Malkolm is cycling on! He is now cycling from Alaska to Washington DC, and then continuing on to the UN Climate Change conference in Cancun in December.
It all started with Bird Year, Malkolm and his parents' year-long, fossil-fuel-free journey in search of birds. Cycling a total of 13,133 miles (21,144 km), they identified 548 different bird species and raised more than $25,000 for bird conservation. Bird Year turned them into confirmed cyclists and taught them that climate change was more serious than they had thought.
In 2009, Malkolm biked from Whitehorse to Ottawa as a part of Pedal for the Planet: the project called for the Canadian Government to become a leader in the struggle to come to grips with climate change. The Harper Government did not even meet with the young cyclists.
Malkolm is now 18 and just finished high school. On August 24, he dipped his foot in the Pacific Ocean in Skagway, Alaska. Then headed up and over the White Pass to the Alaska Highway on his journey to Washington and on to Cancun.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Some people try the "100 Mile Diet", where they eat only locally grown food. I'm on a 120 kilometer diet, after cycling a long distance I can eat anything and everything I want. When you are constantly hungry everything is delicious. This is fortunate because under normal conditions, our menu would get repeditive very quickly. Our breakfasts and lunches are the same every day, oatmeal then wraps. Our suppers vary slightly more, we rotate between curry, pasta and burritos. These dishes should each have their own unique flavour, however due to our limited supply of ingredients and cooking supplies, they taste pretty much the same.
A few days ago I made something really different, borscht. Or the closest thing to borscht considering the circumstances. In case an upper class restaraunt would like to serve this borscht variation, I'll share my recipe:
* Two week old beets. We'd purchased them before Winnepeg. They'd been kept in the same scuzzy bag ever since, along with the disgusting end of an old cucumber.
* Two week old onion, same life story as beets.
* Celery
* Oriental snack mix with pumpkin seeds. I'd been carrying this since the Alaska Highway. They had been pulverized, then soaked during our week of rain. The snack mix had found a dark, mildewey spot at the bottom of a saddlebag, only to be discovered when I was on the hunt for ingredients.
* Thai seasonings, left over from a noodle package.
* Curry powder
* Coconut milk
* Olive oil, purchased before Edmonton.
I got hungry before I could wait for it to cook properly. Strangely, some may not have enjoyed it. Admittedly, it does resemble a compolation of ingredients that could be fished from a dumpster. But I loved it.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain, rain

"Summer" isn't the right word to describe this season. Winter and spring have come and gone in Ontario, yet summer is missing in action. It has rained on us for eight miserable days strait. If scientists can prove weather like this is linked to climate change, then a mass of Ontarians will probably join pedal for the planet.
But everything the rain brings isn't bad. Really, the rain has been a positive phenomenon. Due to the cold and the wet, the bugs aren't terrible. They're only really bad. None of us have to worry about getting skin cancer, or bad cycling tan lines. Nadia doesn't have to worry about keeping her phone dry anymore. It could be put under a waterfall without the risk of any further damage.
You see, cycling is a great way to spend a "summer"!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Showdown in Regina: Tar Sands vs Mother Earth

