Former Park Commission Chairman Walks 100 Miles to Fight Climate Change
Mark Johnson, who served as chairman of the Lake George Park Commission from 1999 to 2002, was among the scores of people who walked 100 miles last weekend from Camp David to the White House to demand action on climate change.
The week-long walk, called a “Walk For Our Grandchildren,” was part of an effort to persuade President Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would run from Canada’s tar sands to American oil facilities along the Gulf of Mexico.
Johnson was among the hundreds who rallied outside the White House in Lafayette Park, calling on Obama to halt construction of the pipeline and for fossil fuels to “stay in the ground.”
Johnsburg resident and climate change activist Bill McKibben was among the speakers.
“President Barack Obama has the power to reject the pipeline; in fact, he has said that he would reject the plan if it is found to increase carbon emissions,” said Johnson.
As the executive director of Fellowship for Reconciliation, an international, interfaith organization dedicated to the prevention of war, Johnson has helped build a coalition of faith-based groups called Interfaith Moral Action on Climate.
According to Johnson, the purpose of the coalition is to create a greater awareness of the moral implications of climate change and of a collective responsibility for reducing carbon emissions.
Climate change is, of course, a global issue, one related to the issues that Johnson’s organization, the Fellowship for Reconciliation, address on a daily basis.
“As someone who has spent his life developing the practices and skills of nonviolence, the “Walk For Our Grandchildren,” was an opportunity for me to state that the greatest source of violence in the 21st Century will be driven by the consequences of climate change: food shortages, loss of safe drinking water; rising oceans driving millions in-land; and economic inequities exaggerated by violent extractive practices of oil, coal and other minerals,” said Johnson.
But for Johnson, climate change is also a local issue. He said his awareness of the threat of climate change began during his years on Lake George, where he worked as executive director of the Silver Bay YMCA.
“Not long ago, at the annual meeting of the Lake George Land Conservancy, I narrated a history of the organization, which I chaired for ten of its first years. When we created the Conservancy, we were responding to a tenfold acceleration in the annual deterioration of one of America’s most beautiful lakes. I now see more clearly that we were witnessing the impact of climate change. Yes, some pressures came from the introductions of invasives by human carriers, but the ecology was growing more hospitable to invasives by virtue of what was just emerging into public consciousness, global warming,” said Johnson.
In fact, Johnson said, climate change is a personal issue, as the name of the 100-mile march, “Walk For Our Grandchildren,” makes clear.
“Our daughter Allison gave birth to our first grandson, Jack, on October 29, just as Superstorm Sandy struck the east coast. Our daughter Monica is expecting our second grandchild in October, 2013. I walked for them and for all grandchildren,” said Johnson.