It was gratifying beyond measure for this long time crusader to see kids and their middle aged parents gathered together in the park on a rainy day chanting:
“No more coal, no more oil, keep the carbon in the soil!”
That mantra along with half a dozen others was chanted over and over as the growing crowd applauded approval. Led by a small group of tireless teenaged “cheerleaders” at the top of the stairs of the Salt Lake County Building, it seemed nearly everyone in the crowd of hundreds carried a sign or banner. My favorite was that of a young woman, about 15 years old, the age of my granddaughter, whose banner read:
“This (graphic of the earth) is getting hotter than my imaginary boyfriend.”
The idea of using humor to address a serious matter has always appealed to me; thus the title of my book FOOTPRINT: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Extinctionwritten in 2010 and published both in English and Chinese. FOOTPRINTwas written in direct response to Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth, offering a blueprint on how to transition to a renewable energy economy. One of the important elements to the equation was to transition to electric transportation. That’s why I was there.
Reporters and camera crews roamed the area, picking up stories from various participants. Young Ari Grace stated her case, “Because I’m a minor I can’t vote but I can strike. We know it’s the adults that get to vote but we’re here to urge them to vote for candidates that prioritize the climate and using alternative sources of energy.”
On camera KSL news woman Garna Mejia interviewed me as I sat on my bicycle seat sheltered from the rain by my overhead solar panel. “I rode this solar powered electric bike 800 miles from Portland, Oregon to Salt Lake City to show what the sun can do. In fact, a solar array the size of Madagascar could power all human needs.”
My short interview didn’t make it past the newsroom editors to the evening news that night, but our message rang loud and clear and it was reported in newsrooms across the country and around the world. See Ari Grace speak and the crowds that braved the rainy weather to make our presence known here: Thousands Gather In Utah As Part Of Global Climate Strike
People at the strike came by to to learn about Sunride and pick up information. A lady on a Rad electric bike with a toddler strapped on the back approached to give her approval of my customized solar bike. There was so much enthusiasm and a spirit of hope.
For more than a decade I’ve felt like a single voice crying out in the wilderness. Now there were hundreds of other voices there with me, among hundreds of thousands of voices worldwide that day, and millions of quiet voices murmuring in the hearts of people everywhere who care about Mother Earth. Could this day inspired by a 16 year-old Swedish schoolgirl named Greta Thunbergbe the turning point?
It sure felt like it.