Taking steps to combat climate change

The Gazette Opinion Staff
Published: December 22 2013 | 12:01 am - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 1:09 am in

By Miriam Kashia

Why would anyone spend eight months walking 3,000 miles across this vast country enduring storms, heat, sore feet and who knows what else? Here’s why, my “Top Ten” list:

10) Heating of our atmosphere is on a fatal trajectory; climate chaos is producing devastating superstorms worldwide.

9) Oceans are absorbing heat and slowing the atmospheric rise in temperature, but they are becoming acidic and unsustainable for marine life.

8) Polar ice is melting and oceans are rising. Island nations and coastal cities will disappear under water. Glaciers, the only water source for millions, are disappearing rapidly.

7) Terrible flooding and increased droughts and fires are devastating large areas and threatening our food supply.

6) The planet is populated by more than 7 billion people — more than it can sustain — and will reach 10 billion by midcentury.

5) 100 species are becoming extinct per day. Humanity eventually could show up on that list. Everything is connected.

4) Tropical diseases are spreading. New viruses and bacteria for which we have no protection are appearing.

3) Displaced populations of climate refugees are increasing social unrest, disruption of governments and regional violence.

2) Developing nations, which produce the least carbon, are most vulnerable to these disastrous

effects; this is social injustice at its worst.

1) We will persist, like lemmings, toward our own destruction, or we will wake up and use our personal and political will to do what must be done to convert our carbon-based energy systems to solar, wind, geothermal and other existing, sustainable resources.

I will walk the Great March for Climate Action (climatemarch.org) across America starting March 1 with a small army of passionate folks dedicated to a sustainable future for life on the planet.

“Our goal is to change the heart and mind of the American people, our elected leaders and people across the world into acting now to address the climate crisis.”

Historically, great marches have helped produce dramatic social and political change: Gandhi’s march to the sea; the suffragists’ march for women’s right to vote; the march on Selma, Ala., led by Martin Luther King Jr.; and the anti-nuclear Peace March in 1986. But never has it been more critical to take immediate action.

Many other issues need our attention. But, as one climate scientist has said, “Attending to the many other problems on our planet without changing our direction is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.”

By putting our resources into helping victims of climate disasters without addressing the core issue — a lack of personal and political will — we are throwing a thimbleful of water onto a forest fire.

The Great March for Climate Action will create awareness with our visibility and determination, model sustainability, and collaborate with local groups to present educational events and rallies en route. Ordinary people from 35 states and four foreign countries are registered to march for all or part of the journey.

There is nothing more important I can do with my time, energy, resources and passion than to help bring grass-roots awareness of our increasingly catastrophic climate crisis all across America by taking 7 million steps to walk my talk.

I will march to demonstrate the power of ordinary people to reclaim the democratic process and create the political will to do what must be done. I will march so I do not fall into despair. I will march so I can come to know all those other amazing marchers and make a difference.

I will carry a list of my supporters to remind me that I am not alone, and that there exists a great movement to do the right thing for ourselves, our grandchildren, for all life, and for our Earth.

l Miriam Kashia of North Liberty is an Iowa native and retired psychotherapist who is an active member of 100Grannies.org, a climate activist group based in Iowa City. Comments: mkashia43@yahoo.com

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