A throng of Greenpeace protesters lined the fence that kept the public away from Government House. Some lay like corpses on the sidewalk; their hands painted red, paper tombstones over their heads inscribed with "Dying for Climate Leadership" The Canadian premiers were behind the fence for the Council of the Federation meetings.
Numerous organizations had united to plan rallies and protests during the week of the meetings. Our goal was to make a huge racket and force climate change on to the agenda. We hoped that at least one premier would speak out against the tar sands and take the first step down the "green brick road".
For most of the week I would be a protester, but this time I had left behind my placard and my Kyoto Plus t-shirt. Instead Martina and I were disguised as reporters, hoping to get up close to the premiers. I was hoping to ask one of them a tough question, Martina was hoping to get a photo of one of them looking awkward.
We were soon being grilled by security guards. Our identities were scrutinized, phone calls were made and our bags were searched. We were supposedly with a university radio station, yet I had no recording software. I didn't even know where I was supposed to go. I was hoping that mycluelessness would be overlooked, or that we'd pass as dumb, harmless students. They finally gave us our acredditation passes and we were free to go.
A forest of reporters and photographers surrounded Manitoba premier Gary Doer. He answered a few questions then vanished through a door. Quebec's premier stepped up to speak. Soon Saskatchewan premier, Brad "climate criminal" Wall approached the mic.
I heard the protesters shouting from outside the compound. "When I say fight for you say justice. Fight for! Justice! Fight for! Justice!"
"When I say climate you say justice. Climate! Justice! Climate! Justice!"
"When I say Wall you say criminal. Wall! Criminal! Wall! Criminal!"
"Mr Wall, as you can hear, the protesters are demanding stronger action on climate change." called out one journalist. "What would you say to them?"
Premier Wall launched into a lengthy answer. I couldn't believe the nonsense he spouted. He assured us that Saskatchewan's leadership on combatting climate change is as good if not better than any other jurisdiction in the world.
How could he get away with such blatant hogwash? Saskatchewan's target for greenhouse gas emissions reduction for 2020 is 12% higher than than its 1990 levels. The scientists are telling us that we need to cut our emissions by 25-40% below 1990 levels. Brad Wall's head is stuck in the tar sands. He would love for the destructive industry to expand from Alberta into Saskatchewan. The tar sands already releases dozens and dozens of megatonnes of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, and leaks deadly toxins into water systems.
It is easy to get depressed by the tar sands, by Brad Wall and other short-sighted polititions, yet my week in Regina gave me great cause to hope. I met hundreds of activists and citizens who are part of a grassroots uprising. Our voices are being heard in across Canada; our political leaders will no longer be able to ignore us.
I remember a first nations activist, Clayton George Thomas Muller speaking at our rally. He told that during during the civil rights and womens' rights movements, and in every struggle in the history of humantiy there have been tough times. There have been times when bringing about change has been impossible, when the opponent has seemed overwhelmingly powerful. But Clayton reminded us that every time the hard work of grass roots foot soldiers has prevailed, and that change will come.
The fight against climate change will be no different.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rocking Prentice's Constituency Office

Jim Prentice’s photo smiled at us from above the entrance to his office. The environment minister wouldn’t have been smiling so broadly now, if he knew what pedal for the planet was up to. 20 banner waving activists cheered and chanted anti-Prentice messages.
The Canadian Government is consistently ranked at the bottom when it comes to climate action. Canada’s GHG emissions reduction target is only a 3 % reduction from 1990 levels, when many countries have promised to cut there emissions in the range of 25 – 40%. Last year Canada “won” the Colossal Fossil Award for embarrassing lack of action, and Canada is it’s best to defend the title.
Our press releases and pitch calls had succeeded in luring the media. The handful of reporters and camera people starred at the more eccentrically dressed of us with bemused expressions. Steve had become Windy the Unemployed Wind Turbine. Nadia and Martina were Climate Action Super Cyclists, with green tights and superman capes. Someone wore a Grim Reaper outfit; I wasn’t sure which politician he was impersonating.
“OK, now we’re going to rock the Constituency Office!” called Jeh. For Jeh, simple verbs such as enter or visit are too boring. When you’re with Jeh, you don’t go grocery shopping. You rock the grocery isles.
Our delegation rocked its’ way into Prentice’s office. Jeh rocked over to Prentice’s desk and placed a wad of papers on his desk. “OK, now we’re going to give you guys a chant!” announced Jeh, turning to one of Prentice’s aids.
“Sorry, but there are people taking calls from constituents. I’ll have to ask you to be quiet.”
“We understand, but we really want to give you this chant so…”
“Oooh, it’s hot in here, there’s too much carbon in the atmosphere!... When I say Jim you say where are you?... Jim!… Where are you?... Jim!... Where are you?...When I say Climate, you say action… Climate!…Action!... Climate!...Action!...
I guess that Jeh was right when he said we’d be rocking the constituency office.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 17 - Km 2019 (Wendy)

