Thursday, February 17, 2011

where is the sustainability in this?

Hazon, an organization that promotes sustainable, ethical food and environmental conservation in a Jewish context, hosts several bike ride events each year to raise funds and awareness around environmental causes. In addition to the rides in North America, the grandaddy of them all is a ride held each year in Israel.

Riding your bike to raise money and environmental awareness sounds like a great idea. However, upon further investigation I learned that the majority of the participants in the Hazon Israel ride are actually from the United States and Canada, meaning that they -- and presumably, their bikes, if they want to ride their own -- must travel halfway around the world to participate in the week-long ride. The notion of raising environmental awareness by participating in an event that leaves a massive carbon footprint leaves me scratching my head a bit.
I hope to contact someone at Hazon for a further explanation of this and will report what I learn.


lynnef said...

feeling contrary...
1) the plane is going to Israel whether or not they are on it, and,
2) so, we shouldn't travel anywhere, ever?

bikelovejones said...

I'm not saying "anywhere, ever"; but I am saying (perhaps not clearly enough, admittedly) that we ought to give the whole air travel thing a lot more thought than most of us do.

I don't see air travel as some kind of right. And if that viewpoint relegates it to the level of a privilege, I find it something of a Faustian bargain at best. It's just something I've struggled with a very long time.

Even when I've had to travel for business (a whopping two times in my career in the bike biz), I've done so very uneasily; what on earth am I doing, trying to get people out of cars more often but hopping on a airplane to go to some industry conference or trade show?

Part of my thinking involves the notion of decreasing air travel and at the same time emphasizing more localized travel. I think we may be past the point where it's environmentally appropriate to dream of seeing Europe, or Israel, or anywhere else so far away we can't get there sustainably.

I recognize this is not a popular viewpoint. But I still wrestle with it.

rickrise said...


1) The plane is going to Israel anyway because there is a demand for the service. If fewer people flew, fewer airline flights would be scheduled.

2) Travel all you want by wind or muscle power, or at worst low-emissions per pound/mile modes such as trains (preferably electric). Don't impose disaster on others to indulge your whims.

People are going to drive anyway, so let's build ten-lane roads everywhere through every city...oh, wait, we already did that in many places, and that's why they drive so much.

Ever heard of induced demand?

lynnef said...

with respect, rick, my bike has more miles on it than my car...