“What do we want?” … “Clean air!” … “When do we want it?” … “NOW!” … chanted young and old together in a show of a strong commitment to the simple idea that clean air and protection from carbon pollution that causes climate change is just too important to be a partisan issue. Our collective climate challenge is first and foremost about the healthy survival of the most vulnerable among us. Any decision-maker who denies climate change facts is missing the point. As the Moms Clean Air Force button says, these climate concerns should be “Mompartisan.” Moms from all walks of life get it, so why doesn’t Congress?
New mom Emily Palmieri brought 9-month-old son Sebastian to the park for the PLAY-IN for Climate Action. Palmieri said she heard about the Moms Clean Air Force event through a DC moms’ playgroup she attended because, “I’m concerned for his health.”
Stay-at-home mom Kelly Nichols brought her 2 ½-year-old twins from Chicago and pushed them in a stroller so they could keep up with the large group that marched outside the US Capitol demanding protection for children from climate change. Her sister who struggles with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and her young children’s vulnerability to air pollution, inspires Nichols to demand clean air for everyone. She shared, “I’d do anything for my children and the planet.”
Nurse Katie Hempfling with the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments noted the connection between pollution-induced ground-level ozone and increased breathing challenges, particularly for children with developing lungs. “Our kids should be able to run and play outdoors without worrying that they won’t be able to breathe,” Hempfling stated.
Heather Clark, whose creative idea inspired the Play-In, wanted this event to give parents and kids the chance to be heard. Clark designs sustainable communities at her studio, Biome Studio. Clark told the Play-In crowd that newly proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules to cut power plant carbon pollution need support in Congress in order to not become undermined. She also spoke in hopeful terms that solutions are at hand, “We need Congress to stand behind those of us who are more than capable of solving climate change.”
Senator Barbara Boxer from California spoke to gathered parents, sharing that her roles as mother and grandmother are significant influences on her appreciation of carbon pollution as an urgent health matter. Asthma, COPD and other heart-lung diseases are at troubling rates throughout the country. Thousands of lives could potentially be saved by the proposed new EPA pollution rules. “If we ignore pollution from carbon we are walking right into a death trap!” Boxer said.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island also addressed the crowd, noting so many Kids Clean Air Force shirts. He encouraged moms to realize their power to influence public policy for good when we stay informed and active with Moms Clean Air Force. Whitehouse said “big polluters” are doing more than ignoring the preponderance of climate change research. He accused them of using massive wealth and influence to block urgent public health measures related to carbon cleanup. Sen. Whitehouse summed it up, “We have those same big polluters who are polluting our democracy…my money is on the moms.”
Photos: Anne Brock