I have just rolled into Edmonton with Malkolm. My leg of Pedal for the Planet is over. I am proud to have made it. Tonight I will catch the bus back to Whitehorse.
I came along mainly to provide safety in numbers when passing bears along the Alaska Highway. No sensible bear will get between a mother cyclist and her son. All 16 bears we saw were sensible.
Having safely passed all the bears, I felt really bad the other night when we cycled into the thick of a lightning storm. The lightning got worse as we headed closer to it. Apparently being on rubber tires does not protect you from electrical shocks. The road we were on offered no shelter. I felt very vulnerable.
We stayed in a hotel that night. You could smell smoke. Yikes - the hotel's computer system had just been fried by the storm.
Pedalling the Alaska Highway is not all hardship. Not at all. Wild strawberries for breakfast, for example.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Nine days in...

This is the ninth day of my leg of Pedal for the Planet". My mom and I are in Fort Nelson, BC. We've cycled 979 kilometers so far. On an average day we spend 9 hours on the highway and 10 to 11 hours sleeping. The leftover hours are spent eating, or thinking about eating.
There are three notable events to describe.
1) Some friends of mine, Pete, Anne and John cycled with me on the first day. We stopped at a rest area, and John started up a conversation with some RVers. He told them about Pedal for the Planet. "Malkolm is cycling from Whitehorse to Ottawa to pressure the Canadian Government on climate change, ahead of the huge meeting in Copenhagen."
"So, you're biking across the country for climate change..." said on of the RVers. "What side are you on?"
Wow. How many people to long bike trips to raise support for Tar Sands deregulation?
2) I had a dream that we were cycling along, getting passed by RVs and Semi's. The trucks were loudly revving their engines as they passed us. I woke up and found out that the sound was not roaring engines, but my mom snoring.
3) We've passed 15 bears so far, 5 of which have been Grizzlies. Once, an RVer warned us about a Grizzly and two cubs ahead on the road. They told us that the bears were only "a mile and a half ahead"
We cycled for ages, wondering when we were going to pass the bears. After 10 nervous kilometers we figured that we must have missed them. After 13 kilometers we finally saw the bears. The moral of this story? Don't trust motorists to judge distances!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Continental Divide

Another message from Ken, Malkolm's father. I got a message last night that Malkolm and Wendy had made it as far as the "Continental Divide" last night. They had helpful (unusual) tail-winds which helped them travel 120 km - great going for fully loaded bikes on the Alaska Highway.

Small note - it seems odd, but they cycled south from the Pacific watershed into the Arctic watershed. The Yukon River flows north and west to the Bering Sea (Pacific), but now the water where they are now flows into the Liard, the Mackenzie and north to the Arctic Ocean.

I expect Wendy will be tired today . . . (Malkolm wanted to go further yesterday, but she put her foot down (off the pedals).

The photo is of Malkolm's friends who joined him for Day 1 ride to Teslin (John Streiker, Peter Heebink, and Ann Middler), with the respective distances they each cycled . . .

Monday, June 29, 2009

Pedaling for the Planet

Hi, I'm Malkolm Boothroyd and I just finished grade 11 in Whitehorse, Yukon. I'm very concerned about climate change and try to reduce my personal carbon footprint. I recently collected more than 400 signatures from concerned northern Youth on a petition asking the Canadian and Yukon Governments to do more about climate change. We presented the petition to the Yukon Minister of the Environment. I've been an avid birder since I was 7, and last year my parents and I cycled more than 20,000 kilometers during our "Bird Year." I identified 548 species and raised more than $25,000 for bird conservation. I also hope I helped to raise awareness about climate change.

I'm excited to be joining "Pedal for the Planet." I'm leaving on June 28th from Whitehorse, aiming to join others in Edmonton on July 16th . . . and then on to Ottawa to light a fire (or is that put out a fire?) under our government. We need to take climate change seriously!

Note from Ken (M's father) - Day 1, Malkolm made it 180 kilometers through the wind and rain to Teslin. His blogs will be sporadic until he gets off the Alaska Highway . . .