Day Eighty-Nine

1157 miles | Springfield, OH | Follow Bob's progress live with Spot GPS.

This CNN story is what’s on my mind today…

More than 90% of world's children breathe toxic air, report says, as India prepares for most polluted season

By Mary McDougall, CNN | Updated 8:47 AM ET, Mon October 29, 2018

Around 93% (1.8 billion) of the world's children breathe air that is so polluted it puts their health and development at serious risk, a new WHO report says. In few places is this more pertinent than India where residents are bracing themselves for the country's peak polluted season.

In 2016, 600,000 children were estimated to have died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.

Air pollution is one of the leading threats to health in children under 5, accounting for almost one in 10 deaths among this age group, the report reveals.

"This is inexcusable. Every child should be able to breathe clean air so they can grow and fulfill their full potential" said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement.

 Read the full story.

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“Air pollution also effects neurological development and cognitive ability and can trigger asthma and childhood cancer, the report says. Children exposed to excessive pollution may also be at greater risk of chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease in adulthood.”

Bob McCormick
Day Eighty-Two

1100 miles | Richmond, IN | Follow Bob's progress live with Spot GPS.

Thanks to Kathy Walters Cutri for asking this question:

There are so many things/areas we need to work on changing our ways in order to make our planet sustainable for our future generations. I worry when I see our current administration throwing our parks out to wolves, seeing climate changes/global warming, thinking of landfills, etc. Where do you see the most immediate change needs to happen?

There are thousands, if not millions working on the problems you mention above, and we need to continue those efforts. But are these efforts enough? According to the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the window of opportunity for us to effectively self-regulate is closing. The IPCC estimates we have 10 years before self-regulation becomes meaningless. 

In spite of our current efforts, human activity released more carbon dioxide (2.57 million pounds/sec.) into the atmosphere than we did last year. So clearly, all current efforts, including our personal, local, and national efforts are not enough. Many advocate doing more of what we are already doing, recycle more, use less plastic, switch to renewables, etc. Certainly this is a logical approach and one we are all familiar with. But with our limited window of time (the IPCC report) combined with the goals of some (see your reference above) to actually thwart those efforts, will this approach—even if we double down and ‘try’ even harder—will it be enough? And what if it’s not?

We have to fix the problem… and we can fix the problem. Borrowing from Einstein again, we just can’t fix the problem using the same mindset in place when we created the problem. 

Our mindsets, the mindsets that created the problem that led to global warming—take care of yourself, your family and your country. We can’t fix what is obviously a global problem using personal and national solutions. Global problems require global solutions. Global solutions require global cooperation. 

I am not walking to promote American Intergenerational Justice. The Earth’s current humans are responsible for the health of future humans. Accepting that new mindset, a global, long term mindset, changed how I saw solutions. For me, that was the ‘immediate’ change that needed to happen and the change I am promoting by walking from Denver to DC.

Thank you Kathy Walters Cutri for asking such a great question.

Bob McCormick
Day Seventy-Five

1029 miles | Indianapolis, IN | Follow Bob's progress live with Spot GPS.

It is a bit difficult to judge whether walking to promote a concept as unknown as Intergenerational Justice is being successful. So far, five newspapers, two radio stations, and two local TV stations have all mentioned IJ in their coverage about the walk. But, except for Gary Henry’s piece in the The Prairie Press, the stories are more about an old man walking from Denver to DC than about the importance of accepting the responsibilities that come with being the Earth’s current humans.

Just last week the UN’s International Panel on Climate Change, issued a dire warning. We are running out of time to accept the responsibility mentioned above. The good news is we still have time. But in order to use that time effectively, we may have to, at least temporarily, stop following our current leaders and their relentless pursuit of the “Fool’s Gold” of a better life for all current humans. 

It is my hope—and I would not be walking without hope—that very soon we come to realize that future humans need and deserve our support. Ironically, I doubt there is a better way to address what ails us today than to elevate our concerns for the well-being of future humans.

I’m headed West tomorrow morning, and for the first time since leaving Denver, I will not be walking on Rte. 36; I’ll be on Rte 40 for a while now.

Bob McCormick
Day Sixty-Nine

933 miles | Newman, IL | Follow Bob's progress live with Spot GPS.

While our President has decided to castrate the Environmental Protection Agency, pull our nation out of the Paris Accords, and encourage the use of fossil fuels, the scientists working on the behalf of all of the world’s humans at the UN have issued a dire warning—we have no more than 10 years left to avoid a climate catastrophe.

We don’t have the time required to respond effectively by re-educating our President, or by volunteering for or sending money to environmental groups, or for writing to our Congress Person or Senator, or for writing letters to the editor.

There must be a course of action available that rises to the level required to avoid the collapse of the ecosystem that supports human life. The only thing we know for sure, it has never been tried.

My suggestion, after many years of attempting to view us using a long term, global lens and after walking 1000 miles thinking about Intergenerational Justice, would be to temporarily set aside our national and religious goals, convene a Global Summit where we agree to cooperate globally on achieving the only goal that truly matters today, Humanity’s Survival.

I’m sure there are other valid suggestions that deserve our attention. But the time for debate is short. The time to pick a course of action and act—is now.

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“…the scientists working on the behalf of all of the world’s humans at the UN have issued a dire warning—we have no more than 10 years left to avoid a climate catastrophe.”

Bob McCormick
Day Sixty-Three

843 miles | Springfield, IL | Follow Bob's progress live with Spot GPS.

At least one contributing factor in my decision to walk from Denver to DC occurred when I read the first sentence in the introduction to the book, “Handbook of Intergenerational Justice”, many years ago.

The concept of ‘Intergenerational Justice’ may very well become an intellectual leitmotif of the new century.
— Dr. Joerg Chet Tremmel

Although Dr. Tremmel prediction may be off time wise, Intergenerational Justice has entered the domain of human thought. Once gender, racial and social justice became a part of human thinking, they became permanent residents in our minds, giving birth to an entirely new set of mores and laws. We have a long way to go, but no human today would advocate dropping our universal quest for gender, racial and social justice.

I agree with Dr. Tremmel. Intergenerational Justice is about to take a seat at the table and when it does it may very well become the intellectual leitmotif of our times. That is my hope and my reason for walking.

Bob McCormick