Day One Hundred and Four

1344 miles | Valley Grove, WV | Follow Bob's progress live with Spot GPS.

It’s been more than 100 days on the road now! Along the way, I’ve met many people who also know that we need to change, but this note I just received from a citizen in West Virginia is really worth sharing…

“Good evening, Bob!

“Unfortunately, I only just read your story on our local news site, but it occurs to me that you most likely walked right past my house on National Road in Valley Grove, WV today. Had I known, I would have made sure to be here to offer you lunch and walk a little bit with you to learn more about your journey and let you know how much I appreciate what you’re doing.

“Too many people only consider how their actions affect their own lives and ignore what messes future generations will have to clean up. It’s heartbreaking to live in a state that is consistently one of the top three most obese, yet individuals and our greater society tend not to make decisions that would go towards solving them.

“It’s frustrating to live in the Mountain State—a place where you think people would love and respect the very mountains we’re nicknamed after—where coal companies chop off the tops of them, destroying an ecosystem of over a million species (second most diverse in the world!) in order to harvest a finite fuel source. This state is far too concerned with a dying industry that’s hurting our physical and economic health, and not trying hard enough to look to the future.

“I don’t mean to get too negative (I really do love this state and I hope you did too!)—I just wanted to let you know that your short time in West Virginia didn’t go unnoticed! We here in Wheeling are a little removed from the rest of the state, but someday I suggest you travel to the coalfields of Southern WV to witness what I’m talking about and spread your important message.

“Best of luck on the rest of your journey! It’s always been a wild dream of mine to do something similar... one day I hope to have the grit and guts you have!

”Mary Lu in WV”

Bob McCormick
Day Ninety-Nine

1300 miles | New Concord, OH | Follow Bob's progress live with Spot GPS.

Walking for 8 to 10 hours everyday (1300 down, 340 to go) gives you a lot of time to listen to audio books and music, and to observe and to think.

Regarding the thinking ...

If we define short term to be a human lifetime, or any thing less, and if we define some humans to include our families, friends and fellow citizens, it would be safe to say, the vast majority of us are concerned about the short term health of some humans.

This “short term/some humans” level of concern has dominated our story from the beginning. But all indications, especially recent studies done by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) are making it impossible to deny-- the “short term/some humans” level of concern is inadequate to effectively address our problems.

The IPCC study is quite clear, human activity is a very real threat to our long term survival. The study states, we have 10 to 12 years to alter our behavior before self regulation becomes meaningless. The WHO report informs us that pollution is negatively affecting the mental development and physical health of 93% of our children.

“Short term/some humans” or “Long term/all humans”, are different levels of concern that I think about often when walking.

Bob McCormick
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.

Screenshot 2018-10-30 20.38.07.png

“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