On a Saturday last month, people all over the world got together for a climate action day – a day to express our deep concern about climate change, and to insist that governments and citizens everywhere, take action to reduce the amount of carbon in our atmosphere.
The Chesapeake Climate Action Network asked the Moms Clean Air Force to speak at their Annapolis “Rolling Rally” – a high-spirited bunch of bikers, roller skaters, skateboarders, and kids on scooters (including my two sons) at the Maryland State House.
I had the great honor of representing MCAF there. I’d never done anything like it before, and I was nervous, but getting up in front of these committed, engaged strangers was one of the greatest moments of civic engagement I’ve had.
Thanks, MCAF, for inspiring me to get involved!
From my speech:
I’m a mom, and a member of the Moms Clean Air Force, a national group fighting for clean air for our kids. I’m here today to talk about the health effects of dirty energy, and why wind works for our health.
How is Maryland’s air? Every year, the American Lung Association gives counties grades for their air quality. This year, ALA gave four fifths of Maryland counties a failing grade for ground level ozone, a very common and dangerous air pollutant. Counties that didn’t get F’s got C’s and D’s.
Maryland’s air is dangerous, especially to children, the elderly, and people who are already sick with diabetes or heart disease or asthma or other illnesses.
Where is this pollution coming from? It comes from cars, factories, and power plants. Power plants are a big factor in Maryland’s dirty air. Most of Maryland’s electricity comes from coal-fired power plants. And burning coal to make electricity makes our air dirty.
What are the health consequences?
- Ozone shortens people’s lives. People die, because of ozone.
- It causes asthma, triggers asthma attacks, and increases emergency room visits for asthma.
- It puts people in the hospital for pneumonia, and COPD.
- And along with other pollutants, it’s been linked to heart attacks, stroke, cancer, and even diabetes.
In Maryland, we know that 9% of children – that’s 123,000 children – have asthma. What does this mean?
- Kids are uncomfortable
- Kids are unable to sleep at night
- Kids are missing school
- Kids are going to the ER
- The parents of these children are missing work
In 2007, 43,000 Marylanders – adults and children, visited the ER for asthma. There were $32 million in charges associated with these visits. And the burden of asthma falls disproportionately on Maryland’s poorest.
So asthma is a big problem in Maryland, and rates of asthma are increasing. Meanwhile, asthma is only one of many air-related diseases.
If we clean up our air, some of this suffering and cost will be relieved. If we clean up our air, our kids, our grandparents, all of us will be healthier. Moving away from coal-fired power plants will clean up our air. Off-shore wind can help us get there.
We can’t afford to continue paying medical bills for asthma attacks, ER visits, and lung disease that are caused by something we know how to prevent.
We need to move away from dirty power. There is another way.