Ruth Crystal: White Sulfur Springs to Townsend

photo by Ruth Crystal

photo by Ruth Crystal

After saying goodbye to the hot springs our muscles came to know and love, our group packed up and set forth on the 43-mile trek over to Townsend, Montana. The ride was beautiful! Even with the early wake up time of five in the morning, I believe I speak on behalf of everyone that the scenery in Montana never gets old.! At this point in the trip, 43 miles seems like nothing to our now-adjusted biking legs. The real killer at this point, is the heat. With temperatures in the 100’s, it became apparent rather quickly of the dangers of such intense heat. The morning ride, even though on paved asphalt, was made tolerable by the slight headwind, which was welcomed by our combination of sun soaked and sweat covered skin. The moment we arrived to the school and unmounted our bikes, was the moment we realized the sun was not our friend today.

While some went inside to chug water, others sought shade outside in hopes of catching the slightest breeze. As people began to doze off from the intense heat, a fellow classmate made the comment, “global warming, eh?” Funny at first, this simple remark made me stop and think about the future. This heat wave could soon be counted as the new normal, and there might not be any means to seek a safe body temperature. What then?

On this unavoidable mindset of climate change, our sleepy group gathered in the one patch of grassy shade to hold class discussion. It was here we switched over from the science behind climate change, to the drivers behind climate change and the obstacles we face in devising possible solutions. A question that kept being raised, was whether striving for alternative energy sources is truly worth the effort. According to Jevon’s paradox, opening the door to renewable resources results in an increased use of energy, rather than a decreased use of energy. Tied closely to this concept, is the “Prius effect,” which generalizes that the purchase of a gas friendly vehicle eases our conscience, yet results in choosing to drive over walking or biking.

Whether or not these theories on consumption are true or not, one thing that we all agreed on was the fact that something needs to be done. While we sit here contemplating the Jevon’s paradox and discussing energy development, there are communities across the globe that are already struggling with hotter temperatures, sea level rise, and producing sustainable development plans. Taking a moment to step back and understanding the struggles of communities and their environments in the face of climate change is very somber. This realization also opens the gates of opportunity. We do have the power to find a solution to our greed of energy, and we do make a difference in the world. If we don’t want to see 100 degree weather and clouds of coal dust as the new normal, then we need to band together and face this problem head on.

This entry was posted in Cycle the Rockies by lizveazey. Bookmark the permalink.

About lizveazey

Liz is a North Carolina native who first became involved in college organizing around clean energy.  She cofounded the Energy Action Coalition (EAC) in 2004 and was involved in the youth climate movement through 2008 including helping to start the international youth climate blog: and co-chairing of the EAC Steering Committee from 2006-2008.  She directed the Southern Energy Network, a founding member of EAC, from 2006-09. She has collaborated with a number of community, state, regional and national organizations on fighting new dirty energy facilities and promoting cleaner energy alternatives.  Through her work she became more interested in broader social justice issues, and her involvement with social justice in Knoxville connected her with the Highlander Research and Education Center, where she has been a board member since 2008 ( Currently, she is pursuing a masters degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon, but she hopes to soon return to the South. During the summer of 2013, she co-taught the Cycle the Rockies course with the Wild Rockies Field Institute (

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