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The March on Global Warming

This is cool. Are you in Vermont or upper-easter-New York? Maybe I’ll see you there.

Invitation from John Elder and Bill McKibben

Dear Friends,

Consider this an invitation to join us for some part of a Labor Day weekend walk—a fairly long, probably sweaty, and intermittently scenic march in daily stages across the Champlain Valley to Burlington. Sound inviting? What it offers in return for aching feet is the chance to express our deep desire for real action to finally start addressing global warming.

We’ll leave at noon on Thursday August 31 from Robert Frost’s old writing cabin in Ripton, and walk for the next four days to Middlebury, then Vergennes, then Charlotte, then Shelburne Farms. Some people will do the entire walk; most will join us for individual days somewhere along the route—with the biggest crowd, we hope, leaving from Shelburne Farms on Monday morning at 9 AM to march together into downtown Burlington and gather in the early afternoon for an address from our political candidates at City Hall Park. In each town we visit we’ll hold a Conversation on the Green with music, speakers, and with chances to take action. Before we’re done we hope to incite our state and federal candidates to commit to taking real action.

Why a walk? Because many of us have started making some of the changes in our own lives and our own communities to deal with global warming. But important as it is to change lightbulbs, to insulate homes, to eat local food, we also realize that this most global of problems also demands leadership from our federal government. And that leadership has been sorely lacking: even as the science around global warming has grown steadily darker, the political appointees at the head of the Environmental Protection Agency have declared that in their eyes carbon dioxide is “not a pollutant.” The Congress has decided that all legislation addressing this issue must pass through a committee chaired by a man, James Imhofe, who calls global warming “a hoax.” And so—in this warmest year on record across the United States—we walk to ask that this logjam be broken. Our hope is that just as in the past Vermont has spurred action on other issues, so too this example will lead others across the country to increase the pressure.

And why are we leaving from Frost’s cabin? In the hopes of finding strength from Vermont’s Yankee heritage, which addressed problems forthrightly and figured out how to solve them. We are confident that if special interests and political ideology can be set aside, the answers to curb runaway global warming can indeed be found.

This is not a partisan effort, nor is concern about global warming confined to “environmentalists.” This march will include hunters, fishermen, and farmers; hikers, bikers and birdwatchers. We are students and businesspeople, sugarmakers and ski-lift operators. We are parents and grandparents, and young people facing lifetimes on a warming planet. We are people of faith, and secular people devoted to the common good. Indeed, we have all been moved in recent weeks by the efforts of our retiring independent Senator Jim Jeffords, who has introduced legislation on global warming that goes further than any previous effort to really grapple with this problem. One of our aims is to make sure that his principles—an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, 20 percent renewable power by 2020, and cars that get at least 40 miles per gallon—prevail on Capitol Hill.

If you visit our website you’ll find everything you need to get involved. You can sign up to walk on particular days of the trip (we need to have some idea of who’s coming as we try to deal with logistics). You’ll also find lots of other ways to help, from donating some money to doing some driving to offering some other talent. Right now you could also help by forwarding this message to anyone you think might want to participate. We’re organizing this on a wing and a prayer, and so we need all the help you can give!

The most important days of this whole trek may be the start (noon on Thursday the 31st in Ripton) and the finish (leaving Shelburne Farms at 9 in the morning on Labor Day Monday, September 4). We’ll also be part of a special church service Sunday morning September 3 at 10 AM at the Charlotte Congregational Church. Friday and Saturday—the walks to Vergennes and Charlotte—may be a little less crowded, with more chance just to chat with each other. Whatever your schedule, we look forward to walking side by side with you sometime on Labor Day weekend, and sending a clear message that the time for action is finally here. We’re all frustrated in the face of this crisis—but together we can make our voices heard!

Bill McKibben and John Elder

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