Unicycle journey highlights need for action on Climate Change

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Joseph Boutillier rolled through Swift Current late last month as part of a unicycle trip from Victoria to Ottawa to highlight the need for the federal government to take action on Climate Change.

Slow but steady is the name of the game as a West Coast resident is in the midst of a unicycle ride to Parliament Hill in order to encourage the federal government to take action on Climate Change.

Joseph Boutillier is now over two months into a unicycle trip from the West Coast to Ottawa to highlight the need for the federal government to take action on Climate Change. Boutillier left Victoria on April 5 and he rolled through Swift Current late last month while slowly making his way east towards the nation's capital in time for the fall opening of Parliament.

"Support has been really good. I definitely feel like I'm not alone in my frustration around the inaction on climate issues," Boutillier said of his one-man, grassroots effort to raise awareness of environmental issues in Canada.

"It's just the urgency isn't reflected in our politics right now and there's some very simple things that for the most part our politicians can agree on but just haven't acted on partly because of, unfortunately I think, partizan rhetoric and bickering. Things like eliminating the $1.4 billion of subsidies that we give to fossil fuel companies every year, or just reaching our emission targets from Copenhagen which we're 30 per cent off target right now. It's not even a philosophical difference, its just we're not doing the work, we're not doing the ground work right now."

His website unityfortheclimate.ca lists full details of his environmental concerns, but he is primarily trying to sound the alarm bells on the climate before it is too late. He points to increasing extreme weather events like the flooding in Calgary, the Toronto Ice Storms, droughts, plus rising ocean levels as tangible evidence that the climate is having an unprecedented impact on the globe.

"The point that I'm trying to get across is just that if we look at the most recent reports from NASA and the ISCC, basically scientific organizations that have 97 per cent endorsement or consensus among scientists are telling us now that Climate Change is going to be a huge threat to societies, to our economy, not just our environment, in the next 100 years. The next decades. We're not talking about 400 or 500 years right now. In the next 50 years I think it's predicted it could cost the Canadian economy $43 billion every year."

While travelling across Alberta and Saskatchewan, he notes he understands that oil is an important part of the economy, and it will take a long time to transition away from fossil fuels. And while he is not saying to shut down the tar sands or stop drilling tomorrow, he does feel the sooner the federal government starts making this transition the more sustainable the economy will be.

"There's various view points on how we should go about facilitating that transition. But I think there's very much a consensus among Canadians that it's not where it should be, and Canada isn't contributing internationally like it needs to."

Unicycling is an eco-friendly way to travel, but Boutillier admits it is not the fastest or most comfortable mode of transportation.

"It's definitely more difficult than cycling. I'm happy if I can get six or seven hours in in a day because it's just painful after a while."

He averages approximately 40 kilometres per day, but one day steady head winds shortened his travel day to just 24 kilometres.

While the wind has impacted his travel, he was pleased to see wind energy is being harnessed on the prairies after passing the wind turbines around Gull Lake.

"It's neat to see that people are very much accepting Green and alternative energy sources. Diversification is happening, but without a concerted federal effort and a real national energy plan it's happening too slow."

Geographic location: West Coast, Canada, Parliament Hill Ottawa Victoria Swift Current Copenhagen Calgary Alberta Saskatchewan Gull Lake

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