The ride is finished. The work of curing Alzheimer’s and other dementias continues, as does the perennial and global challenge of containing climate change. There were several climate breadcrumbs that went unwritten—so many issues everywhere, with so much intersection with other issues of social and economic justice.
The most glaring omission as we rode across the southeastern US was the evident impact of hurricanes, tropical storms and intense rainfall. And in that same region, the multiple injustices that remain to be addressed for communities of color.
To close out this series, here is a highly pertinent conclusion about regional climate action from Savannah Now, published in the city where we ended our ride.
“A challenge with regional climate action is that not all people experience climate impacts the same, and not all interventions provide uniform benefits. Rising heat waves exact a much heavier toll on the homeless than on people who never worry about how they’ll pay their electric bill. Sea-level rise presents a much more immediate threat to those living in low-lying coastal areas than to those on higher ground. And historically marginalized communities of color face many more barriers to relocating than those who have benefited from accumulating generational wealth and systemic privilege.”
We did it! The last day’s ride of about 85 miles took us from Metter GA to Tybee Island near Savannah, GA. And inevitably down to the beach there to celebrate.
We also shared experiences and the new memories that we have created. It feels so good to have completed the challenge, but also a bit sad to be suddenly at the end of a journey that has been totally absorbing to the exclusion of much else. And also poignant in that the “remember” part of the title recalls Valerie’s life.
Many, many thanks to all who have shared, supported, followed along, and also donated most generously.
Through rural Georgia…cotton, and other crops. Lots of trees.
Just one more day till we arrive at the Atlantic, Tybee Island, near Savannah, Georgia. It all seems quite a blur right now; 27 days, ride, eat, sleep; repeat… early!
One thing I am clear about is the support I have had along the way. In particular, a huge thank you to folks who have donated to the causes I am supporting. It is not too late to donate. There is an incentive in place to encourage you:
For each additional $5,000 that comes in for each organization I’m supporting, I will add another $1,000!
More broadly, coal provided the majority of Georgia’s power generation through the 2000s but declined as natural gas power increased. In recent years, coal’s share has dropped sharply as several aging coal-fired plants have been retired.
Utilities in the state are in the process of building two new nuclear reactors, the only new nuclear projects under construction in the country. That is a whole other debate.
About a tenth of Georgia’s power generation came from renewable sources last year, mostly biomass and hydroelectricity. But solar power is growing quickly in the state. Georgia doesn’t impose any statewide renewable energy requirements, but the city of Atlanta is developing a plan to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035.
Environmental racism is a big deal. Black communities frequently face environmental issues much more urgent for their own safety than climate change.
We passed quite close to Uniontown AL. Here are some excertps from an article by the Equal Justice Initiative.
“At the end of 2008, after coal ash spilled in a mostly white neighborhood in Tennessee, the Arrowhead Landfill located next to a historic Black cemetery in Uniontown [Alabama] began taking in roughly a hundred railcars a day of coal ash, laden with arsenic, lead, and radioactive elements, for the next two years.
The landfill sits only 100 feet from the front porches of some residents, who have experienced frequent foul odors, upset appetite, respiratory problems, headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting. …………..
Eighty-four percent of Uniontown’s 2300 residents are Black………….
In 2012, residents filed a civil rights complaint against Alabama’s Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) with the Environmental Protection Agency…………
In March 2018, after six years, EPA denied the complaint, citing “insufficient evidence.”
I wonder if this will be appealed and if it would be any different under the Biden administration.
Climate change can be seen as an elitist issue, for those with the luxury of living in unpolluted areas. What would you focus on: rising sea levels in the next few decades, or the pile of toxic waste dumped 100 feet from your front door?
Riding from Monticello, Arkansas to Indianola Mississippi and thence to Kosciusko (Oprah Winfrey’s birthplace). Crossed Ol’ Man River by the fairly new Greenville Bridge. About 150 miles of flat, flat flood plains, then a small hill, and normal terrain was restored.
The end is in sight! Just six days to go. Good time to recall the causes I am riding for.
Cure Alzheimer’s: in memory of my wife, Valerie. This organization focuses on budding research projects on dementia; every dollar given goes to research.
Climate Ride, because climate change has such global impact, is the channel for two organizations: Chesapeake Climate Action Network, a regional advocacy organization covering the geographical area around Washington DC, which puts into action the dictum “Think global, Act local”. And Solar Village Project, bringing cheap solar lighting to people in the least developed countries, often the most affected by climate change and poverty.
Into Mississippi state and across the Mississippi River. The river was docile the day we crossed. But it is not always so. The river floods. That is nature. But centuries of trying to contain nature, trying to control the flooding, to protect farmlands and homesteads, have resulted in immense levee systems. Yet still the river floods, massively and increasingly and frequently.
This is another result of interaction between climate change and other human-created environmental problems. Now at least some of those most affected, farmers with land in the flood plain, are supportive of a new strategy, along the way showing how solutions can be regional—national.
Upstream in Missouri and Tennessee, farmers are willing to give up their land so that the flood plain can be restored, by re-building breached levees way back from the current lines. More room for the flood waters to expand, less flooding down stream. But it needs money to compensate the farmers. Where will that come from?
I don’t know what I expected from Arkansas, but the pine forests were a surprise–hundreds of miles of them–and lakes (see yesterday). I guess it lives up to one of its nicknames “The Natural State.” Very pretty.
If I’d been able to keep up a daily trail of breadcrumbs while riding, they would probably have had a common theme: water. It it is notable that the issues that face Arkansas, despite its apparent greenness, are similar to those that affect the desert and semi-arid areas of the Western states: cycles of drought…