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Why is Advocacy Day So Important?

A letter from a Florida Rider to her fellow Climate Riders on Blue Ridge to DC, September 24-26, 2017

Laura Reynolds lives near Miami, FL. She and her teammates just endured Hurricane Irma and are still on their way to ride with us this weekend. Laura will also lead our Advocacy Day training on September 25 at 5:30 pm. 

Dear Fellow Climate Riders,

Our team’s name “Riding the Storm” was never intended to be so tragically literal. It was the 25th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew and we thought it was a good pun for the way we feel about the Trump administration.  We literally have to ride out the storm of politics – however, as climate change makes for even warmer seas, the incidence and intensity of major storm events will only continue to rise. The devastation faced by Houston and the Florida Keys looms over us as a tragic reminder of what may become a new normal for our coastal cities.  Not to mention the record-breaking land area on fire in the West – these issues are all related to the warming of the planet.   At the same time, the highest levels of government remain shrouded in willful ignorance.  If ever there was a time for us to stand up and make our voices heard, it is now.

The world has come together to quickly and efficiently solve global atmospheric pollution crises in the past. When the role of Chlorofluorocarbons was first uncovered proponents of science-backed policy faced many of the same tired obstacles we face today. Powerful interests in the aerosol industry denied the science, attacked scientists, fueled anti-science, and portended economic ruination should we even attempt to solve the problem. In spite of all this, coalitions of scientists, lawyers, and activists just like us were able to push through, get sensible legislation enacted, and establish a system where polluters were held accountable for the external costs they imposed on the system as a whole, while alternative technologies were quickly developed and promoted. Science prevailed 30 years ago, so why must we struggle (and sometimes pedal) so hard to make our voices heard today?

The answer may lie in the way we analyze risk. The climate crisis is uniquely pernicious due to the fact that while the likely impacts to health, the economy, the environment, and national security are incredibly severe, they are also indefinite and occur over a long future timeframe.  There is no gaping hole in the ozone layer to point to, just a long list of bad news for our descendants. Thus, the risks of climate change are incorrectly seen as some nebulous future problem, not a pressing issue of the day. Thus, even with all the awareness in the world, major concerted action will seldom rise to the forefront of public consciousness as an immediate priority.  

These storms serve to counter that narrative.  In Houston and the Florida Keys, the risks posed by a warmer climate more prone to such catastrophic extremes are on full display. The direct costs of inaction can be seen quite clearly in the massive amount of funding that this very Congress must now send for disaster relief to the victims of these mega-storms. The human suffering is more than apparent in the many victims crowded into shelters across Texas and Florida. This is the moment that proaction becomes reaction, and for better or for worse our society is far more adept at the latter.  This is our Ozone hole, this is our opportunity to be heard, this is where the conversation changes. I urge you to stand with me and my team as we stand up and fight truth to power for our future.  Register for Climate Ride’s Advocacy Day now so that we can all stand together!  As of today, one-quarter of all of the riders have decided to take this next logical step.  If it does not come naturally to you to meet with lawmakers, don’t worry – I am here to help you and will be volunteering to run the Advocacy training event on the final evening of our ride! If you cannot make Advocacy Day because of prior commitments, I will encourage you to meet with your representatives in your home districts.

I look forward to meeting and getting to know all of you, you will see me on the side of the road walking up the hills likely as biking here in Florida is very different and I am in for a challenge for sure.  I imagine some of you feel like that about meeting your Congressional representatives, just remember they are just people and they work for you! 

Let’s hold our elected leaders to a higher standard and make them do what is best for the citizens of this country, not corporate lobbyists!

For the Environment,

Laura Reynolds, Fellow Climate Rider