Last Friday, in honor of the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina slamming into the U.S. coastline, an estimated 2,500 bicyclists took to the streets of 30 North American cities to raise awareness of the links between extreme weather and global warming. Activists from Critical Mass and Rising Tide North America organized the ride.
According to organizers, the purpose of the continent-wide event was to remind the public about the ongoing needs of Katrina survivors, while drawing attention to our unhealthy reliance on fossil fuels that most scientists agree are exacerbating global warming and the extreme weather that accompanies it. Besides raising awareness, participating riders also collected donations along their routes for a handful of advocacy groups helping hurricane victims resume normal lives.
A recent study cited by event organizers found that global warming accounted for as much as half of the extra warmth that fueled Hurricane Katrina on its treacherous path across Florida and into the Gulf of Mexico last summer. “The 2005 hurricane season made the effects of climate change real,” Rising Tide member and ride participant Emily Hornback told reporters. “We cannot ignore this problem anymore; we must take action now to address it or Katrina will just be the beginning," she added.
Rising Tide North America is part of an international network of activists that supports and encourages taking action against the causes of human-induced climate change. Meanwhile, Critical Mass is a loose network of bicyclists who advocate for cyclist rights and encourage bicycling for its array of social, environmental and health benefits. While Critical Mass sponsors rides on the last Friday of each month throughout the year, it hopes to work with Rising Tide North America to make last week’s landmark ride an annual occurrence.