Monday, November 12, 2007

Fight global warming and obesity

First of all, let's extend a welcome to Bob Shantaeu of Monterey, California. He wrote article about sponsored research in bicycle traffic the other day. He's a professional traffic engineer who has also been heavily involved in bicyclist advocacy since the 70s in the San Francisco Bay Area. You'll see his name on the minutes of city council and county supervisor meetings all over the place as he gives his public comments on the importance of providing for bicyclists in road design.

This AP story notes that both obesity and global warming can be fought at the same time if everybody started walking or biking to work instead of driving.
One numbers-crunching scientist calculates that if all Americans between 10 and 74 walked just half an hour a day instead of driving, they would cut the annual U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, by 64 million tons.

About 6.5 billion gallons of gasoline would be saved. And Americans would also shed more than 3 billion pounds overall, according to these calculations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering public promotion of the "co-benefits" of fighting global warming and obesity-related illnesses through everyday exercise, like walking to school or work, said Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health.

"A simple intervention like walking to school is a climate change intervention, an obesity intervention, a diabetes intervention, a safety intervention," Frumkin told The Associated Press. "That's the sweet spot."
Important note: If you're in a good mood, stop reading now and click over to Frazz. Or, if he's your style, Bike Snob NYC. I'm also working on The Autosnob, which is something like a random mashup of BSNYC, Craigslist bike ads, and your computer. Just click the Reload button of your web browser for brand new Autosnob text. Like I wrote, I just started working on the Autosnob and more is the way!

I've thought a lot lately (and commented a little) on the ethical "dilemna" of climate change, in which the public health costs of global climate change are likely to be the greatest in those parts of the world that have contributed least to the problem. In other words, millions of third world babies will die in widespread famine over the next decade, and it's not really their fault.

In happier news, a recent poll shows 7 in 10 Californians believe global warming is "extremely" or "very" important to them personally, and 43% believe immediate action is necessary. Unfortunately, their words have yet to be translated into action -- there are as many cars on the road as ever, as far as I can tell.

While I'm in a bad mood, I might as well mention this induhvidual in Denver who lambasts the members of the Denver Bicycle Advisory Committee for their alleged ineffectiveness. You can read my further thoughts in the comments section of that blog, but I'll try to post more later. If you want change in your community, quit your gripin' and show up at the meetings!


cafiend said...

I adopted the bike as transportation in the 1970s because I grew up watching my parents get fat and listening to them bitch about it, while they did substantially nothing to reverse the problem. I figured out that if I put the bike between me and the paycheck in the morning and supper at night, I would have to ride. At the same time I would save vast amounts of money, be able to overeat a little (or a lot) without suddenly ballooning in size, and reduce traffic congestion and pollution. It seemed so sensible to me. My reward from the rest of American society has been a steady stream of threats and abuse from increasingly obese drivers in increasingly ridiculous trucks.

Even so, I would do it all again. It has been a good way to live and a good life to promote. I'm not a pure cyclist. I drive when I have to. But I recommend non-motorized recreation all the time and non-motorized transportation as the default, with a car used only under conditions requiring it. (Yes, there's fine print.) Just try your best to avoid motors. Life is incredibly better.

bother yam said...

kids can't walk to school any more -- it's not safe. traffic is bad or they'll get snatched up by predators or terrorists.

little jimmy or suzy have to wrapped up in a hummer and bundled off to school. it's the (new) american way.

i walked to school for years -- and i played string bass and cello. try walking 1/2 mile with either of those at age 11...

Thomas said...

I have been biking for the past 18 years, and have biked to San Francisco 18 times, to San Jose countless times, to Gilroy and Pacifica twice each, to Santa Cruz, San Leandro, Half Moon Bay, Sausalito, and Sunol once each, and to Fremont several times.

Fritz said...

Hi Thomas, I think I've visited your website before but I don't recall what it was. I admit I usually wimp out on my trips to SF and take the train :-)