Week 10 - Fear Not, Fail Not

The walk so far
In this tenth week of our project, we pressed north through the lower part of Minnesota, ultimately
walking to the tiny hamlet of Amboy, MN, where we have left our carts in storage. We are announcing that Pacing the Planet is officially on hold, and we have returned to our home in Missouri, to tend to our house, and to raise funding for the next part of our walk. We plan to recruit more people for our walk before we continue. So far, our company has traveled more than 300 miles on foot.

We wish to thank those who have helped us get this far: in particular, to our families, who have made ongoing financial contributions to make this walk possible; to Gavain's sister, Zoe, for providing our rolling headquarters; to Jason and Laura, for assisting us generously, serving as mail depot, and providing us with a staging ground for the northern half of our journey; to Stan and Echo, who have helped mind our house while we have been gone, and coordinated the publishing of these articles. Without the help of a few generous individuals, need would have sooner turned us from the path of walking.

Therein lies the problem. A movement of only individuals to address the rapid destabilization of the climate is almost certain to fail. Have we forgotten how to mobilize an entire society? By far, the most common response that we have received when we explain the purpose of our walk is indifference -- and the second-place holder is a good-natured, but empty, "Good luck," or "Have fun." The third-most frequent reply is some words about the changing weather, and idle curiosity about how we are funding this adventure of ours.

All three of those outcomes are failure: communication missed, passion drowned, climate changed. Few and far between are the people who really get the context for this moment of Earth's history, and understand that this is a "drop everything" crossroads for humanity. Unfortunately, because failing so often is an embarrassing drag, many people don't want to be associated with this work. So, from the beginning, Pacing the Planet has found a gallery of onlookers just waiting for us to fail. They tell us that the effort is too hard, or that the idea of walking was flawed in the first place, that we won't and can't make a meaningful difference this way. Others in the gallery are silent, waiting for us to come to our senses, come home and be normal, before they'll be friends or family with us again.

Not one of these people is doing anything remotely as effective as Pacing the Planet to tackle the runaway climate, and most of them know that. There is such a strong cultural taboo against seeming like an idealist and renouncing the status quo, that these people would rather do nothing than mortify themselves on the cross of public perception.

Yet, climate change is a cross we are already bearing, whether we realize it or not. And, cynicism is going to look pretty stupid when the innocents you know are suffering for it. That the climate is destabilizing is no longer in question. The big news this week is that researchers have found evidence that the enormous East Antarctic Ice Sheet -- which holds more water than Greenland or West Antarctica -- has melted rapidly in the past, in response to atmospheric carbon dioxide levels that we have already reached this year, and a global temperature that we will reach in the first half of this century. Scientists had thought the East Antarctic Ice Sheet was so stable, they had hardly bothered to study it. Now, they will be scrambling to give us a better forecast of what it is really going to do.

We will continue our walk in the coming weeks and months. Now is not the time to retreat into embarrassed anonymity. We will not be casualties of cowardice, nor of our own convenient rationalizations. The world is changing, the difference is meaningful, and we will meet you on the road.


  1. I love your project!

    Was just checking the site to see an update. I hope you can get more people to help!

    If you need any help on getting the word out i'd love to help!

  2. If you are so focused on global warming, why do you have so many children? Regardless of their practices they all will still have a carbon footprint. Seems

    1. Hi Anonymous! The short answer to your question is that *we didn't know* how bad it was.
      I swear to you, and to god, that I would have made zero children if I had understood then what I understand now.
      We adopted our youngest child to another family (who restrained themselves from producing children for some of the same concern that you share), and the day after his birth, I had my tubes tied forever.
      Make sense? *high five*


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