Road trip!

On Friday, May 26, 2023, Timothy Martin and Joanna Smith surrendered to authorities after they were indicted on conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States and injury to a National Gallery of Art exhibit.

The two, who belong to the climate activist group Declare Emergency, entered the gallery and threw red and black paint on the case of the Edgar Degas sculpture “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen.”

Timothy Martin of North Carolina, and Joanna Smith (Ellie Silverman/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Declare Emergency members block roads and provoke arrest to foreground their cause. They write:

Despite the many agreements, plans, and protocols our government announces, the planet continues to warm—and every additional day of continued emissions makes the climate crisis harder to fix.

The same day Mr. Martin and Ms. Smith were busted for defacing the case, Dr. Brian Brettschneider made a blog post containing this image.

Dr. Brettschneider is a climate scientist in Anchorage Alaska, with a PhD is in Environmental Geography focusing on Climatology. A regular contributor to Forbes magazine, Dr. Brettschneider does not deny that climate change is caused by human activity.

Here he has planned a trip one might drive on certain dates to maintain a temperature no more than 70° F (21° C).

In all my (many) years of making maps, the most popular by far is the 70°F Road Trip map that I originally produced in 2015. It’s been shared over 10 million times on various platforms if I had to guess. Maybe 20 million. That map was a hypothetical trip through the U.S. with the route tracking where the normal daily high temperature was approximately 70°F (21°C). I have been contacted numerous times over the years since from people who want to bike or drive the trip. It has resonated with people in a way I never imagined.

… It might surprise people that as fast as the globe is warming up due to human activity, the shift in 70°F temperatures between 1981-2010 and 1991-2020 is very slight. It’s just too short of a time period to capture the distance change. Instead, I decided to come up with new routes. The original route was interesting, but it left out a lot of options. This time around, there are multiple routes to choose from. Enjoy!

If you are reading this blog in the 21st century, I hope you find Dr. Brettschneider’s map counter-intuitive.

Admittedly, it’s possible there are people out there who would look at this and start pumping up their bike tires.  There is the the 4,253 mile TransAmerica Trail.   It begins on the East Coast at Yorktown, Virgina and cuts across America to the Pacific Ocean, ending on the Oregon Coast. But they won’t be riding on Interstate highways, which is understandably illegal for all but a handful of states. So they won’t be taking Dr. Brettschneider’s route.

According to this calculator, driving these distances in the average gas-burning car would add about two tonnes of CO2e to the atmosphere.

Dr. Brettschneider is chuffed that ten, maybe twenty million people have shared his map on social media. Perhaps next he could calculate how the popularity of the map increases the temperature along the route, where fires and floods don’t actually make it impossible to drive.

People like Mr. Martin and Ms. Smith are trying to ring an alarm loud enough for people like Dr. Brettschneider to hear.
Because every additional day of continued emissions makes the climate crisis harder to fix.


Clarence Boddicker

When my career as a corporate fixer got to be a pain in the neck, I changed gears. Now I enjoy cycling, cheering on the Detroit Tigers (I never miss a game!) and lending a hand wherever I can.