62-year-old skateboarding from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas to mobilize people to fight climate change

Laughlin Artz, executive director of "2020 or Bust," stands on a road near the state Route 18 trail, St. George, Utah, Dec. 18, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — To draw attention to the issue of climate change, 62-year-old Laughlin Artz is skateboarding the 400 miles from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas to spread awareness for his “2020 or Bust” campaign to reduce carbon emissions.

Sporting a bright red 2020 or Bust shirt, padded clothing and a skateboard, Artz and his three companions left Salt Lake City Nov. 19 and are scheduled to arrive in Las Vegas by Christmas day. The group travels around 14 miles per day and made it to St. George on Tuesday, stopping for repairs and to plan the next leg of their trip.

Artz is skateboarding all 400 miles, while his companions Sheri Focke, Tom Carson and Mary Tessmann take turns joining him on the trail riding bikes or skateboards and driving a support van.

Artz decided to take up skateboarding again only two months ago. The journey has been rewarding, he said, but at times treacherous, facing snow, rough terrain, falls and close calls with traffic.

“I’m not a good skateboarder, so that’s the daily challenge. Every day is a little bit dicey which is why I’m quite padded,” Artz said.

Artz, who is from Brooklyn, New York, is the executive director of 2020 or Bust, an organization committed to reducing the world’s carbon emissions by 8 gigatons by the end of 2020.

Sheri Focke and Laughlin Artz, part of “2020 or Bust,” are traveling by skateboard and bike from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas, St. George, Utah, Dec. 18, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

Artz founded the organization three years ago after learning that government attempts to reduce carbon emissions won’t be enough to bridge the emission gap by 2030.

According to a United Nations Environment Programme report, even if the nations meet their emission reduction pledges made in the Paris Agreement, it is predicted that in 2020 the world will be producing CO2 emissions of eight to 12 gigatons more than the level required to keep global temperatures from rising above 2 degrees Celsius by the year 2030.

“It really is amazing to me that more people aren’t talking about this,” Focke said, “because it’s going to affect everybody. … I hate to say it but it’s kind of like a gloom and doom future if we don’t do something for the people that we care about.

“I want to live on this planet and I want them to have a future too, and I think that’s what this is all about.”

2020 or Bust wants to reduce the world’s carbon emissions, not by looking to government agencies or businesses, but by encouraging individuals to reduce their personal carbon footprint.

Artz, along with his six-person advisory board of environmentalists, including Juan Elias Chebly from the United Nations Environment Programme, have calculated that if 500 million people were to take simple carbon reducing steps in their lives over the next two years, the world could reduce global emissions by 8 gigatons and bridge the climate change gap.

“The next two years is really our shot,” Artz said. “And we just want people to wake up to the fact that it’s not the government that’s going to do it, it’s not the UN that’s going to do it, it’s not the Paris Agreement that’s going to do it. All those things are great, but there’s a huge gap in terms of the work that those people are doing and what it’s going to take, and that gap can be filled by individuals. That’s what we want to wake people up to, that they’ve got that kind of power.”

Laughlin Artz, executive director of “2020 or Bust,” stands on a road near the state Route 18 trail, St. George, Utah, Dec. 18, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

Artz chose to make the skateboarding trip in order to increase awareness and raise money for a two-year blitz to mobilize the 500 million people needed to reach their goals starting Jan. 1.

People can join Artz’s efforts by downloading the 2020 or Bust mobile app and logging their location and the steps they will take to reduce emissions. They can then watch the progress and how their individual efforts have made a difference.

“Our mission really is to make the end of climate change simple and accessible to everyone,” Artz said.

They also hope to raise $100,000 from this trip through people pledging a certain amount of money per mile skated to go toward supporting their mobilization, training and planning volunteers around the world, an upgrade to their mobile app and an aggressive global marketing campaign.

“We just want to wake them up. When somebody wakes up to ‘Wow, I’ve got the power to do something,’ they just naturally want to get into action,” Artz said.

Artz has plans to take future cross-country skateboard trips, but is still deciding on when and where. The best part about the trip has been being able to share about the impact that one person can make, he said.

“It’s just great to have that opportunity to be with people when they kind of get their power about it and realize they don’t have to leave it to the government, or the billionaires or the scientists,” Artz said. “It’s like people really get a sense of ‘This is my world, this whole thing is mine.'”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter:  @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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  • Kilroywashere December 19, 2018 at 8:21 pm

    Is it manmade carbon or is it the Sun? The Chilling Stars, A New Theory of Climate Change. 2007. On the other side of the coin, does reducing manmade global Carbon emissions help anyway at this point. See Dr. Guy McPherson. Nature Bats Lasts – Many You Tube Videos – Professor Emeritus U. of Az. (wait until after the holidays, pretty grim) Let’s not dispute there is global warming. Let’s not dispute man made carbon emissions have been rising dramatically. However looking at the data – let’s not dispute the correlation of solar activity as well, which rather elegantly fits the data picture almost perfectly. Global warming has turned into a religious belief system and the politicization of Science started with Margeret Thatcher and the mining strikes in the UK back in the 80s. Sadly there is one answer at this point, and that is invest in technological research to counter what is inevitable, as well as prepare infrastructure. Carbon credits do not stop the destruction of rain forest and deforestation due to various reasons from illegal gold mining (see Peru) to industrial agriculture and ranching in other parts of S.America, and sadly to say, nothing is cutting back on new coal plants in India and China as well. When forrests in Ca burn up, volcanoes around the globe explode, that creates carbon too. The cause of the increase of fires in CA correlates to population growth, more than any other factor. Yes we need awareness, but we also need to be open minded to reach the best solution. PS. Dont forget the current Solar mininum we are in right now.

  • Jacqwayne December 20, 2018 at 11:47 am

    Very well put. If every person on this planet worked to reduce their carbon footprint it would help but the Sun and volcanoes produce the most carbon and there isn’t much we can do about that. What concerns me is that Obama wanted to force those people in the U.S. to reduce their production of carbon by increasing the cost of using fossil fuel. My electrical power is generated by the burning of coal and there isn’t many other options. My energy bill would quadruple and the production of carbon wouldn’t change. Also, people in other parts of the world wouldn’t participate so nothing would get accomplished except for my pocketbook.

  • Happy Commenter December 20, 2018 at 10:00 pm

    Skateboarding to perpetuate the big left wing hoax..Does this dude realize how much carbon was produced in the manufacture of his equipment? Probably didn’t even give it a thought..

  • Janis December 22, 2018 at 11:32 am

    Hi this is Janis from 2020 or Bust. Just wanted to chime in to address the comments here. First, thanks for the interest. We are not out to convince anyone of anything here — our mission is simple: inspire action. More specifically, inspire the action of 500 million people. We are also not political. We are working with some of the world’s leading experts in climate change and carbon life cycles. Great point about manufacturing. Yes, any kind of manufacturing has an environmental impact. That said, skateboarding is a very low carbon form of transportation, even when you include the whole carbon life cycle. Our focus in on the kinds of actions people can take to reduce their carbon emissions and participate in ending the climate crisis from the standpoint of personal responsibility. Our focus is not to blame anyone or any group, nor is it to promote any form of dogma. Only action will make the difference — not opinion. Yes, individuals can actually produce a significant reduction. Our calculations show that between the actions of individuals making personal choices and individuals causing small business actions, 500 million people can reduce emissions by 8 gigatons in a domain of action not accounted for in any other initiative.

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