PCT hiker raises funds for Citizens’ Climate Lobby | TheUnion.com

PCT hiker raises funds for Citizens’ Climate Lobby

Dierdre Henderson
Special to The Union

TRUCKEE — Sporting his trademark "Make Earth Cool Again" baseball cap, Steve Ghan stepped off the Pacific Crest Trail near Donner Summit on his way to a hot shower and dinner hosted by volunteers from the North Tahoe Chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby.

Ghan, who retired in June as a climate scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy's Northwest Laboratory in Richland, Washington, is hiking 1,500 miles of the trail to raise funds for Citizens' Climate Lobby and spread its message as he goes.

He was greeted last Wednesday by Janet Atkinson, Greg Booth, Deirdre Henderson and Diana Hitchen of the North Tahoe climate lobby chapter, who arranged an impromptu picnic dinner for him overlooking Donner Lake at West End Beach.

Ghan had hiked the Washington state portion of the trail with a buddy when he was in high school.

This time he is hiking for a cause.

"At the age of 16, it was a coming of age experience for me," he said. "I set my sights on hiking all of the PCT. Four decades later, I look forward to realizing that dream."

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With a purpose

Citizens' Climate Lobby is a grassroots, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that builds political will to spur congress to adopt national climate solutions. Specifically, it focuses on its market-based carbon fee and dividend proposal, which places a gradually increasing fee on fossil fuels at the point where they enter the economy (at the mine, well head, or the border) and returns all of that revenue to American households as a monthly dividend. Independent economic modeling of this policy concludes that it would grow the economy, create jobs, save lives from the harmful health effects of carbon pollution, and dramatically reduce carbon emissions.

Ghan, who founded a chapter of the climate lobby in Washington state five years ago, spread the word about his planned hike to the more than 400 climate lobby chapters around the country and asked for sponsors to pledge to give the organization a minimum of two cents per mile for every mile of the Pacific Crest Trail he completes. So far, he is set to raise more than $11,000 in pledges if he completes all 1,500 miles. In return, his sponsors have access to the trail blog he writes about his adventures.

On the shore of Donner Lake, as he shared a vegetarian feast with the North Tahoe chapter members, Ghan said that his hike through northern California had been disrupted by wildfires, and many of the vista views he hoped for were limited by dense smoke plumes. "I am entering the most beautiful part of the PCT now and hoping for clear, beautiful views," he said.

Making impressions

Ghan's "Make Earth Cool Again" baseball cap has spurred a lot of interesting conversations about climate change during his journey. No stranger to giving presentations about climate science, Ghan expanded his message after joining the climate lobby.

"I … include and often focus on the carbon fee and dividend solution," he said. "I have found the public is more accepting of the science when also presented with a practical solution."

Truckee resident Janet Atkinson, who recently became the co-leader of the North Tahoe climate lobby chapter, reflected on the evening with Ghan.

"Steve kept asking questions, wanting to know about our CCL chapter. He was the embodiment of Citizens' Climate Lobby, with his respectful and patient demeanor," said Atkinson. "Though he sees the world through the lens of a climate scientist, he wants to talk to people about how they are dealing with the effects of climate change. It amazed me that after walking so many miles, he was very focused and eager to help our CCL chapter promote the top climate solution of carbon fee and dividend. I wish Steve well and thank him for hiking on behalf of Citizens'' Climate Lobby."

Anyone interested in supporting Steve Ghan's hike for Citizens' Climate Lobby can email him at: steven.ghan@gmail.com and then can follow his adventures via his weekly trail blog at SteveGhan.wordpress.com.

Dierdre Henderson is the chapter chair for the North Tahoe Chapter of Citizens' Climate Lobby.

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