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Activists urge action on climate change

Gary Powell holds a sign that will be a part of the collage that congress will be sent in hopes of making a change for the future. Front photo by Thom Larkin.

For more photos see the .

In eastern Maine they climbed a mountain, and in Key West, Fla. they held an underwater scuba protest. In Washington D.C. they organized on the Mall, and in Seattle they marched across the city. In New York City they marked the spot in Manhattan to which the ocean is expected to rise, and in the San Francisco Bay area they rallied outside a Hummer dealership.

Climate activists spent Saturday in more than 1,300 locations across the country, including here in Ashland, highlighting the dangers of climate change and what must be done to stave off its potentially catastrophic effects on the human race. The grassroots effort sought to send a clear message to Congress: "Policy change, not climate change," read a placard on the Plaza.

The event, called Step It Up 2007, attempted to draw attention to global warming while motivating people everywhere and governments at every level to take action.

Ironically enough, Ashland event organizers said the turnout on the Plaza was dampened by the inclement weather &

the same force of nature that activists believe could prove debilitating if people and governments don't act to stop climate change.

"What should we be doing" about climate change, Jefferson Public Radio talk show host Jeff Golden asked the 50 people who endured rain in Ashland to make a stand against global warming. "Should we be organizing on a national political level, on a state level or the local level? Should we be paying attention to our own personal habits. The answer is yes."

The people committed enough to protest in the rain, Golden said, were likely already committed enough to make change in their personal lives. What Step It Up was all about, he said, was getting the rest of America on board.

"If you talk to national politicians they'll tell you they know the score," Golden said. "But people aren't willing to sacrifice."

To get the average American to take climate change seriously, Golden said the issue should be "re-framed" from a sacrifice into "a great upside in the way we relate to one another.

"Our so-called privilege has distanced us from each other. Have a neighborhood pot-luck and have the discussion be about what are the personal changes we can be implementing," Golden urged.

Lesley Adams, of the Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center who helped to organize the Ashland event, said climate change should be the top priority of politicians at every level.

"There has been a failure of leadership," she said. "That's what Step It Up is all about. We need to put pressure on our public officials."

Ashland City Councilor Kate Jackson agreed. She said Ashland may be on the cutting edge of proactive action on global warming, there is more that can &

and should &

be done.

"It's really important to work with elected officials on avoiding climate change," she said. "Our city has several conservation programs and we should be expanding them."

Dan Wahpepah, one of the founders of Red Earth Descendants, a local group of Native Americans, said it would take three planets to sustain all of the Earth's inhabitants if everyone lived like Americans.

"The glaciers are melting," he said. "There is no going back, we're past that point. We have to deal with whatever consequences we have created."

Staff writer can be reached at 482-3456 x. 226 or .