Local cyclist to ride 300 miles for climate change awareness

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Thu., May. 5, 2011
Dennis Desmarais, of Glastonbury, will join 124 other cyclists on the Climate Ride from New York to Washington, D.C., to promote climate change awareness. Photo by Steve Smith.
Dennis Desmarais, of Glastonbury, will join 124 other cyclists on the Climate Ride from New York to Washington, D.C., to promote climate change awareness. Photo by Steve Smith.

One Glastonbury resident is going a great distance to make a point about climate change, and he’ll learn even more along the way.

Dennis Desmarais will depart from Manhattan on his bicycle on May 13 for the Climate Ride. He will be joined by 124 other riders, each of whom has also raised more than $2,400 for one of nine charity organizations, including the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, Green America, and Transportation Alternatives, among others. They will arrive in Washington, D.C., after biking 300 miles over five days.

Each evening, the riders will hear speakers and take part in lectures and workshops on climate issues, renewable energy and cycling.

Desmarais, also a member of Glastonbury Bikeways, said he was attracted to the event because he enjoys cycling and being outdoors, but also because he wanted to do something to make a difference about his concerns about the environment.

“Not only is it a way for me to spread the word about the cause,” Desmarais said, “but it’s also a way for me to learn more about the latest science, the latest policy issues, and the latest ideas, and a way for me to help others learn more about it, as well. To do that on my bike is just the cherry on top of the ice cream. It was something I would have tried to find a way to support, regardless, but this seemed ideal for me.”

Desmarais said that all of the causes are worthy, but the one he’s riding for is 350.org, which references the 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That safety threshold, he said, has already been exceeded.

“Their charter is to get people to take action about that,” Desmarais said. “Right now, we’re at 380 or 390.  If we don’t get back to that 350 number, there are going to be changes to our environment that this civilization has never been exposed to before.”

Desmarais said he raised the monies through contacting friends, family and organizations through letters, e-mails, and social media, and was able to reach the goal, despite starting just two months ago.

He said he urges other citizens to get involved and stay informed.

“A lot of people right now are either unfamiliar with the science about global warming, or have been told by politically-motivated individuals that the science that’s out there is false or tainted.”

The way to best educate oneself, Desmarais advises, is to pay attention to where one gets information.

“I’m very interested in science,” he said. “I spend a lot of time online. There are a lot of great scientific blogs and journals. That’s your best source for the information.”

Desmarais will also be blogging about the journey, both during and after, on two blogs. One will cover the bicycling angle (trainerconfessions.typepad.com/blog) and the other will be about what he learns about the environmental issues (trainerconfessions.typepad.com/dennis_ds_quest).

For more information, visit www.climateride.org or www.350.org.


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