Climate Change and the Birth of the Bike

In April 1815, the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history took place when Mount Tambora on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa east of Bali poured something like 160 billion cubic meters of ash and debris into the atmosphere. The following year, on the other side of the world, the huge amounts of sulpher in the stratosphere led to the so-called “year without summer”, with temperatures so low that throughout large parts of central Europe the crops failed, and hunger was rampant. The cost of oats rose to the point where many people could no longer afford to keep their horses working their fields.

The German forester and inventor, Karl Freiherr Drais von Sauerbronn began experimenting with ways to get around his fields. The result was the so-called Draisine or Velocipede, an all-wood, two wheeled proto-bicycle, that was straddled and propelled by foot, resulting in a long, gliding stride… provided the path was relatively smooth.

Those parents among you will recognize the principle as the German invention for toddlers, the present-day LikeABike.

Back then, Drais von Sauerbronn was responding to a natural disaster causing widespread climate change. Today, as we all know, the climate change is man-made. It’s driven by the oil industry, by unchecked capitalism’s preference for profit over quality of life. And just as in its moment of birth, the bicycle is a good response to the effects of climate change.

By the way, if you Like the LikeABike, MEC sells a similar model.


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