Sore legs, blistered feet and a 3,000-mile walk are a price worth paying to raise awareness about climate change, say a group of cross-country marchers who stopped in Colorado Springs on Tuesday.
"We need people to start understanding that the science is not joking about this," said Ed Fallon, founder and director of the Great March for Climate Action. "We need to start changing the way that we run our economy, the way we fuel our economy - we can't continue to be with fossil fuels."
As the group walked from America the Beautiful Park to Acacia Park, they sang "This Land is Our Land" and toted signs with messages like "Quit coal" and "Sun yes, oil no."
"We hope to create a better understanding of climate affairs," said Chris Ververis, Colorado coordinator of the march. "We also want to show what is being done and what can be done within each community."
Since starting on March 1 in Los Angeles, the group has walked 1,300 miles to Colorado, where they say effects of climate change are palpable. Drought has caused mountain pine beetle populations to grow at an incredible rate, resulting in the destruction of more than 264,000 acres of forests statewide. Wildfires have wiped out more than 32,000 acres and killed four people in the Colorado Springs area alone. Flooding has caused millions of dollars in damage.
"We've seen a lot of these changes in Colorado in our research," said Jill Baron, research ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. "All of it is directly related to climate changes."
Fallon says very few have mocked the march, and some people still don't care about the issue. The Yale Project on Climate Communication study found that 23 percent of Americans still see global warming as a "naysayer thought."
"As we walk across the country we're finding that more and more people understand the importance of beginning to take this crisis seriously," Fallon said.