cycling route took them to Standing Rock in North Dakota, where many people are advocating to stop the proposed Bakken oil pipeline. “It’s important to highlight what’s happening here…the whole world is involved,” Hall explained. He spoke of the people who were so passionate about protecting the land and how it affected him. “We’re all a part of this. We all need to protect the earth.”

What might have started out as the small action of one person has now grown into an entire movement. Low Carbon Crossings, best of luck with the rest of your bike ride. Thank you for stepping outside of your comfort zone and being leaders in this movement.

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