Faith Meckley is an Ithaca College student and Finger Lakes region native who has joined a cross-country walk to change attitudes about global climate change and raise awareness of looming environmental catastrophe.

Meckley is a writer, so we thought we’d let her tell her own story. As you’ll see, that was the right call.

She began walking in Taos, New Mexico, and sent this piece in last week from Sterling, Illinois.

She’s now on the move from Rochelle, Illinois, to DeKalb, Illinois. Follow her at @Viridorari on Twitter.

Written by Faith Meckley:

What inspires a person to walk across the United States, step by step, taking a significant chunk of time off from ‘life’ and leaving behind family and friends? For John Jorgensen, a participant in the 1986 Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament, it was the realization he was living in a world where nuclear war was just a button click away.

“The [Peace March] was a call for sanity in a world gone mad with 50,000 plus nuclear weapons poised to destroy the biosphere,” Jorgensen said.

Faith Meckley

Exactly 28 years later, Jorgensen and many others left on March 1 from the same city as the Peace March did. The same weekend, I was arrested at its eventual endpoint in Washington, D.C. for protesting the Keystone XL Pipeline.

I decided to join the Great March for Climate March Action when I heard about it at the 2013 Powershift conference in Pittsburgh, Pa. After finishing my spring semester at Ithaca College, I joined the group in Taos, New Mexico on May 24 with about 2,000 miles left to go of the 3,000 mile trek from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C.

Like Jorgensen, I felt I was taking a needed stand in a world gone mad — a world where the human race exploits the Earth, animals and even other humans for profit and comfort without a second thought. The task the other Marchers and myself have before us is not one as simple as ‘no more fossil fuels.’ It’s one that requires an entire paradigm shift away from humanity’s current way of living to a new era in which humans live with the Earth, not just on it.

Meckley, left. Submitted photo

A lot of things inspire me to walk across the country for this cause, and unfortunately, one of them is fear. The more reports and facts I hear about climate change, the more I feel trapped. I can’t blame climate deniers for not wanting to admit it; what we have done to our planet is a heavy guilt to carry — one I’ve carried for 1,000 miles so far.

This week, a report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was leaked, and included in this report were some gut-wrenching facts. For example, at our current rate of emission, we will release enough greenhouse gases to surpass the internationally agreed upon ‘safe’ temperature rise of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit in just 20 to 30 years. To avoid this catastrophe, the report says we need to reduce our global emissions 40 to 70 percent by 2050. Given our current bipartisan system that inherently results in a slow, constant power struggle rather than a true representation of the people, I worry that the United States isn’t taking on its fair share of emissions reductions soon enough.

Besides fear of impending doom, my feet are also powered by a fierce passion planted during my childhood in the Finger Lakes Region. I grew up on the north end of Seneca Lake, right next door to Ithaca. I spent my nights catching fireflies under the light of a billion glittering stars; I was taught to love every little critter, even the ones small enough to hide under pebbles; and my favorite pastime is still hiking with my mom in the many state parks tucked away in lovely corners of the region. The idea that this natural treasure trove is in jeopardy evokes a fierce protectiveness, and the idea that the Finger Lakes is only one gem in a whole world of precious stones often keeps me awake at night.

Submitted by Meckley

Lastly, I have my family to think about. I have many younger cousins, the youngest of whom are Alicia, who is almost two, and her brother Henri, who was born in April. I didn’t get a chance to meet Henri before I left to join the March. I feel a responsibility to preserve this beautiful world for them, and maybe even leave it better than I found it. I want them to have all the opportunities I did, rather than having to worry about whether or not they can safely breathe the air or drink the water. If we leave this world in the chaos of our own greed, we will have failed Alicia, Henri and all of our children to come.

As the March now approaches Chicago, we are all feeling the increasing need for action. We are all feeling smaller in the face of a seemingly impossible problem that only grows every day. But we also know giving up is not an option.

So, the other Marchers and I keep walking, begging America and the world to wake up. Some think we’re crazy, but we believe we’re only responding naturally to a world in crisis, and we aren’t alone.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.

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