One New Orleanian is going the distance — 1,600 miles on a bicycle — to raise awareness of the need to restore the wetlands. Sixty-two-year-old Malik Rahim, director of the Meg Perry Center for Environmental Peace and Justice, started pedaling from Houma, La., to Washington, D.C., July 6, heading east along the Gulf Coast. He hopes to average 35 miles per day so he can make it to D.C. on Aug. 22, where he will meet with members of the Progressive Caucus and representatives assigned to the Gulf oil disaster and coastal restoration issues.
Rahim hopes his journey will result in an environmental summit in late 2010 or early 2011. — Sarah Eddington
"We are at a critical moment in human existence," Rahim says. "We lose about a football field size of land every 37 minutes, and this oil spill has only made matters worse."
During the trip, Rahim will visit universities, state capitals and community centers, particularly in cities hit hardest by the Gulf oil disaster, including Biloxi, Miss., Mobile, Ala., and Tallahassee, Fla. "I want to see what each state has lost, what each state's efforts are and how we can build a collaboration," Rahim says. "It's all about creating awareness.
"Imagine if everyone just took one day and said, 'I'm going to use the least amount of petroleum today than any other day by walking or biking to work. If I can do it at 62, so can everyone else."
The problem with the wetlands will continue long after his ride is completed and even after oil from the Gulf disaster is cleaned up, he says.
"Every year we lose as much wetlands as are being damaged by BP," Rahim says. "This way of life, unique to only our certain area of the nation, is at risk. Not because of BP, but because of apathy. We have to talk about saving the wetlands right now." — Sarah Eddington