Society

Environmentalist Killed During Barefoot Walk Across US

| by David Bonner

A man who was hiking across the U.S. barefoot to raise awareness about climate change was struck and killed by an SUV on Jan. 21.

Mark Baumer, 33, who began his journey in October 2016, was walking on behalf of the FANG Collective, a Rhode Island organization opposed to the natural gas industry, reports the Daily Mail.

The activist was hit on the side of Highway 90 in Walton County, Florida, and pronounced dead on the scene, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. It was day 101 of his trip.

Baumer, who graduated from Brown University with a master's degree in 2011, was scheduled to arrive in California by May and aimed to raise at least $10,000, according to his YouCaring page. Donations poured following the news of his death, surpassing his goal by $7,000 by Jan. 23.

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He had walked across the country in 2010, but wore shoes on that trip, which resulted in the publication of a book, "I Am A Road."

"Something weird happens when you're in a car," Baumer observed in an interview with Vice. "I feel like your mentality changes. You're blocked off from the world, and you're like, 'Only I matter. Only where I'm going matters.'"

On his trek, Baumer posted poems along with pictures of his swollen feet on Instagram. He funded his trip thanks to a $5,000 poetry fellowship he was awarded by the state of Rhode Island.
 
"Mark was an amazingly compassionate, emphatic, humble, joyful, generous, mindful and caring person," said the FANG Collective in an online post. "He was a talented poet and artist with an ability to tap into the human experience with his work."

Baumer summed up his mission in an interview with the Tallahassee Democrat: "The big overall goal is raise awareness and fight climate change."  

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As defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, climate change "refers to any significant change in the measures of climate lasting for an extended period of time."

The EPA summarizes the basic facts on climate change:

Earth's average temperature has risen by 1.5 [degrees] F over the past century, and is projected to rise another 0.5 to 8.6 [degrees] F over the next hundred years. Small changes in the average temperature of the planet can translate to large and potentially dangerous shifts in climate and weather…. The planet's oceans and glaciers have also experienced some big changes -- oceans are warming and becoming more acidic, ice caps are melting, and sea levels are rising. As these and other changes become more pronounced in the coming decades, they will likely present challenges to our society and our environment.

Sources: Daily Mail, Vice, EPA / Photo credit: baumerworld/Instagram via Daily Mail

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