Dave Howes is a retired firefighter who lives in Northern California, so the devastation caused by the fires in 2017 hit close to his heart. According to Scientific American, those fires burned over 170,000 acres, killed more than 20 people and destroyed thousands of buildings. In part, they were the result of the summer of 2017 being the hottest in more 100 years due to climate change.
From fighting fires to fighting their underlying causes
That fact doesn’t escape Dave. He has been working hard to reduce his impact and try to head off disasters like these for decades. When he retired, he committed himself to lowering his carbon footprint and chose to make his bike his primary mode of transit. Then he got involved with electric vehicles and he now splits his time between them and bikes. Since 2007 he has had five electric vehicles and has also managed to turn up for almost every Climate Ride in California since his first ride in 2011. Where Dave may be a bit quiet when talking about himself, his personal commitment to the cause speaks loudly. On his 2014 ride, he raised over $14,000, in part by signing up to be a Lyft driver with one of his electric cars and donating all of his proceeds.
Dave had already ridden in six Climate Rides in California and raised $59,500 for the Climate Ride cause before joining this year’s California North Coast ride. Now, he’ll be adding over $10,000 to that total. He’s one of only two people to make it into our lifetime $50k+ club and that’s in large part because he embraces the ride as an opportunity to raise awareness of climate change.
If you take a look at his donation page you can see that he uses each ride to reach out to everyone he can to talk about the environment and the climate crisis. He’s come to look at raising money for his beneficiaries as a way to give people an opportunity to do something about a problem that leaves many feeling overwhelmed. He’s given hundreds of people that chance and they have risen to the challenge to the tune of nearly $70,000. Much of that has gone to support the San Francisco Bike Coalition, which Dave has chosen as a beneficiary “because of the wonderful job they have done in San Francisco. The protected bike lanes have made a huge difference in being able to get around the city on a bicycle.”
Eating vegan for a healthy planet
Dave has also been eating vegan for 25 years. He started for his health and out of concern for animals in factory farms. But over the years, his primary reason for staying vegan has become reducing his impact on the environment. He feels veganism is the single highest impact choice an individual can make to protect the planet.
There’s a substantial amount of evidence to support that view. According to a 2016 paper from the National Academy of Sciences, “the food system is responsible for more than a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions.” As much as 80% of those emissions are associated with livestock production. The paper concluded that the greatest change an individual can make to reduce emissions from food production is to transition to a plant-based diet, especially in countries like the United States. If a massive infrastructure change were to be implemented in the food system globally, the authors projected we could reduce carbon emissions from food systems by 29-70% by 2050.
If you have a question about how to do more in your personal efforts to stem your impact on the planet, don’t hesitate to take a moment to pick Dave’s brain on the ride–the two things he loves most are riding his bike and talking about the environment. He believes that “everyone can make a difference if they just choose to do something.” Dave has made that choice in part for his three grandchildren, Taylor, Callie, and Caroline. He says “thinking about their future keeps me on track.”