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The cyclist pedalling the globe for climate change evidence

Devi Lockwood aims to map the effects of climate change for the world to see

A cyclist who has been travelling the world collecting stories about climate change is to travel to Washington DC to record more at the People’s Climate March today.

Devi Lockwood, 24, aims to collect 1,001 climate change stories for her project, which has been three years in the making.

She told the Guardian: “My journeys as a poet-activist-touring cyclist began three years ago at the People’s Climate March in New York. I wore a cardboard sign around my neck that said “tell me a story about water” on one side and “tell me a story about climate change” on the other, joining a rising tide of 400,000 activists.

“That day people told stories about all sorts of things: of the health impacts of paper mill pollution on a community in northern China; climate change’s threats to Vermont’s maple syrup industry; and the experience of being stuck in an office building for 62 hours during Hurricane Sandy.

“Since the 2014 People’s Climate March I have been traveling through 11 countries, mostly by bicycle (and sometimes by boat). To date I have recorded interviews with more than 600 storytellers in the US, Fiji, Tuvalu, New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Qatar, Morocco and the UK.”

So far she has recorded more than 600 interviews with people about climate and water.

She will map all the stories on a website, where users can click on a location and hear about the area.

People from around the world can also upload their own audio stories documenting water and climate change issues in their area.

Last year we reported how the common assumption underpinning that is that someone pedalling a bike must by definition produce lower emissions than any motor vehicle was challenged by a climate change researcher at Harvard University’s Keith Group.

Specifically, graduate student Daniel Thorpe singled out cyclists who follow the Paleo Diet, which have menu plans that are focused heavily on meat and animal protein, as contributing more to global warming than someone following a different diet who drives a fuel-efficient, low-emission vehicle.

Thorpe’s hypothesis instead uses a measure called carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) which enables scientists to provide a like-for-like measure of different kinds of gases based on their “Global Warming Potential” (GWP) and thereby gauge the environmental impact of complex scenarios, such as here where both mode of travel and type of diet are being compared.

As an example, 1 gram of methane, associated with livestock, is equivalent to 300 grams of carbon dioxide in terms of global warming potential, giving a reading of 300 gCO2e. Nitrous dioxide, also a factor in agriculture, has a value of 30 gCO2e. Thorpe writes:

“This doesn’t matter a lot for estimating the impact of cars, where 90+% of the emissions are CO2, but it does matter for the agriculture powering a bike ride, where there are substantial emissions of N2O and CH4, which have GWP’s around 30 and 300, meaning we usually count 1 gram of CH4 emissions as equivalent to ~30 grams of CO2 emissions.”


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