- Associated Press - Saturday, February 8, 2014

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - For Miriam Kashia, the only way to solve a problem is to face the truth.

That’s why the 71-year-old North Liberty activist is joining The Great March for Climate Change - a 2,980-mile trek from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., designed to inspire average people to pressure politicians and business leaders to address what organizers call “the climate crisis,” once known as global warming. With hundreds of participants, organizers say The Great March will be the largest coast-to-coast march in U.S. history.

“Everyone has heard about the climate crisis, but they’re not letting it in,” Kashia told the Iowa City Press-Citizen (https://icp-c.com/MLULlr). “I think people are protecting themselves from the reality of it because it’s too scary and painful. But that isn’t going to solve the problem.”

Beginning March 1 in Los Angeles, participants will walk 14 to 15 miles per day and camp nearly every night. The event - which was founded by former Iowa lawmaker Ed Fallon - will conclude Nov. 1 in Washington, D.C. Rallies will be held in cities along the route and new technologies will be demonstrated to show ways to combat the climate crisis.

The march is scheduled to pass through Iowa City on Aug. 20.

Some of the other pass-through cities in Iowa include Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Grinnell, Williamsburg, West Branch, West Liberty, Wilton and Davenport.

Kashia, who has a long history of social justice work, including a two-year stint in Namibia with the Peace Corps, said she hopes the event will demonstrate the power of ordinary people to reclaim the democratic process and create the political will to do what must be done.

“We can’t rely on our legislature and government to solve this problem because they aren’t telling us the truth” about climate change, Kashia said. “Climate scientists are doing their best to get the word out, but they don’t have the money and resources that the carbon-based businesses do.

“Our only salvation is if we make an erupt shift from carbon-based routines to sustainable ones.”

By that, Kashia means converting carbon-based energy systems to solar, wind, geothermal and other existing, sustainable resources. To make those changes possible, entrepreneurs who are working on new technologies should have access to the same tax breaks as carbon-based businesses do, she said.

Chris Vinsonhaler met Kashia four years ago through mutual friends and from their first conversation, she could tell Kashia was passionate about the environment.

“It’s clear to me that this is the most important issue in her world,” Vinsonhaler said, “I’m grateful that Miriam is doing something I can’t do. I know many other people feel the same way.”

Kashia said she understands that not everyone has the time and freedom to walk across the country for a cause. But she is doing it on behalf of others who believe that each step she takes will make a difference.

“It occurred to me that if Americans would invest just half the time, attention, energy, emotion and money into solving the climate crisis as we do in following sports, we could solve this in an amazingly short time,” she said. “We geared up in an astoundingly short time after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. We can do it again. We just need to face the truth that is staring us in the face and rally ourselves. No one is going to do it for us.”


Information from: Iowa City Press-Citizen, https://www.press-citizen.com/

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