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Shifting gears on climate change

By James Daly '13
June 2, 2011

When Geoff Delperdang '12 pedals into the nation's capital on August 6, he will be relieved, celebratory, and a bit sore in the saddle.

That's because he will have arrived at the final stop on his 10-week Cycling for Climate Change tour, a 1,300 mile journey from Minneapolis to Washington, D.C., in which he will spend over half his time volunteering at environmental organizations in five cities — Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh.

Yet even all that won't mean his mission is complete once he reaches the capital. Along his journey, Delperdang wants to speak with as many people as possible and ask them to sign a petition calling for political action to combat climate change. Once in Washington, Delperdang's final task will be to deliver the petition to his representatives in Congress.

A math and physics major from Clear Lake, Iowa, Delperdang says he began thinking about what he could do to impact climate change last summer after reading Our Choice, Al Gore's book about the actions needed to halt global warming. "The book left me excited that personal action does make a difference, but frustrated because I didn't see how I fit into having a larger impact," he says. "I started wondering, 'How can my effect match my enthusiasm for the issue?"

The answer came to Delperdang after a friend mentioned the Rollerblading to Rebuild Haiti project that Chris Lomen '10 led last summer. Lomen's trip inspired Delperdang to set up his own cross-country journey for a cause.

Delperdang harbors no illusions that his project will motivate climate change legislation at the national level, but he hopes that in speaking with people in the cities and small towns he stops at along the way, he will inspire them to take action. "I think this project is important. There's urgency to it," he says. "This is the best time in my life to set aside an entire summer to do this."

In addition to his blog, you can follow Delperdang's journey on Facebook.

Contact Kari VanDerVeen at 507-786-3970 or