Save Kids. Take 250,000 Cars Off US Roads: Wend Magazine Tells How

Wend Magazine's latest issue is out. As is expected from this fine publication, there is much to engage the grey matter and inspire the reader to ditch the sofa for a bike or board.

Sure, there are the usual exotic destinations that travel magazines that filled with, but somehow Wend finds stories that go beyond the What To Do pages of Lonely Planet. And writers who see the environmental and social aspects of faraway locales or journeys. This issue is no exception. We explore remote regions, whose very names conjure images of windswept adventure: Mongolia, Kashmir, Peru, and Antarctica.

To help readers get in the right mood, the Wendex gathers together scary statistics, which seem to equally reflect another world. For example, we're informed that 50% of US school kids are dropped off in the family car. But if just 20% of those kids living within two miles of school either biked or walked, the the US would avoid 43 million miles of driving. Or put another way, if the number of kids who walked/biked to school returned to 1969 levels, the USA would reduce its emissions equivalent to taking 250,000 cars of the road. It's well established that kids aren't exercising like they use to and that childhood obesity if a growing health care issue. But did you know that 20 billion extra pounds of carbon dioxide are released annually due to overweight and obese US citizens? (Wendex also explores the environmental impact of spam.)

Wend is not just about throwing up jaw dropping negative facts. They also balance out the bad with the good. Like their Platform pages where not-for-profit organisations are given voice. This issue the Adventure Cycling Association's new routes coordinator, Giny Sullivan, explains how the US bicycle routes system "will be the connective tissue that will bind together the regional, state and community cycling networks. It will connect the urban, suburban, and rural routes across state lines and and across the country."

The Greenery section notes that the USA bike industry managed 6 billion in sales 2008, though seemingly not to kids travelling to school. It then goes on to showcase lower impact cycling products , many of which have graced our own fair pixels here at TreeHugger (eg, soda pop fenders, Calfee bamboo bikes, Bamboo Studio, Pacific Outdoor panniers, Smith Evolve sunglasses, etc.)

An interview with author Bill McKibben is very timely, as his >350.org campaign has its key day coming up soon, on 24 October 2009, in the lead up to international climate change talks in Copenhagen. The goal of 350.org is to document "actions that are aimed at taking the 350 number and tattooing it into the hearts and minds of people."

As Bill puts it, "climate change isn't a future problem, it's a present threat." (because currently carbon dioxide is at 386 parts per million in the atmosphere., but the safe limit for humanity is back at 350 ppm, hence the campaign number.)

As an adjunct to Bill Mckibben's 350.org campaign, Wend runs a piece by Molly Loomis, who took a 350.org banner to the summit of Antarctic's highest peak, Mt Vinson, 4,897 metres(16,067 ft). Molly fully appreciates that "traveling from one end of the earth to the other to write about climate change presents and undeniable contradiction," as the CO2 she and her partner expended on the trip were equal to driving a Ford Fusion for two years.

But she believes that "if necessity is the mother of invention, then environmental advocacy is about educating people to understand the necessity." For as she adroitly observes, "ice can't adapt or migrate to higher elevations. All it can do is melt." And that presents a few problems with regard to Antarctica, which is home to 70% of the worlds freshwater reserves. As Molly writes, "should the entire ice sheet of western Antarctic melt, sea level would rise between 5 and 6 meters, while the eastern ice sheet holds approximately 10 times that amount."

Hence her support for 350.org. "Can any of us motivate others to care does it make a difference? Yes is that answer I want to believe."

Wend visits Kashmir's Gurez Valley, the "valley of unexplored treasure" as the first outsiders allowed in for the past 60 years.

And magazine also traipses about the very remote and very vacant back blocks of Mongolia (a land, "with giant bear hugs and bouts of joyful hollering in a guttural language that sounded like Klingon"), in search of a Total Solar Eclipse. But then TSEs aren't all that easy to find. There might be one every 18 months, but they only traverse across 1 % of the earths surface. In this instance, right over the herds of petite, yet powerful horses "whose ancestors carried Genghis Khan's conquering army across most of Asia and Eastern Europe in the 1200s."

To invoke another 1% statistic Wend finds a writer who takes three flights and hobbles 50 km to Peru's Choquequiao. This is "the Other Machu Picchu," where the Inca's fought the Spanish Conquistadors for 12 long years, and which received only 1% of the annual visitors that head to Machu Picchu. But Wend's writer was equally impressed by this site. "Anyone who takes the time and energy to build way the hell up a steep mountainside--forgoing the comforts of the valley bottom--must have had incredible faith and vision. I was both baffled and in awe." She gets some inkling of that faith when her local guide observes "I am rich because I have my culture. i don't have gold, or money, but I have my culture."

Not everyone is chasing TSEs or historical culture. Some surfers will even hunt down waves off beaches where black bears roam the shoreline, and the winters are so cold the beach sand and gravel "freeze into a rock hard conglomerate like asphalt." Nootka Island, in Canada, British Columbia is thus not the sort of place your local travel agent is likely to have a brochure on.

As we've noted before, even away from their excellent articles, Wend magazine takes on the good fight. Their Review section peeks into the pages of tomes like, The Big Thaw: Travels in the Melting North by Ed Struzik, and Waiting on a Train by James McCommons. The later, a train mystery book, asking the question: "what will happen to America's train system?"

The obligatory product shoot is all to do with clobber for cycling and cycle touring, whilst the adverts to are generally on message, like the one seen here where the anti-bottled water campaign Tappening.com suggest: "If bottled water companies can lie, we can too."

Only $5 USD gets you a digital subscription to Wend.

::Wend Magazine
Images: Wend
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Tags: Activism | Biking | Charities | United States