Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Forming a line that stretched nearly half a mile, more than 600 people marched into Burlington Monday in what organizers said was the country's largest global warming demonstration to date.

“This is the largest political rally in Vermont in a really long time, and you are the largest demonstration about global warming in the United States to date,” said author Bill McKibben to the energized throng.

"I started working on climate change almost 20 years ago," McKibben, an author who wrote about global warming in his 1989 book "The End of Nature," told the Rutland Herald. "This morning is the single most hopeful I've been in that 20 years, just to see the unbelievable level of response."

"We're hoping to incite political action on global warming," Rebecca Sobel, state organizer of the Project HotSeat campaign for the environmental activist group Greenpeace also told the Herald. "The time for research in the science of global warming is over. We need solutions and we need them now. The technology is already there. We need politicians to help implement it."

Several days ago when the walk began Sobel said, "People no longer are questioning the science of global warming. They're demanding solutions."

McKibben and the international environmental group Greenpeace organized the walk and rally in hopes of putting global warming at the top of the national agenda.

Other groups involved included the Vermont Public Interest Research Group and the Vermont Natural Resources Council whose director, Raven Burchard of Brattleboro, speaking to the walkers a few days ago said that political fighting must end and global warming must be dealt with squarely. "Politics won't mean squat if we can't survive on this planet," Burchard said.

“Think of this march as the first step in a marathon for our grandchildren,” said marcher Elizabeth Courtney.

The following is from the Burlington Free Press.

Walkers tackle global warming

SHELBURNE -- The new sidewalks on U.S. 7 got a workout Monday when more than 500 people walked from Shelburne to Burlington to put global warming in the political spotlight.

The 49-mile walk called "From the Road Less Traveled: Vermonters Walking Toward a Clean Energy Future," began Thursday in Ripton, the hometown of writer and event organizer Bill McKibben. Walkers were free to join the group at any point as it traveled north, crossing through Middlebury, Vergennes and Charlotte. Participation waxed and waned over the five-day period, and the largest group departed from Shelburne Farms on Monday morning, traveling down Shelburne's Harbor Road, South Burlington's U.S. 7 and eventually into Burlington's Battery Park.

Amy Schumer, a high school senior, came from Middlebury to walk with her dad and a high school friend. Schumer, 16, said she was concerned by the crowd, which contained few high-school age teens.

"I'm a little worried because I feel like people my age should care about the environment," Schumer said. "We can't vote, but I still want to raise awareness."

Roger Hill, meteorologist for WDEV, walked with his wife and his dog. Because he studies Vermont's climate on a daily basis, Hill said the tangible effects of global warming are becoming evident: heavier, wetter snow that causes power failures, severe wear and tear on taxpayer-funded roads because of recurring cycles of freezing and thawing, changes in maple sugaring seasons and regions, and economic damage to the state's ski industry.

Global warming is a trend, he said, that will hit Vermonters in their pocketbooks.

"This is not looney-tune leftist plots," Hill said. "This is mainstream science."

While some wore costumes and wildly decorated hats, Margaret Bullitt-Jonas walked in her black vestments. The associate pastor for Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst, Mass., came to walk because she's concerned about the fate of the Earth.

"To me, global warming is an issue of faith. It's the most urgent moral and spiritual issue humanity faces today," Bullitt-Jonas said. "God gave us the Earth to protect and to care for, and human beings are in the process of destroying life on this planet."

The environment and global warming was a favored topic of discussion for the walkers who meandered down the roads. The journey provided an opportunity to meet new people with similar political and social beliefs. Conversations buzzed through the group as people talked about surfing and composting, sports and their kids' accomplishments.

Drivers gawked as they passed, sometimes waving or honking, but often, the walkers were too absorbed in conversations to notice.

After nearly five hours on the road, participants convened in Battery Park for what McKibben called "a good, old-fashioned town meeting." Local political leaders and candidates were asked to publicly sign a pledge to support legislation to work toward an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050, increase fuel economy standards for vehicles to 40 miles per gallon and require that 20 percent of the nation's energy come from renewable resources by 2020.

Eight political leaders and candidates were present to sign the pledge

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