Green Aspects of the March
We are implementing best practices of Leave No Trace along our trails as well as at our campsites. Our vehicles will ideally be powered with bio-diesel or straight vegetable oil in some cases. Solar energy will be used to power our auxiliary systems, such as A/C for vehicles, lights, refrigeration, etc. We will have a mobile wind unit on the March provided by Anemometry Specialists. We will be using composting portable toilets on the March. All of our materials will be sourced from responsible, earth-friendly companies. We will have recycling programs for worn out shoes, composting of food scraps, and systems to deal with our grey water. Much of our food will be coming from local providers, and the marchers will be eating a delicious, nutritious, low-impact diet.
Our state coordinators are working to find the campsites and take care of all the necessary permitting and other details.
How the Route was Chosen and Relevant Areas of Climate Interest
The broad outline of the route was chosen initially for safety concerns. It had to begin far enough south along the Pacific Coast to ensure snow-free conditions in early March. The route would then need to swing northward to avoid the most extreme summer heat in America’s heartland, while skimming south of the Great Lakes. Our nation’s capitol is, of course, the ultimate destination in this “Great March for Climate Action.” A mix of urban and rural, forests and farmland, will be experienced along this route.
Several iconic landmarks of the risks of climate change will be highlighted enroute. Two great rivers upon which people and agriculture in the southwest depend will be crossed: the Colorado River and the Rio Grande. Fifty miles before reaching the Colorado River (at California’s border with Arizona), marchers will begin to glimpse the aqueduct that diverts a portion of those precious waters westward into Los Angeles. The Rio Grande will be crossed several times between Albuquerque and Taos, New Mexico. In spring of 2013, the river ran dry through Albuquerque — and thus the once-mighty river was renamed the Rio Sand. How much water will it be carrying when the marchers encounter it in May of 2014?
A climate change human tragedy will be remembered enroute as marchers pass within 20 miles of where 19 firefighters died protecting rural homes near Yarnell Arizona a mere nine months earlier.
The “poster animal of climate change” will be on the minds of marchers as they approach Great Sand Dunes National Park in southern Colorado. Mount Blanca of the Sangre de Cristo Range (and sacred mountain of the East for the Navajo peoples) will be visible for a full day. Although the marchers will not reach its higher slopes where the American Pika is challenged by shrinking subalpine habitat, they will experience on the lower slopes dying pines that can no longer fend off the native bark beetles in an ever-warmimg and drying climate.
Both of America’s “poster plants of climate change” will be evident along the route for marchers to ponder. First, while still in California, the marchers will be on the lookout for the only species of desert yucca that is tall enough to be classified as a tree. This is the unusual Joshua Tree of the Mojave Desert, for which Joshua Tree National Park was named. Sadly, foresters expect that before the close of this century, there will no longer be any Joshua Trees in the park; global warming will have made this southern portion of its range uninhabitable.
The poster plant of climate change for the eastern USA will be a major attraction for the marchers while in Cleveland, Ohio. An endangered conifer tree, Florida Torreya, has not reproduced in its historically native range in northern Florida for half a century. Fortunately, private landscapers planted this species in several places in North Carolina nearly a hundred years ago. Seeds produced by the North Carolina trees have been planted as far north as Cleveland by a group of citizen-naturalists who call themselves “Torreya Guardians.” Alarmed by climate change, the Torreya Guardians are attempting to establish thriving populations of this conifer as far north as it will currently grow. Thus far, the young trees are surviving the Ohio winters. The marchers will reflect on how many more species of plants (and animals) will require assistance in moving north in the decades ahead — especially if citizens of the USA and the world are slow to take actions sufficient to halt global shifts in climate.