By Maria Contreras Tebbutt
Two months ago, 195 nations reached a landmark accord that will commit nearly every country in the world to lowering their planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions to help stave off the most drastic effects of climate change. This deal has been hailed as a real game changer and will make a significant difference in global warming.
The accord requires action in some form from every country, rich or poor.
At the Paris conference there were people from Davis contributing to getting this deal passed. I feel good that many people I know were there from the U.S. putting on the good fight to make this deal happen. Now it is time to do the work. Much of the work will involve governments, energy policies and financial markets. But what can we as individuals here in Davis do?
I suggest that we take a look at the work of Lewis Fulton, a transportation researcher at UC Davis. Fulton says that ” . . .we also need to make changes (in our personal lives). Cycling plays a huge part in that.” A change in our personal lives is not easy to do, because we are creatures of habit. Have an errand downtown, or need a half gallon of milk? Of course – you’re going to jump in your car, burn oil and move 3000 pounds to get there, even though it’s only about a mile away . . .
Did the thought of walking or riding a bike downtown or to the grocery store enter your mind? Probably not.
Why make the change? According to Fulton, “by increasing the number of urban bike trips from 1% to 20-30%, researchers believe carbon emissions from urban passenger transport could be reduced nearly 11 percent by 2050 and save more than $24 trillion in various costs.” Half of all trips in metropolitan areas are three miles or less – 28% of these are one mile or less – distances easily covered by foot or bicycle.
This is something we can do in Davis now. Let’s change our thought process from short car trip to bike/walk trip. If you are talking the talk about global warming, you can make a big difference by walking the walk and putting your foot to the bike pedal.