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Furness eco-warrior in US 'carbon cycle' to research new book
AN ULVERSTON woman’s first foray into the world of writing has landed her the chance to scoop a prestigious global prize.
Dr Kate Rawles has been shortlisted for the Banff Mountain Festival book awards for her innovative tome, The Carbon Cycle: Crossing The Great Divide, in which she used an adventure bike ride to explore attitudes towards climate change.
Nominated in the Adventure Travel category, the work is Dr Rawles’s account of her 4,553 mile cycle in the Rocky Mountains from Texas to Alaska and is up against the likes of Walking the Old Ways by acclaimed author Robert MacFarlane.
Dr Rawles, who teaches environmental issues to outdoor education students at the University of Cumbria’s Ambleside campus, said: “I am absolutely over the moon that it has been shortlisted and very surprised.
“This festival is a Canadian version of the Kendal Mountain Film Festival and very highly regarded. To have a book shortlisted there is a great honour.”
Discussing the motivation for the book, she added: “The idea was to try to do a bike ride that would be adventurous enough to capture people’s imagination and to use that as a way of communicating about climate change – almost like the bike ride was a Trojan Horse to get the message across.”
Described by well-known environmentalist and author Jonathon Porritt as ‘a wonderfully rich and insightful narrative’, the book follows Mrs Rawles over high mountain passes, across glaciers and down to the sea.
On the way Mrs Rawles encountered bears, wolves, moose, cliff-swallows, aspens, and a lynx.
She also talked to Americans about climate change.
Mrs Rawles said she had agonised about whether or not to attend the festival: “I have a self-imposed rule about not flying more than once every three years and I haven’t flown since 2009. Nevertheless, flying to Canada for a short visit has a huge carbon cost and is definitely not ideal behaviour for a climate change campaigner and writer.
“I’ve decided that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed and also a chance to open out debate about this critical issue in Canada.”
Dr Rawles believes that with its ‘thriving arts community and a wealth of events’, Cumbria offers great opportunities for writers and she is already planning a follow-up.
“I want to write one focusing on questions of biodiversity, again using a bike ride to communicate that. I would like to follow the spine of the Andes up to Central America.
“These environmental issues are really important and there is an awful lot that we can be doing to improve the situation, so I am trying to raise awareness of that.
“There is a real danger of the environment slipping down the agenda and we just cannot let that happen.”
The Carbon Cycle: Crossing The Great Divide is published by Two Ravens Press. For more information visit www. outdoorphilosophy.co.uk