My Turn: How many steps will it take

Come out Saturday, May 24 to celebrate and stand with these courageous marchers.

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By the time they reach Washington, D.C., in November the folks walking in the Great March for Climate Action climatemarch.org will have taken more than 7 million steps in their effort to remind us all of the urgency of the climate crisis and the need for immediate, strong and sustained action to slow the process of climate change. They walk for us; they walk to inspire us to take action in our communities and to insist that our elected officials do the same.

The marchers are students and grandparents, mother, fathers, sister and brothers who see the climate crisis as the most important moral issue of our time. They practice nonviolence and a ‘town meeting’ style of self-governance. They walk each day with whatever the changing weather brings, enduring storms, heat, sore feet, aching backs. They face the daily challenges of living in close community.

To my mind they are true patriots giving their precious time to tell us the truth about what we are facing as a world community, and what we must do. They left Los Angeles on March 1 and arrive in Taos May 24 to spend two days with us before heading north to Colorado.

As the National Climate Assessment (nca2014.flovLXHnfw.gov), just released last week makes clear, human driven climate disruption is real, it is here now, it is altering lives in every region of the country, and we have the power to slow it down. According to the report — the result of five years of work by 300 experts in a wide range of fields — climate change is having dramatic health, ecological, agricultural and economic impacts across the United States with more severe impacts to come.

We all know the signs – summers are longer and hotter, fires are more frequent and more intense, weather events are more unpredictable and devastating, drought is worsening, oceans have warmed, sea levels are rising. The report opens stating: “Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present. Corn producers in Iowa, oyster growers in Washington State, and maple syrup producers in Vermont are all observing climate-related changes that are outside of recent experience. So, too, are coastal planners in Florida, water managers in the arid southwest, city dwellers from Phoenix to New York, and native Peoples on tribal lands from Louisiana to Alaska.”

For us in the Southwest region it is drier and hotter with more to come. Did you know that extreme heat is already the number one weather-related killer in the United States, with the highest rate of heat-related deaths happening in Arizona? And, in the Southwest, whatever affects the reliability of our water supplies and the timing of rain and snow affects everything.

This report underscores the urgency of the Climate Marcher’s cause. The marchers are exercising their power and so can we. We can and we must drastically cut our use of dirty fossil fuels. We can and we must make a full transition to clean renewable energy. Though lobbying groups composed of fossil fuel corporations and wealthy individuals protecting their interests are pushing back against measures to encourage renewable energy growth, we can push back harder.

Please join the marchers while they are here. March with them on Saturday May 24 at 2:45 p.m. as they walk from the Visitor Center to Kit Carson Park; join them in Kit Carson Park at 4 p.m. to listen to their stories and to invited speakers like New Mexico author William DeBuys; invite them to speak in your church.

We can join with the marchers as they head north toward Denver for a day, a week, a month. We can act on our own inspiration to address the climate crisis as they are acting on theirs. We can support and work with our local organizations – Amigos Bravos, Renewable Taos, Rivers & Birds, the Sierra Club, the Taos Land Trust, 350.org, New Energy Economy, Citizens’s Climate Lobby, Environment New Mexico. So much good work being done and so much more to do.

Come out Saturday, May 24 to celebrate and stand with these courageous marchers.

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