FRANKLIN GROVE – What better way to raise awareness about climate change than being out in the elements?
That's what a group of about 35 people are doing as they march from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. They passed through the Sauk Valley over the weekend. They were in Sterling on Friday, and made their way to Franklin Grove on Saturday.
The Great March for Climate Action started March 1 in Los Angeles. It was organized by Ed Fallon, who served for 14 years as a Democrat in the Iowa Legislature before failed bids for governor in 2006 and Congress in 2008. Marchers hope to arrive in the nation's capital Nov. 1.
Their aim is to raise awareness of the impact carbon emissions have on the globe, and to motivate people and elected leaders to act now to reverse climate change.
Some of the marchers Saturday sported ocean blue T-shirts with a lime green map of the United States etched with the words: Climate March.
"We want to raise awareness," said Lee Stewart, a 27-year-old marcher from northern Virginia. "Our goal is to inspire action in the communities we visit. We have been talking to people in communities across the country."
Stewart has walked with the group since the beginning. He showed no signs of slowing down Saturday afternoon, as temperatures reached 80 degrees.
The group camped out Friday night in Sinnissippi Park in Sterling. They rested Saturday at Chaplin Creek Village in Franklin Grove.
The group has stayed at various places throughout their journey, including churches, camp sites, schools, and even a detention center. The group walks roughly 15 to 17 miles each day.
"Today is a 21-mile day," Stewart said. "We started walking at 6 a.m. [Saturday morning]."
The march is funded by individual donors, and organizers say the event is the largest coast-to-coast climate march in U.S. history.
A study released in March 2013 analyzing temperature changes over the past 11,000 years shows the Earth moving quickly from near record cooling to a heat spike.
Scientists believe this is further evidence that global warming is the result of human activity. Nine of the warmest years in the past 132 years occurred between 2000 and 2010, scientist say.
"I have grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and I lie awake at night wondering what is going to happen to them if the Earth heats up as much as scientists are saying," said Steve Norris, a 71-year-old marcher from Asheville, North Carolina. "We want to have a sustainable earth in 50, 60 or 70 years."
Norris joined the march about a week ago in Davenport, Iowa.
"I knew they were coming through Davenport, and I wanted to be part of this," Norris said, wearing a blue shirt that read "Walk for our grandchildren."
"We just want people to be aware of what's going on," he said.
Kathe Thompson, a 72-year-old marcher from Wellington, Florida, said each week, one person in the group becomes a mute.
"We have one person each week who remains silent in honor of those people who are not able to speak out," she said. "We have to take a stand."
The group is always looking for more people to join the march, whether for a day, a week, or the rest of the journey.
The group will be accepting donations and applications for marchers until the last day at climatemarch.org.
You also can visit the Climate March's Facebook page.