The Bicycle Diaries: My 21,000 Mile Ride for the Climate
© 2014 David Kroodsma
The Bicycle Diaries combines travel and climate-change advocacy, both literally as a trip and throughout the book. As Kroodsma makes his way through Mexico, Central America, and the mountainous roads of South America, he talks to locals, from retired presidents to impoverished farmers, about the ways their landscape is changing and discusses with them the ways climate change will further alter their homes, health, and livelihood. The book is thus a tour of these regions by bike and a survey of the various ways climate will affect the future, as seemingly every place he visits is imperiled either by development or by climactic alteration.
Although Peruvian villagers aren’t exactly a primary source of problematic emissions, developing countries and their poor are the most at risk to future changes, and Kroodsma wanted to increase awareness on all fronts – communicating what he knew to people young and old as he cycled, learning from his discussions with people about their experiences. This a tale with great appeal, from the travel descriptions of varied landscapes (the beautiful Andes, salt flats the size of New Jersey, stupefyingly rich forests, to the candid interactions with people from the poor and marginalized to the wealthy and powerful. Kroodsma is continually amazed by the hospitality of strangers over the course of the year, and challenged by the fact that many people seem happy with their lives despite having so little. The spread of the internet into very remote places was also a pleasing surprise, as it meant more opportunities at less expense. The virtue of bicycles comes up quite often, as you might imagine — from their travel merits (making it easier for Kroodsma to interact with people), to their environmental impact, to their role in making cities more livable places.