This is an exclusive Moms Clean Air Force interview with Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter
MCAF: What is unique about protecting Philadelphia?
Mayor Nutter: Every city has its own unique set of challenges. For Philadelphia, we are particularly concerned about an increased number of high heat days and flooding. Being sited between two rivers – the Delaware and the Schuylkill – means that we also need to be thinking about the impact of storm surges along the rivers.
As a parent are you worried about the effect of climate change on your children and the kids in Philadelphia?
Absolutely. It’s no secret that those of us in elected office think (and talk!) all the time about making things better for the next generation. That is something that I am deeply motivated by: what can I do in my position to set Philadelphia on a positive trajectory? When I think about climate trends that very well may put public health and the health of our local environment at risk, that is deeply disconcerting to me. Already too many young people struggle with asthma. What would higher temperatures and more ozone action days mean for asthmatic kids in the future?
There are many scenarios like that that worry me. Climate change presents a number of serious quality of life considerations that we all need to be focused on. But in the doom and gloom there is a great opportunity to do something. We can reduce energy use and greenhouse gas emissions and create more green space and plant more trees to manage stormwater…the things that we can do now will not only make us more resilient, but will also help to create the kind of city we want to hand over to our children.
Why is a bipartisan effort so important in addressing our changing climate? How can these efforts be achieved in a politically polarizing culture?
Climate change will affect every community, regardless of how it votes or which party represents it, so we need to work in a bi-partisan effort. As more communities realize firsthand the effects of extreme weather – from the Jersey Shore last year to the tornado stricken towns of Illinois this year – we will continue to see public opinion shift and the political tides will no doubt follow. We don’t have time to waste disputing facts anymore, it’s time to come together to take action on what I believe is one of the most critical issues of our time.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with Moms Clean Air Force’s members?
Just because we hear a lot about the gridlock in Washington on this issue doesn’t mean that nothing is happening. Cities all across the country are taking the lead and are moving forward to implement both climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives. Thank you Moms Clean Air Force. You’re doing great work, but please don’t let up on your outreach. We need advocates like you to keep the pressure on so that public support continues to fuel government action. Thank you, Mayor Nutter!
About Mayor Michael A. Nutter: Recently re-elected to his second term as Mayor of his hometown, Michael A. Nutter has set an aggressive agenda for America’s fifth largest city – devising the City’s innovative school reform strategy, vowing to strengthen community policing through Philly Rising, a unique partnership between vulnerable neighborhoods and the City, and continuing to implement the nationally recognized GreenWorks Philadelphia initiative that is helping to make the City of Philadelphia become the greenest city in America.