Clevelanders join national rally to reduce carbon emissions

(Plain Press May 2007) Families with children and environmental activists joined together in a rally at Edgewater Park on Saturday April 14th as part of a national Step It Up 2007 rally calling for a reduction in carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050.

The rally featured speeches, signs, songs and lots of literature about local environmental groups and their activities. Amy Martinez, an organizer for the rally, said the group at Edgewater Park was there to represent Cleveland as part of a national effort to ask Congress to support legislation that would dramatically reduce carbon emissions that cause global warming.

Randy Cunningham, a member of the Buckeye Forest Council and an organizer of the event, called the lack of progress in cleaning up carbon emissions a “failure of resolve.” “What we never hear about is the moral dimension,” said Cunningham, noting our societal obsession with economic costs and numbers on spreadsheets. “What gets me is,  nobody is asking, ‘Is it right?’”, he said.

Cunningham said thousands of Cleveland children and adults suffer from asthma and other ailments because of our choice of energy. We are fighting a war in Iraq because of oil and saddling future generations with a huge debt.

“America’s greatest problem is a lack of imagination,” said Cunningham. “We are told our flights of fantasy will come to nothing. If we dream, we are to dream only of a bigger house or bigger car, not a better world.”

Cunningham said the current climate crisis is the result of a “crisis in democracy, due to a lack of leadership.” However, Cunningham urged those present not to give up on the political leaders. He said, “They can be helped. They can be reformed.”

Lee Kamps, a founding member of a local Sierra Club with an educational background in biology and geology said, “There is solid evidence that global warming is occurring and human activity is accelerating this climate change.”  One of the results of global warming he noted is that Ohio has had six of the seven snowiest winters on record since 1992. He said this is a result of cold air from the north coming over an increasingly warmer Lake Erie.

Another concern Kamps raised is that global warming will result in the Southwest United States becoming hotter and drier and he feared this will result in pressure to divert water from the Great Lakes. Kamps said, “The window to address this issue is short. The time is now.” He urged all of those present “to take small steps now to reduce our carbon footprint.”

Environmental activist Trudy E. Bell said that since 1750 human activity has put 350 giga tons of carbon emissions into the earth’s atmosphere. She said half of that has occurred since 1970. Bell urged those interested in learning the latest scientific evidence about global warming to look at the website of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change which did a study on global warming commissioned by the United Nations. She said the website could be found at

Ohio Citizen Action organizer Liz Ilg urged those present to join in a local group called Neighbors of Mittal Steel, which she described as “citizens working together to clean up the biggest polluter we have in town.” She said the fine particles emitted by the steel mill are very dangerous for residents’ health, contributing to heart problems, lung disease and asthma. She said, “We are an asthma capital here in Cleveland.”

Some of the actions that the Step It Up 2007 campaign recommends are:
•    pull the plug on electrical devices when not in use
•    replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs
•    use mass transit, walk or bike whenever possible
•    keep car tires properly inflated
•    buy products that are grown locally, and
•    contact representatives in Congress at to express your interest in stepping up efforts to reduce carbon emissions.

Editor’s note: For more information about the Step It Up campaign visit:


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