“The planet is changing, and we are the ones changing it. So protecting the planet is our job.”
Those were the wise words of Emily Harrell, 18 years old, from Ohio. Moms Clean Air Force was invited to meet with Administrator Gina McCarthy in Washington, DC, to share our deep concerns over our changing climate, and tell her about our new campaign aimed at middle and high school students.
Fight With Your Moms — Against Climate Change
Young people are powerful messengers. It wasn’t too long ago that our children were teaching us why we had to use seatbelts, and stop smoking cigarettes, and start recycling. That’s why we are working with schools to include climate change in their curricula — and giving students an opportunity to make a difference.
We never stop with just the bad news about climate. Teachers are helping students understand that we can solve this problem, by cleaning up our energy supplies, cutting carbon and methane pollution.
Our moms — and their children — were amazing. Middle and High School students from Pennsylvania and Ohio talked about coal and greenhouse gas pollution; they mentioned how many of their classmates suffered from asthma.
We heard from Nicole Hernandez Hammer, a climate scientist who drove up with her family from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, to explain the alarming impact of rising seawater on freshwater reserves in South Florida. On her maps, projecting sea level rise in the coming decades, her community was under water.
We heard from Wendy Bredhold from Indiana, whose child could not play outside on the first nice day of spring because the air quality was so poor; she lives in an area surrounded by dirty old coal plants. She showed us a map of the US, and her part of Indiana was under a hot orange blob.
All those maps. What moms are showing: Climate change is hitting home.
The peril of climate change keeps me up at night, so I was thrilled to hear that people were sleepless in the Senate, too. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island organized an all night Wake Up Call to Congress. Moms visited the office of every Senator planning to stay up all night to talk about climate change, and delivered red tee shirts for the morning after. Our Twitter Wizard Anneka Wisker pulled her own all-nighter and live tweeted. You can see our coverage of the Senators’ wake up call here.
Sadly, only one Republican Senator participated — to represent Science Deniers. But we know Republicans are plenty worried. We–and especially our Republican members looking for leadership — hope they speak up constructively, soon.
Senator Jack Reed said something that was echoed through the evening: Our changing climate is “not just a challenge. It’s a huge opportunity.” That morning, Administrator McCarthy had said to the students, “New energy sources will bring all kinds of job opportunities for you. You are the leaders of the future. I am so glad you are getting ready — right now!”
It has been a bitter cold winter in the Northeast, with lots of snow in DC and Atlanta — and this has put science deniers into high gear. But the entire US is only 2% of the globe’s surface. Temperatures have hit record highs all over the world. When we were gathering in the hotel lobby to walk over to EPA, a young man came up and asked us about our group. “The climate has always changed,” he said.
True. But limited. Science Deniers want you to believe that warming is only natural, and has nothing to do with pollution. Data proves them wrong. The carbon and methane we are adding to our atmospheric blanket of greenhouse gases is speeding up the rate of change so fast that it will soon be out of control. We’ve enjoyed thousands of years of a stable, human life-enhancing climate. We are putting that at risk.
We are with Senator Blumenthal: “If we think globally, the planet never sleeps.” And neither do moms and dads, the world over, who want to keep our miraculous world safe for us and for our beloved children. Soon, the children will lead us. Let’s give them the chance.
Photos: Ted Fink Photography