I’ve spent the last nine months giving birth to a new organization—really an act of incredible team gestation—called Moms Clean Air Force. Labor took place on my kitchen table—and before I start hyperventilating, I’ll leave off the birth metaphors. Let me just say this work has been some of the most exhilarating I’ve ever done.
I’ve been meeting moms from across the country. Moms—Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Apoliticals, at least until now—who are fed up with the status quo. Sick of dollars first, babies second. Moms in Alabama who don’t want to make a choice between jobs and their children’s health. Moms in Ohio who are alarmed by research linking behavioral issues to air pollution. Moms in Arizona making emergency room runs with asthmatic children. Moms in Pennsylvania outraged that the shale rush is fouling their skies. Moms in Michigan who want their teenagers to have job opportunities in clean energy—without having to leave their home state. Moms in New Hampshire who just want to eat tuna fish again. Moms in Dallas who are worried about that brown bubble of smog over their homes.
We are moms who don’t believe the science deniers. We deny that the situation is hopeless. We can do something about climate change. We respect science—and doctors—and we listen when they warn us of danger. We know exactly who is going to be around to suffer the impacts of extreme weather that will make today’s headlines about floods, droughts and heat waves look quaint. Our little ones. The loves of our lives. We know that the crazy stuff we are seeing today is just the beginning of global warming. And it is already bad enough.
Is all this terrifying? Overwhelming? You bet. Moms today feel like they have to be EPA, FDA, and USDA rolled into one. But we know it is impossible to “shop” our way out of pollution problems. There isn’t an air filter on the market that can protect us. Money can buy the right to pollute. But money cannot buy clean air.
Being a good mom means being an engaged citizen. The only way to get strong regulations is to demand them. Moms hear “pollution regulations” and we think, Good: Protection. That’s why, Republicans and Democrats, we have rallied around Administrator Lisa Jackson—the mom of a severely asthmatic son. She has done a historic job of enhancing the Clean Air Act. Her work will have a long legacy. We’re grateful for her vision and courage.
Do politicians really want to make their mothers angry? Most of us aren’t marching in the streets or getting arrested—yet. But we’re signing petitions, writing letters, meeting with our political representatives, and letting them know: Listen to your mothers. We share the air. Stop polluting it.
Mother Love is the original renewable. The supply is endless. We hope Washington gets a charge out of it.
Dominique Browning is the Senior Director of Moms Clean Air Force.