Long-haul bicyclists out to save energy

Toledo-area residents may not notice much change in their daily lives due to global warming.

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Published May 22, 2007 by The Toledo Blade
By Julie McKinnon 

Toledo-area residents may not notice much change in their daily lives due to global warming.

But as global warming causes glaciers to melt in Peru, for example, families who grow their own food will have inadequate water supplies for farming.

And droughts, storms, and rising sea levels will affect other areas of the world, two global warming experts say.

So it's up to Americans like fifth and sixth graders at Maumee Valley Country Day School to make changes that will cut energy consumption and improve the environment, such as using bikes instead of vehicles for transportation when possible, they were told yesterday.

"You may think you're young, but this problem is your lifetimes," David Kroodsma told about 65 students at the private Toledo school before they all took off on a bike ride to Swan Creek Metropark.

Mr. Kroodsma and Bill Bradlee were in Toledo as part of their planned four-month, 5,000-mile cross-country bicycle tour, during which the duo are talking to students and adults alike about global warming.

They started their Ride for Climate USA trip April 21 at Boston's Old North Church, where Paul Revere began his historic Revolutionary War ride on horseback, and are heading to San Francisco.

Burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming by producing carbon dioxide, of which there is a third more than at the start of the industrial revolution 200 years ago, Mr. Kroodsma told the students.

"The more gasoline, the more coal we use, the more carbon dioxide," he said.

Americans could cut their carbon dioxide output by more than half and still live as comfortably as those in Japan and Germany, Mr. Bradlee said.

Supporting clean energy, including wind and solar power for homes and ethanol use in vehicles, will help, he added.

Students can conserve energy by unplugging electronics when not in use, turning off unnecessary lights, and urging their parents to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, Mr. Bradlee said.

Sixth grader Corey Tipton said his family recently installed compact fluorescent light bulbs in place of traditional light bulbs because they use less electricity, another of Mr. Bradlee's energy-saving suggestions.

"We're just trying to do our part," Corey said.

Sixth grader Kenton Sautter, who asked the global warming experts a range of questions, said after the talk he is most concerned about the "miniscule effort" the U.S. government is putting into addressing global warming.

Mr. Kroodsma also recently talked about global warming during a 17-month, 16,000-mile bicycle ride from California to South America's southern tip. He shared experiences from that solo trip with the students. "We do all this not only because we like to bicycle, but because we want people to learn more about global warming and what people can do about this problem," Mr. Kroodsma told them.

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:
jmckinnon@theblade.com
or 419-724-6087.