State of the Planet

News from the Columbia Climate School


Riding for Climate with Mom and Mr. Shark

Katy Mixter
Katy Mixter

Katy Mixter will ride with “Mr. Shark” on her handlebars, the result of a $75 donation from her boss.

Pamela Quinlan is joining the 300-mile Climate Ride to mark her 30th birthday.

Jennifer Hurford will ride beside her mother.

These three women are members of the Earth Institute’s 2013 Climate Ride team, and will join more than 200 bicyclers Saturday for a five-day trek from New York City to Washington, D.C., in an effort to raise awareness of climate change, and to support sustainability, active transportation and environmental causes. Riders pedal 60 to 70 miles a day and attend speaking events each evening along the route. The non-profit organization raised more than $400,000 last year.

The ride begins at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday at The Space at N 3rd Street in Brooklyn, and ends on Sept. 25 with a ride up Constitution Avenue to Capitol Hill in Washington.

The eight members of the institute team have raised nearly $23,000 toward their goal of $27,000. You can support the team by visiting the team page on the Climate Ride website.

Pamela Quinlan
Pamela Quinlan

Quinlan earned an MS in Sustainability Management from Columbia in 2012. She works for Consolidated Edison in their energy markets and policy group, focusing on wholesale federal electricity issues. She asked family to donate to the cause for her birthday. Donations are still coming in, she said, many from Earth Institute students and alumni.

“My mom always said that a person isn’t really an adult until the age of 30, which means that I have finally arrived!,” Quinlan wrote on the team’s website. “With this new Maureen Quinlan approved ‘status,’ I have thought back and reflected on my childhood. “I was so lucky to grow up on the beach in the summer, and on nature trails the rest of the year, my water was clean and available, and I had electricity whenever I needed it. It was something I took for granted—but after the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, we all know we can’t do that anymore. We need to protect our environment and plan for a sustainable future: That is what I am trying to do with this bike ride.”

Hurford echoed her sentiments: “It is very clear that there are a host of issues affecting the health of our planet and economy. Right now, it is more important than ever to work toward a sustainable and green future.”

Hilge and Jennifer Hurford
Hilge and Jennifer Hurford

Hurford, a vice president for trade sales at Citi, said she bicycles to work every day. Her mother, Hilge Hurford, has been riding around New York City for 40 years and is one of the original members of Transportation Alternatives, a transportation advocacy organization.

“We rode over the Alps last year,” the younger Hurford said. “She is 68 and in better shape than anyone I know.”

Mixter, a colleague of Hurford’s at Citi, is an assistant vice president of corporate sustainability who also sits on the Earth Institute’s Leadership Council. She’ll ride to support The Nature Conservancy and Transportation Alternatives as well. She said Earth Institute education programs are a great way for business people to learn how to incorporate sustainability into their workplace.

She said their motto for the Climate Ride is, “Taking it outside of the bank and onto the bike.”

Mixter is taking her sense of humor along for the ride. She offered to accept a few “dares” along with donations – that’s how “Mr. Shark,” a favorite stuffed animal belonging to the son of her boss, got on board. She’ll (reluctantly) wear a Yankees shirt from another donor and will hold up a “Love You Mom” sign at the New Jersey Turnpike for another.

For a $200 donation, she says on her Climate Ride web page, she will accept a dare of the donor’s choice, contingent on two rules:  1. “Pictures from the dare’s execution can’t get me fired or broken up with” and 2. “It must be ridiculously funny.”

Created in 2008, Climate Ride sponsored a bike ride last spring from San Francisco to Sacramento and is organizing a Climate Hike in Glacier National Park, scheduled for August 2014. For information, visit the non-profit organization’s site.

Banner featuring a collage of extreme heat images.

Recent record-breaking heat waves have affected communities across the world. The Extreme Heat Workshop will bring together researchers and practitioners to advance the state of knowledge, identify community needs, and develop a framework for evaluating risks with a focus on climate justice. Register by June 15

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