Bicycle dreams

For humanity's sake, we need to become dramatic, fantastic, heroic

“When I see an adult on a bicycle, I do not despair for the future of the human race.” —H.G. Wells

One of the best things to become established in America in my lifetime is the popularity of bicycles and bicycling.

When I moved to Sacramento in 1980, my main means of transportation was a bicycle, and so few people rode bicycles in those days that I was soon known in Midtown and downtown as “The Guy Who Rides a Bike.” Seriously. I’m not kidding. I walked all over town, too, and dozens of times I was greeted by complete strangers with, “Hey, where’s your bike?” or “Hey, it’s the bike guy.”

Speaking of bicycles, things—as in the projected changes in the Earth’s climate based on actual measurable data—are not looking good for the survival of humanity beyond another couple of generations unless we dramatically, fantastically and heroically shrink our carbon footprints to almost nothing—and soon.

“Oh, dear,” we Americans collectively respond to the irrefutable information about what’s happening on Earth at this very moment. “But how can we reduce our carbon footprints even a little if the powers that be won’t provide us with groovalicious mass transit and spacious, sturdy solar and electric cars made from recycled plastic and inexpensive renewable energy and stuff like that? How can we change the way we live if someone else doesn’t provide convenient and excellent alternatives to the way we’re living now?”

The answer is that we, you and I, are extremely intelligent and resourceful people, and there is no doubt whatsoever that we can figure out myriad ways to dramatically, fantastically and heroically shrink our individual and collective carbon footprints to a perfectly reasonable level if we set our minds and hearts to the task. Not only that, but we are so resourceful and creative that we can dramatically reduce our carbon footprints and have fun at the same time. To get your imaginative juices flowing in that direction, think about walking or bicycling; installing better insulation; using solar or wind power; using candlelight or being content in darkness; attending potluck dinners; ride sharing; buying local; wearing thermal underwear; driving less; planting vegetable gardens.

And think about what Thomas Hedges just reported for the news website Truthdig:

“Since 2000, Germany has converted 25 percent of its power grid to renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass. … From 80 percent to 100 percent of Germany’s electricity will come from renewable sources by 2050.

“Germans are baffled that the United States has not taken the same path. Not only is the U.S. the wealthiest nation in the world, but it’s also credited with jump-starting Germany’s green movement 40 years ago.”

Indeed, the only thing stopping Americans from inventing and implementing wonderful, new low-carbon lives is our unwillingness to believe that such changes are truly necessary.