Why On Earth Did I Walk Halfway Across Nebraska During July

[By: Doug Grandt]
Why on earth did I walk half-way across Nebraska during July?

I have asked myself that question several times.  It was a bit of a struggle with some rain, wind, hot humid days, fatigue, tender feet … but there was also cloud cover, cool mornings, beautiful landscapes … it was an amazing experience.  Yes, I would do it again.

For starters, it was less than half the length of Nebraska. The walking distance on the roads we took totaled 177 miles from my starting point at Holdrege to my jumping-off point at Lincoln, Nebraska. The route taken by the Great March for Climate Action was actually about 390 miles within the state lines of Nebraska.  So, it was not quite half-way.

As a new recruit, I initially walked about 5 miles per day and ended up walking about 10 miles a few times. I drove support vehicles many days in order to give my 67-year-old body a rest and to give long-term marchers more time with their “boots-on-the ground” — it was a win-win situation for all.

I experienced no blisters, but plenty of days with tender, sore soles and tired muscles and a few afternoons when I wilted from the heat — nothing fatal by any means.

The routes taken and the variety of rewards at the end of the day made every day an adventure — it is the journey, not the destination, as they say.

I had some work assignments, too!  Rolling up my sleeves to help fellow marches gave me plenty of opportunities to hear their stories and to commiserate about our strategies and tactics in our mutual cause to demand climate action.

My daily chores included: Preparing for breakfast, cooking scrambled eggs and bacon for 20+, washing, drying and packing breakfast dishes, cleaning up the cooking area, stowing equipment into the kitchen truck after breakfast (leaving no trace), loading the break truck with snacks and water, driving the break truck and arriving at appropriate times and distances with shade trees when possible, driving the emergency relief car for those who might suffer physical ailments.

In all of these endeavors, every day was an adventure.  On one occasion, I assisted emptying the eco-commodes.  What might seem like a disgusting task turned out to be rather benign because the “composting” process of layering saw dust after each use eliminated any traces of odor and unsightliness.

I heartily recommend reading Mary’s account of a Typical Day.

My main objective for joining the Great March for Climate Action was the unique opportunity to satisfy my daily objective of encouraging people in all walks of life and in all vocations to do something daily that will help move us toward the society in which greenhouse gas emissions cease.  To quote Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution founder Dr. George Woodwell, “We must abandon our reliance on the burning of carbon-based fuels; we are poisoning the planet.”  Furthermore, climatologist Dr. James Hansen and his team have called for a 6%/year reduction in emissions beginning immediately.  IPCC Chairman Dr. Rajendra Pachauri told me back in 2008 that we needed to begin reducing emissions by 2012 if we expected to maintain global average temperature less than 2°C over pre-industrial.  I tell interested people I meet as well as members of Congress and industrial leaders (for example, http://TellRex.com) that we need to begin dismantling the carbon-based infrastructure and start replacing refineries and power plants with renewable energy technologies.

For 16 days in July while marching with the Great March for Climate Action, I actually had very little opportunity for my daily communication, BUT, I was selected to be interviewed by two local television stations (Hastings and Lincoln) and my message did get out, albeit in two 10-second sound-bites.

The overall message carried from Wilmington, California, to Washington, DC, by the two dozen intrepid marchers will be noted, if not for their numbers, for their emphatic and persistent demeanor and dedication, not to mention their personal 7,000,000 steps over 246 days (8 months from March 1 to November 1).

Anybody who understands the physical demands and accomplishment will “get it” — we are serious and we mean business!  The intrepid Climate Marchers arriving at the Capitol will be undeniable.
For humanity!
Doug Grandt