Activist Who Walked Barefoot To Raise Awareness Of Climate Change Killed By SUV
Mark Baumer, an environmental activist who was hiking barefoot across America to raise awareness of climate change, has died after being hit by a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV).
Thirty-three-year-old Mark was a hero. He set himself the challenge in October last year and, as well as using it to increase awareness, he was also raising money for the FANG Collective - a Rhode Island-based charity that supports a non-violent resistance to the natural gas industry.
Mark's death was confirmed by Florida Highway Patrol after he was hit by a Buick SUV on the side of Highway 90 in Walton County. He was pronounced dead at the scene. It was the 101st day of his journey.
He wasn't planning on walking through Florida, however, due to snow in Ohio he took a bus to Jacksonville to carry on with his challenge.
Throughout his barefoot-walk he wore a high-visibility vest, so he was easier to see for drivers.
FANG Collective has since shared a touching post:
Mark kept his followers up to date with his trip via blogs, photographs and videos. Hauntingly, his last ever photo upload was of a road with the word 'killed' and an arrow spray painted in bright yellow.
Credit: Mark Baumer
On his website, Mark wrote that he didn't know how long the journey would take him but that he was hoping to raise at least $10,000 (£8,029) for his cause.
Following the news of his death, there has been an influx of donations to his fundraising page. The total at the time of writing stands at $14,412 (£11,572), smashing his goal by more than $4,000 (£3,212). It's been shared almost 2,000 times and has been flooded with heartfelt messages from donors.
Why Did Mark Baumer Want To Do This?
On his website, Mark wrote: "I am crossing America barefoot to save earth. Climate change is the greatest threat we've ever faced as a civilization. A lot of scientists agree. I am not a scientist. I am a poet. I am also a regular human being. Before I began crossing America I worked in a library in Providence Rhode Island."
You don't need to listen to me, or Mark, to know that climate change is a huge threat to our planet. A number of scientists agree that, yes, climate change is happening and, yes, most of it is because of humans.
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2016 was the warmest year on record globally, and this is part of a worrying, ongoing trend. Independent research from NASA shows that it was the third consecutive year to set a new record for global average surface temperatures.
The former US president, Barack Obama, did more to try and combat climate change than any other president, and he claims that during his two terms the 'majority of Americans have come to believe that climate change is real'. However, believing in it and doing something about it is not the same thing.
One of the biggest challenges climate change groups, such as FANG Collective, face is lack of funds, particularly when facing off against some of the biggest and most powerful companies in the world.
Mark wrote that he felt he 'needed to act'. Like Obama, he believed that climate change was the greatest threat to our planet and humanity. Via his blogs and videos, he tried to inspire people to get up and act on climate change. He wrote: "You have more power than you believe. We can save this planet."
This wasn't the first time Mark decided to walk across the US. Six years ago, he made a similar trek. It took him 81 days, however, for that challenge he wore shoes. During that journey he also kept a blog and went on to write a book called 'I am a Road'.
So, in some ways, Mark knew what the challenge would have in store for him. In other ways the journey really took its toll. Along the way, he took several pictures of his feet, showing the damage that walking on the roadside was doing.
He carried a small backpack and kept to a vegan-diet. He believed a plant-based diet would help him recover more quickly. He wrote that his goal was 'to stop the earth from dying because of climate change', which is obviously a pretty big ask from one man but if his actions go on to inspire others who knows where it could end up?
By choosing something simple, like walking barefoot, Mark was able to keep his costs low and, while he was out walking, he could stop and talk to the members of the public to spread his message.
Walking barefoot managed to attract attention to his cause in every town and city he walked through. As well as being a big hit on social media, he also conducted interviews with local media. As far as raising awareness, Mark did a pretty good job. I mean, here I am writing about him, and here you are reading it.
You can donate to Mark's cause here.
Or you can find out more about climate change here. Alternatively, you can read our series on the subject and have your say on the impact on our planet.
Featured Image Credit: Instagram/baumerworld
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