“Traveller, there is no path. The path is made by walking.” – Antonio Machado

I was lucky enough to have the chance to attend the 10th Annual RE-AMP Meeting in Chicago last week. Hundreds of advocates from across the Midwest came together to meet and talk about bold actions we can take to combat global warming. To protect our health and our Great Lakes from the threat of climate change then we must transform our energy future from the bottom up.

What’s RE-AMP and why should you care? Before RE-AMP, states across the Midwest were all working to fight climate change. In 2003, some folks got the idea that it would make sense to unite those efforts and the RE-AMP network was formed. Since 2005, it has grown to over 160 organizations and has made huge strides in combating climate change from Michigan to North Dakota.

As Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said during her keynote address at the meeting, “Climate change will not be solved by any single legislation.” So, although the fact that the EPA recently announced one of the strongest actions ever taken to fight climate change is a huge step forward, that alone is not enough.

It is only through courageous, transformative actions at the national, state, and especially local levels that we can protect ourselves.

It was inspiring and uplifting to meet countless volunteers and advocates who work tirelessly every day to find the best solutions to put a stop to global warming. Even more inspiring was learning that many of the people on the front lines making the biggest difference in the fight are everyday Americans – farmers, students, teachers, parents – doing whatever they can to help, despite often having the odds stacked against them.

Our voices are being heard and acted on across the Midwest. Just look at the work done by the volunteers of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) in Chicago. After a decade-long grassroots campaign, they were successful in closing two of Chicago’s oldest and dirtiest coal-fired power plants. In Michigan, public outcry led to the removal of massive piles of toxic pet coke from the banks of the Detroit River. Our cities and our utilities are listening to local residents’ requests for more renewable energy.

It is through the continued hard work of each and every Michigander that we will protect and preserve our natural resources for future generations. Whether it’s writing letters to your state and local elected leaders urging them to support renewable energy or voting to elect representatives that will work to protect our health and environment from climate change, your actions are what matter most because the greatest risk of all is to do nothing.

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