Critical Mass rides organizers in at least 28 cities in North America are holding rides tonight on the one-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
According to organizers, an estimated 2,500 riders will hit the streets to remind the public about the plight of Katrina survivors while fundraising for advocacy groups. The ride will draw attention to the links between fossil fuels, climate change, and destructive hurricanes.
The ride is a collaborative effort between the national climate change action group Rising Tide North America and "Critical Mass" cyclist groups. The demand of the ride is for "climate justice" – that society’s poor and vulnerable should not suffer the consequences of climate change disproportionately.
Although the subject matter is serious, the bike ride will be filled with fun and laughter as people ride in costumes and with signs of crayfish and alligators on bikes. "We aren't here to just remind people about the ongoing suffering in the Gulf Coast," said Anna Sloan, a Critical Mass rider in Chicago, "we are riding also to promote something positive: bikes as a sustainable alternative to oil."
Activists chose August 25th, the date Katrina reached hurricane strength, to draw attention to recent studies linking global warming to increased hurricane intensity. A recent study by Kevin Trenberth and Dennis Shea of the National Center of Atmospheric Research found that global warming accounted for half of the extra hurricane-fueling warmth in the waters of the tropical North Atlantic in 2005. Natural cycles were found to be only a minor factor.
"Katrina made the effects of climate change real," said Hornback. "We cannot ignore this problem anymore; we must take action now to address it or Katrina will be only the beginning."