Meet Jon Brockopp, eighteenth in the 2018 series of rider profiles, and originator of the trip, in his SEVENTH year. Get to know the riders for the PA to DC rides as the series unfolds, then follow the trips! Learn more. Donate.
I ride each year to DC, because climate change is the most urgent problem facing human civilization, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.
Already, I see the beginnings of this change – the dying Hemlocks in our forests, the increasing number of tick and mosquito-born illnesses. We can stop this change, and we must.
I choose to reduce my carbon footprint and to work in community with others. A lot of attention is put on alternative energy, and that’s great: solar, wind, biomass are important sources for the future. But conservation has an immediate effect on climate change without spending a dime – in fact, it saves money.
I go to fewer conferences, I fly less, and I’m happier for it! My church has saved significantly by installing high efficiency boilers and insulating. There are many ways we can conserve energy, live more simply, and protect future generations from the worst consequences of our fossil fuel addiction.
I am also practicing what I teach: a new class at Penn State on the Ethics of Climate Change. My students really don’t want to talk about it. They see this as a political controversy, and so I show them the scientific and ethical sides.
First, there is no scientific debate on the basics of climate change. As Richard Alley says: it’s just physics. And most of it was proven in the nineteenth century. Carbon Dioxide traps heat – making for a greenhouse effect. More Carbon Dioxide traps more heat. Also, as the earth warms, the atmosphere holds more water vapor, another powerful greenhouse gas.
Second, the ethics are pretty simple, too. We wealthy societies made this mess, and others are suffering the consequences. A quarter of the world’s population uses no fossil fuel – it’s up to those of us who do to use much less.
Riding our bikes conserves energy, but it also gives us something in return: time outdoors to enjoy the beautiful PA countryside with our friends. There is time to talk (and sing!) on a bicycle, time to reflect.
But my favorite part of the bike trip is the chance to connect with people across the region. Whether it’s the rural community of Orbisonia or the rust-belt city of Hagerstown, MD, we cyclists have a real chance to bridge the political divides and learn about challenges facing others.
I am convinced that responding to climate change requires fundamentally conservative values: time for family, building up communities, preserving resources. This is something taught by all our religious traditions, and something we all can embrace.
Donate online to PA IPL in support the PA-to-DC riders (or send a check, memo: bike 2018 to PA IPL 243 S. Allen St. #337, State College, PA 16801)
to our 2018 SILVER sponsor Sun Directed,
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Read Jon’s past profiles