“Mommy, What is Carbon?”

BY ON July 15, 2014
Maureen Reno and daughter, Satori at Play-In for Climate Action.

Maureen Reno and daughter, Satori at Play-In for Climate Action.

This was written by Maureen Reno:

When MCAF invited my daughter, Satori, and I to represent New Hampshire at its first PLAY-IN for Climate Action in Washington D.C., I was excited by the opportunity to teach my six year old a very important civics lesson. Like most lessons, Satori learns by asking a barrage of questions. During this event, however, she asked a couple pertinent questions that made this mamma proud.

Mommy, what is carbon?

Shortly after the PLAY-IN children’s events of yoga and parachute games, Satori was sitting on the Upper Senate Park lawn hiding between me and our New Hampshire poster – hiding from the crowds around us, from the noise of the press conference. In her silence, I should have realized that her mind was racing, but instead I took this as one of her moods. While we were listening to Senator Whitehouse’s speech, she looked up at me and asked, “Mommy, what is carbon?”

My heart soared in that moment because I realized that she was listening and understood enough to ask such a specific question. I explained that carbon is a building block of life on Earth, and one of the most important elements on our planet. We breathe it out, and plants breathe it in. But right now there is too much of it going into our atmosphere, and that is changing the atmosphere and the weather. Carbon is on of the many elements that are released into our air from power plants to produce electricity, run our cars and make lots of the stuff we buy. I also explained that we were about to march to visit our Senators and tell them how worried we are about the air we breathe. I also told her carbon released by polluters is causing climate change, and that is making children sick. For the first time I didn’t dumb things down. Again, she fell silent and looked at the ground for what seemed to be an eternity.

Mommy, will the Senators tell the polluters to stop putting carbon into the air and making kids sick?

As the afternoon waned, Satori led her new friends in a barrage of activities that would break the silence of the hollowed chambers of the Senate buildings, turning heads and inducing smiles as we went. Ignoring my constant nagging, Satori’s running down the vast marble hallways and playing under conference tables was her own version of civil disobedience. By the time she and another girl started a pillow fight, just as we entered Senator Shaheen’s office (the last on our list), I had given up hope of her paying attention during our meetings with Senate staff. Was the meaning of the day was lost on her? As we left our NH Senator’s office, Satori looked up at me and said, “Mommy, will they [the Senators] tell the polluters to stop putting carbon into the air and making kids sick?” Behold proud parenting moment number two!

The lesson I learned at the PLAY-IN was that our kids are listening and understand more than we give them credit. It’s too bad that some of our Senators are unable to see the connection between allowing unregulated carbon pollution and our children’s health.

Maureen Reno has been a MCAF-NH Supermom since 2012. She applies her education as an economist to fight for policies that help Americans choose renewable energy and energy efficiency as a means to a cleaner environment and energy independence. Maureen, her husband and daughter live in Derry, NH.


TOPICS: Activism, EPA, MCAF News, Motherhood, New Hampshire