Last week, most of us in the lower 48 states endured brutal, sweltering 90+ degree weather. Factoring in humidity, the heat index pushed it to 105 degrees in my hometown. I'm relieved that temperatures will drop to a comparatively balmy mid-80's for my walk from Harpers Ferry, W. Va. to the White House this week.
I will be joining a cohort of like-minded elders in a Walk for Our Grandchildren from Monday thru Saturday, July 22-27. Our goal is to take the climate change issue straight to the president's door step. I am prompted to action as a matter of climate justice for my grandchildren, and yours.
In 1991, my daughter-in-law Regan constructed the "SAVE OUR HOME; fight global warming" button shown below when she was a ten-year-old middle school student in Corpus Christi, Texas. She gave it to me several years ago. This button is a simple but powerful statement about the hope of our children and grandchildren, and the failure of us -- their parents and grandparents.
When I was a child, a young researcher named Dave Keeling began documenting high precision, high accuracy concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere. In 1958, the CO2 concentration in our atmosphere was 313 parts per million (ppm). By the time Regan constructed her "fight global warming" button as a child in 1991, CO2 had risen to 355 ppm. Regan's two children, Sam and Zady, now live in world with a global atmospheric CO2 concentration at 398 ppm.
The CO2 concentration in our atmosphere has increased by more than 27 percent from the time I was a child to today. This increase has produced an enhanced greenhouse effect leading to the climate disruption we are now experiencing.
I have 7 grandchildren -- Ally (7), Sam (5), Zady (3), Colton (3), Finn (2), Olivia (1), and Aubrey (1). Grandchild number 8 is due to arrive in November. I am walking for their future.
In 1988, presidential candidate George H. W. Bush stumped, "Those who think we are powerless to do anything about the 'greenhouse gas effect' are forgetting the 'White House effect.' As president, I intend to do something about it." Although Bush signed the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 1992 (a year after Regan constructed her button), we are no closer to curbing our annual multi-gigaton emissions of CO2. Presidents Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama and our elected legislators in the Senate and House have all failed to act.
President Obama gets it. He affirmed his commitment to tackle the issue of climate change in his 2013 State of the Union Address, "If Congress won't act soon to protect future generations, I will." He stated in his climate change speech at Georgetown University, "our children, and our children's children, will look at us in the eye and they'll ask us, did we do all that we could when we had the chance to deal with this problem." At a rally and ceremony on Saturday, July 27th at the White House, we will ask our President to act and "deal with this problem."
It is time for us to expose the environment molesters -- those who prey on the trust and innocence of our grandchildren, consuming their resources and defiling their future home. Our grandchildren and as-yet-unborn generations deserve climate justice today!
Please join me and other grandparent activists who demand action from our policymakers. Walk with me to the White House this week. I will be the guy wearing a green Tully hat with Regan's button pinned to it.