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Leon Kaye headshot

Can a Fitness App Help Move the Needle on Climate Change?

By Leon Kaye
climate change

There’s no shortage of data and surveys suggesting that consumers are increasingly aware of climate change risks and expect both governments and the private sector to do something about it.

Both the raising of awareness and convincing citizens to take action, however, are proving to be difficult. Fears over the Delta variant, along with concerns that the economy that could tank (demolishing jobs) or soar (pricing more people out of everything from housing to food) are among the distractions that make any focus on climate change veer sideways. Then there are the daily distractions many families face now, such as getting the children ready for back-to-school – or, of course, whether that household item you need will ever be available thanks to what appears to be a shortage of just about everything. And, the days fly by fast as we deal with the daily work, home and school routines.

But what if one could send a message about climate change by going out for a run, taking a bike ride or having that evening walk?

The fitness app Strava, along with the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), believe they have an answer.

From August 16 to 31, Strava and UNOCHA want those who are able and willing to get out there, burn some calories, and focus on how climate change risks will wreak the most havoc on those who day-to-day manage to get by with the fewest resources at hand.

Seriously, it won't take long to score those 100 minutes on the Strava app
Seriously, it won't take long to score those 100 minutes and send a message about climate change on the Strava app

#TheHumanRace campaign is urging Strava users to ensure they exercise at least 100 minutes during the second half of August. The tasks are fairly simple – though unlike that phone app or wearable device that counts your steps or monitors your heart rate, you do need to open the Strava app, choose an exercise, click the timer to “on,” and make sure those minutes are logged.

According to Strava and UNOCHA, whether or not Strava users complete 100 minutes of activity, each sign-up for this campaign will help push forward one key message to global leaders at the upcoming UN climate summit, COP26, in November: Citizens and leaders of wealthier nations need to deliver on their 2009 pledge to follow up with an annual $100 billion for climate mitigation and adaptation in developing countries.

Strava and UNOCHA are teaming up with athletes worldwide to get this message out. “I am excited to run for the most important goal in our lifetime: to save our planet and the people living on it” said Fernanda Maciel, a Brazilian ultramarathon athlete and environmental lawyer in emailed statement. “We run every day, for ourselves. Why not run for something bigger? Everybody should join this campaign because we need compassion. It is time to run together."

Or, depending on where you may live, that could involve canoeing, rowing, surfing, rock climbing, swimming or again, walking – with or without your dog (as shown above). 

Image credit: Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye headshot

Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.

Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.

Read more stories by Leon Kaye