Step It Up 2007


"Keeping the heat on

With a soaring thermometer in recent months bringing home the reality of global warming, Saturday’s Step It Up rally promises to keep the heat on politicians.

Step It Up 2007 began with a National Day of Climate Action on April 14, when author Bill McKibben mobilized activists in all 50 states. Like the first rally, Saturday’s National Day of Climate Action will again call on political leaders to do their part to end global warming.

Indianapolis Climate Action Network, formed at the initial local Step It Up rally, has spent the intervening months surveying local political candidates on issues of sustainability and climate change. (Results are available on their Web site.) Now the group is back with another rally and a goal of imparting hope to citizens — and a challenge to politicians.

Speakers include Dr. Kevin Gurney, a Purdue climate scientist and co-recipient of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Calling for “real leadership” on global warming, the event emphasizes three priorities: no new coal plants, an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2050 and 5 million new “green” jobs.

Event organizers note that Indiana ranks 48th of 50 states in environmental quality. This dismal ranking is nearly matched by that of Indianapolis, the ninth most polluted city in the country, according to the American Lung Association. High levels of ozone and particulates lead to countless health problems among citizens.

Organizer Tom Hougham says the state can do better. Moving from coal-fired plants to wind and solar power would not only clean up the atmosphere and improve Indiana residents’ health, it would be good for business as well. “We in Indiana have got lots of engineering schools, and they should be developing the next level of solar- and wind-powered technologies, energy that is truly renewable,” he says.

He cites the number of manufacturing jobs going elsewhere as additional incentive to bring the technologies home. Construction workers could find gainful employment in a green job if industry would get on board, he says.

Hougham hopes the rally sparks a “critical mass” of knowledgeable people demanding change. “Once people ask for it, industry follows through.”

Between musical segments, speakers ranging from religious leaders to activists to scientists will put forth the case for policy change. Joe Shoemaker of Casa Verde Builders will speak to the prosperity possible in green jobs. The rally will close with a segment on local efforts, including speeches from some political candidates.

Information about individual steps people can take, such as insulating homes and upgrading to energy efficient appliances, will be available along with information about local community initiatives. According to organizer Ed Cohen, the impact of communities cooperating together for a greener future can’t be underestimated.

Hougham states, “One thing that we hope people take home is some hope. You hear so much negativity about climate change and people tend not to come up with proactive ways to deal with climate change and the causes of it.”

The rally will give citizens “something to shoot for,” he says.

What: Step It Up 2007 National Day of Climate Action

When: Saturday, Nov. 3, 2-4 p.m.

Where: Broad Ripple Park

More information: and