I’m excited today because I am officially in the West. I have seen cactus, sage and the air is bone dry. Suddenly it feels like I’m making progress again.
The $50 hotel last night felt like the lap of luxury. The short day allowed me to rest, catch up on my laundry, stay cool, and sleep well. 4:00 AM seemed like a new normal today and my neighbors at the hotel were leaving as I was. Seems like the local trade specialists travel a lot – the guys next to me were boiler technicians and I suspect they were up to beat the heat just like I was. The quickie mart was crowded by the time I got there at 4:30, with the now familiar crew of ice-bucket-sized coke drinkers stocking up for the morning.
At first the breezes were blowing hard. Then as I pedeled in the dark, they subsided gradually until they were practically gone by dawn. It was cool and overcast which kept the sun from really being a factor until late. I caught a lot of lucky breaks this morning and Mariah smiled on me again. This time she turned around completely from yesterday and was blowing from due north. I couldn’t believe how much difference that made to the truck suck coming from the east-bound semis. With the breeze in the north, I couldn’t really feel them going by. Then, even better, she turned again to give me a push from behind that lasted, in varying degrees the rest of the day. Otherwise I couldn’t have made the progress that I did.
Can We Stop Burning Stuff Now?
I spent a lot of time this morning contemplating climate change and how important it is that we do something about it. (Some of my thoughts here are rated adults-only you if you’re reading to kids, you might skip on down to “On to Other Matters”) My sister-in-law Allison forwarded a link to a NYMag article that has caused quite a stir. It’s not for the faint of heart so be prepared before you click. It paints a scenario that is pretty bleak if we don’t take any significant action, which we really aren’t. As I’m riding through Kansas in 102ºF heat, it’s pretty easy to believe that extreme heat is getting more and more common, and today’s headline from the New York Times that an iceberg the size of Delaware broke off of a major Antarctic Ice shelf, didn’t calm my nerves. It seems that we’re seeing geological phenomon on a time scale of human lifetimes. I know that it’s not accurate to directly correlate local weather with climate change. But when you continue to see an aggregate of unusual phenomenon, record high temperatures, multiple “100 year floods” in a few years, higher storm surges with regularity, you begin to switch from concern to panic.
The article is clearly somewhat alarmist, but I think that’s appropriate. As it points out, the calm, deliberate culture of science works against it in this case. When has science ever had to scream and yell to be heard? What if a meteor the size of the moon were found to be headed directly on the path to earth? We’d all gather around the telescope, take a good look, and get down to the business of doing something about it. Right? Well science HAS done that, and it HAS seen the meteor, and it IS hurtling toward us and those of us in the US are squabbling about whether we caused the meteor or not. OR continuing to deny that that scientist’s telescope works.
I found it inspiring that Al Franken called Rick Perry to task on this very point. Perry was arguing that we really need to be sure and hey lets have an open discussion on the matter and review the results. Franken pointed out that’s exactly what we’ve already done and 100% of peer-reviewed scientists agreed on human-caused climate change. There were even converted skeptics in the course of review of the data.
So I don’t mean to go on a rant here – I’m likely preaching to the converted. But if I’m not, let’s talk because our children’s future is, quite literally, at stake and no one is really getting anything done about it.
As I rode today I was thinking about all the trucks going by, burning gas, bringing corn to feed cattle that we don’t need to eat and to sweeten drinks that we shouldn’t be drinking. I see people leaving their cars running in parking lots because it’s so hot they can’t stand to get in them if they don’t. We know that every minute that car runs, it makes the problem worse. You’ll need more AC tomorrow because of our actions today as long as we keep burning stuff to stay cool and to get where we’re going. We Know This. It is not uncertain and we need to be a lot more concerned abut it because it is going to take a lot of work to turn this ship.
So that’s exactly what I was contemplating – how the hell do we turn this ship? How do I personally, have the biggest impact that I can. Is it to focus on one small place and try and make it better? Or should I go help Al Franken try to get people’s attention? Do I go back and run my business or try to perfect the cost-effective solar-powered air conditioner? I really don’t know, but I’ve got about 30 more days or so to think about it before I get back and need to start making choices. And we all know that it’s those choices that get you to tomorrow, and determine whether you’re stuck in Kansas or on your way home.
On to Other Matters
I had planned to stay in Sheridan Lake but the black flies drove me out. I still felt fresh and it was only another 30 miles to Eads. I’m glad I kept going…
This is in the town of Chivington which should be renamed. Chivington was in command during the Big Sandy Creek Massacre when over 100 Cheyenne and Arapaho were killed by US troops in 1864.
I’d planned to camp out but a cloudburst hit and sent me running for cover. I was so busy typing this, I didn’t see it coming! Another cheap hotel. Tomorrow it’s supposed to be dry.
One of the nice things abou a blog is that you can leave loose ends.