- File Size: 6051 KB
- Print Length: 352 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Good Boots Press; 1 edition (January 4, 2016)
- Publication Date: January 4, 2016
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01A7I0CWA
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,990,642 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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David and the Giant Mailbox: Walking 1000 Miles to Talk About Climate Change Kindle Edition
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
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David Henry did just that. He walked over a thousand miles to talk to people about climate change. From June to August 2013, David walked by foot from Boston, Massachusetts to South Charleston, Ohio. It's a distance of 1,042 miles over 60 days. He kept his belongings inside a large covered cart, which people he encountered thought it looked like a giant mailbox. Hence, the title of the book, David and the Giant Mailbox.
In 2012, David Henry started feeling restless in his home in St. Louis Missouri that he must do something about climate change. He had read enough news reports about extreme weather and learned enough about the science of climate change from sources like skepticalscience.com. Through his interest in this subject, David learned that climate change is real, caused by human activity currently, it impacting people right now, and we must act fast to reduce the nastiest consequences.
It worried David that people did not seem to care. He then discovered how Americans perceive climate change. He read the September 2012 Yale Project for Climate Change Communication published report, Global Warming's Six Americas. This report based on several public opinion surveys notes that Americans fall into six categories of attitudes on climate change: Alarmed, concerned, cautious, disengaged, doubtful, and dismissive. According to that report, only about 16% of the population was alarmed like David. As far as the other 84% the population, David felt angry they were not as alarmed as him. He wrote,
"I envisioned all of humanity sleepwalking down a narrow path to the edge of a cliff. That made me pissed. I couldn't just sit back and let it happen. I decided it was time to do something."
I can totally relate how David felt in 2012. The same awareness about climate change happened to me working during the winter of 2007-08 in Everglades National Park in south Florida. As I share in my current climate change talks and speeches, I became a naturalist park ranger narrating boat tours in Everglades National Park in 1998. At that time, I knew nothing about climate change. However, park visitors were starting to ask me about this global warming thing and they expect park rangers to know everything.
After reading all I could about climate change for years, by the winter of 2007-08, I could not sleep at night working in the Everglades. I felt I had to do something about climate change.
To this day, I still work my summer job at Crater Lake National Park. However, I gave up my winter job in the Everglades to return home to St. Louis for the winter. I had no idea what I was going to do in my hometown. However, I knew I had to speak out, write and organize locally to inspire others to take action to reduce the threat of climate change. 16 years later, I am still trying to figure how to take bold action on climate change.
Over the years, I have take some bold actions to speak out on climate change awareness and promoting action with lots of public speaking and organizing. However, none of my actions are as brave as David Henry walking over a 1,000 miles to talk about climate change
The book was a fascinating page turner about David's 1,042 mile journey on foot. It may been been over 300 pages long, but it was a very quick read. The chapters, averaging about 5 to 6 pages long, were basically an account of what happened each day. As an aspiring cross country hiker, I quickly learned that a cross county hike is not easy.
David had to confront many busy streets with no sidewalks, intense thunderstorms, sore feet, fatigue near the end, sunburn, trying to find a place to camp each night, flat tires on his cart, etc. With all of the frustrations, he add ask himself multiple times if it was worth it to continue.
Friends warned him to be leery of people. However, David found numerous people willing to help him out on a pinch. In his everyday life, David is more of a quiet and reserved guy. Conversations are not always easy for him.
Therefore, part of the wonder of the book is seeing David break out of his comfort zone and engage people. The cart shaped like a mailbox was an amazing conversation starter or ice breaker for people he encountered. In walking long distances, David got to experience firsthand the Anne Franck quote:
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart."
David's quote though was not just to walk to meet people. His big goal was to have a conversation with as many people he could find about climate change. His specific plan was to have at least 100 global warming conversations while he walked across the country. As David shares his stories of the conversations, he provides a great example how to converse with people about climate change.
After folks would approach him about what he was doing, David would gently explain he was walking across to create more awareness about climate change. Some folks took a genuine interest, others just changed the subject, some were disinterested and just a few wanted to argue with David in a hostile manner.
In the few cases where folks wanted to strongly disagree with David, he would completely listen to them in a heartfelt way. He would then quietly to try correct their misconceptions about the science by quoting such sources as the Consensus Project, which affirmed that 97% of climate scientists agree climate change is hapening and it is mostly human caused.
Through the book's recollection of his conversations, David gives a great lesson to not get angry, lecture, or insult the people when he occasionally met people who wanted to engage him in a hostile way. Although he imagined before and during the walk of wanting to grab someone by the scruff of the neck if they dismissed climate change, he never does that. He always tried to find common ground in every interaction while holding on to his conviction that we must act on the climate crisis.
From his courage of taking this long journey by foot and his open heart when encountering people, it felt like even the most hard core climate contrarians seemed like they still found a way to like, help, and even admire David. He found other ways to relate to folks when the conversation of climate change was a non-starter. His audacious walk and friendly interactions gave climate doubters a positive perspective that they do not experience when global warming is mentioned on TV or the radio. Thus, he does become a good ambassador for caring for our planet during his trek.
From his many interactions, David learned a new faith and optimism for humanity. He witnessed enough good, caring, concerned and open minded people like him that we just may avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
David's experience reminded me of a quote from Julia Butterfly Hill. She is best known for having living in a 180-foot (55 m)-tall, roughly 1500-year-old California Redwood tree, affectionately known as "Luna," for two years between December 1997 and December 1999. Hill lived high up in the tree the entire time to prevent Pacific Lumber Company loggers from cutting it down. Julia documented that experience in another book I recommend reading, The Legacy of Luna. The second book wrote by Julia, One Makes a Difference, she proclaimed:
"Eternal optimism joined with loving action is the most powerful tool I own."
Even if I not able to personally walk across country, David's bold action gave me optimism that one person (I) can make a difference. Even more, his journey showed that people do have enough good and generosity inside of them that we can reduce the threat of climate change.
David, thank you so much for writing this book.
Anyone who has travelled by land from Massachusetts to Ohio will enjoy David’s tales of his 1000 mile walk. In an age where few walk to the grocery store it is almost inconceivable to imagine walking through four states. He faced many challenges finding food, shelter, replacement parts, laundry facilities, and a safe route for his two month trip, as well as battling insects and sore feet. His descriptions of the many trails travelled and his tales of camping exploits whetted my appetite for similar adventures. All in all it’s a story well worth reading.