Guest Blogger, Anita Payne, reflects on her part in the Great March for Climate Action:
In Los Angeles, CA on March 1 of this year, several hundred students and climate activists rallied to send off a few dozen climate marchers on an 8 month 3000 mile trek across the continent. On Saturday, November 1, the Great March for Climate Action reached our final destination, Lafayette Park in front of the White House, Washington, DC. The purpose of the march was to “change the hearts and minds of the American people and their leaders to take action now on the climate crisis”.
My personal goal was to march the first 500 miles and the last 500 miles. I was on the march from LA to Phoenix and then rejoined in Chicago to march the rest of the way to DC. My marching included some cycling and some driving of the break truck that pulled our composting port-a-potties or the “sag wagon” car that picked up tired or injured walkers. On the last week of the march I achieved my goal of walking every step of the way from Greencastle, PA to the White House. The hardest day was a 22 mile march. At lunch fellow marcher Dr. Bruce fixed up my toes with moleskin and tape to relieve the pressure on my blisters. Those toes were fine after that but another ended up smarting with each step. It was dark by the time I reached Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, MD but there were people to greet me and believe it or not, I wasn’t the last marcher in! That day gave me an even deeper appreciation for what our four spirit marchers have done, walking every step of the way from Los Angeles to Washington. At 71, Miriam Kashia is the oldest of the spirit marchers and the only woman. She amazes me!
Events in Washington, DC
At the rally near the White House we read some of the messages entrusted to us by people we met along the way. We fulfilled our promise to deliver them to President Obama. At the evening event we remembered stories from each state we traversed: the extreme drought in California, the water wars in Arizona, the fight against the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska, and the families affected by fracking in Ohio and Pennsylvania. It was a very poignant evening, topped off by a lot of good-bye hugs and some tears.
For some voices and perspectives from the Great March click HERE.
Although I had planned to participate in lobbying sessions, I had the chance of a ride home on Sunday, so I took it. A group of marchers met with staff of the Senate Energy Committee and some met with staff of their own representatives. The election on Tuesday precluded any meetings with Representatives and Senators. Unfortunately the outcome of the election, with the Republicans controlling both Congress and the Senate makes it seem unlikely that a price on carbon will be enacted any time soon. However Citizens’ Climate Lobby is working behind the scenes to have some Republicans introduce a bill for a revenue-neutral carbon fee and dividend. It makes sense to sell it on its economic merits. Let’s hope it comes soon!
Post March Actions
Many of the marchers joined the Beyond Extreme Energy Coalition which held actions every day this week to stop business as usual at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC essentially rubberstamps every energy project application. Many of the protestors were arrested (not something that I was willing to do).
Marchers will soon be leaving DC to return to their homes across the country. Some will continue fighting fossil fuel projects near their homes. The end of the Great March for Climate Action is the beginning of the next phase of actions for most of us marchers.
My Next Steps
On November 20, I will give a Climate Reality presentation in Almonte for the Mississippi Valley Field Naturalists. Then I go to Ottawa for the Canadian Citizens’ Climate Lobby conference. If you are in the area, I highly recommend attending at least the Sunday sessions for a cost of just $10. For more information see http://citizensclimatelobby.ca/
As the new CEO of the Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston Green Party of Canada Association I will be searching for a credible Green candidate for next year’s federal election. I will also continue my involvement with Fair Vote Canada to advocate for some form of proportional representation (PR). To learn more about PR you can attend the “Will Your Vote Count?” event on November 25. http://every-vote.ca/
How You Can Help
I urge you to stay informed about the climate crisis and learn how you can do more to solve it. http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/urgent-ipcc-climate-change-warning-demands-action-bob-mcdonald-1.2827352
Do all you can to reduce your personal carbon footprint and urge your leaders to take action. Consider joining Citizens’ Climate Lobby. It is very empowering to meet with MPs.
Encourage your organizations to invite a Climate Reality Leader to give a talk. You can request one here: http://www.climatereality.ca/ourpresentations.aspx Also let teachers know that they can request presenters.
It has been an honour to wear the photos of the children and grandchildren of my sponsors as I marched. It is for everyone, but especially all young people that I marched. I am very afraid of the future that awaits them if we do not take the climate bull by the horns and tame it. Thanks for your support!