This is Who I’m Fighting For: Standing Up for a Stable Climate and a Clean Energy Future for My Kid

Let me just get this out there for anyone who may be unaware– I’m no super mom. As a freelance writer and stay at home mom, I barely have time to get dinner on the table most nights and/or keep the floors to a minimum level of dog hair.

So when my mom came down from Vermont for a visit a while back and started asking me why I didn’t do more in Northern VA to raise awareness about climate change, I was like, “Me? Ms. Desperately Trying to Get the Laundry Folded? Who has time for that?” But then she sat me down with a few important articles and helped me see that the laundry could wait – because my kids’ future couldn’t.

This is who I’m fighting for. All of our kids and have a right to clean air, clean water and a stable climate. A 100% renewable energy future is the only way to get there. Our elected officials need to hear that this is what we parents demand!

She gave me an article in New Republic by 350.org founder Bill McKibben. In it, he explains that to have even a chance of staying below a global increase of two degrees Celsius (the upper limit set by the Paris Climate Accord), we can release 800 gigatons more CO2 into the atmosphere. But the data shows coal mines and oil and gas wells currently in operation worldwide contain 942 gigatons worth of CO2.

McKibben notes that the math problem this poses is simple, and it goes like this: 942 > 800. This means that we can’t even burn all of the fossil fuels we’ve already dug up – and we absolutely CANNOT try to dig up any more.

Adding to this problem is that greenhouse gas emissions come not only from CO2 from burned fossil fuels, but also from cow farts and pipelines. Yup, the second worst greenhouse gas behind CO2 is methane, which comes from mainly from cow farts and natural gas extraction. This is why people are perched in trees in southwest VA right now – to protest unnecessary natural gas pipelines being built there, which will lock us into ever rising greenhouse gas emissions for many years to come.

So even though I don’t think of myself as a go-getter, or even as having extra time, I knew I had to join in and do something. If climate change is left unchecked, superstorms will become more frequent, devastating forest fires will be the norm, sea levels will rise and cities will drown. And worse yet—winter, my favorite season, will cease to exist as we know it. And this is within the next 50 years!

All of this means that when my teenage girls are adults, they may have to think very seriously about whether bringing children into this world makes sense. At this point in my parenting career, I’m realizing that cute grandkids you can play with and then give back are the end-goal here, and that may not be realistic with the way things are going. That is an insane reality to have to face, and as 97% of scientists will tell you, it is very real. Climate change is the existential crisis of our time; perhaps of all time.

So what did I do after this mom-intervention? I immediately cut down on the amount of beef our family eats and joined NOVA Climate. I needed to find a way to lend my voice to the people protesting natural gas projects in Virginia and advocating for a clean, renewable energy future for our kids. Our first project was planning the Mother's Day Climate Rally last year. Now we're almost ready for our second annual rally, which will take place Sunday, May 6, 2018.

I love the Mother’s Day Climate Rally because it hails back to the original activist history of Mother's Day. The first idea for Mother’s Day began in 1870, when suffragette and abolitionist Julia Ward Howe was fed up with the ravages she witnessed during the civil war. Her Mother’s Day Proclamation called on mothers around the world to band together and outlaw war, to protect the future of all children.

Julia Ward Howe

Our Mother’s Day Climate Rally brings parents and children together to raise awareness about the greatest threat to our children’s future: climate change. It gives families and concerned citizens an opportunity to hear from our local and state officials about their environmental goals, and from youth climate advocates about the amazing work they are doing in our area. It’s also a great chance to learn about the region’s environmental groups and find out about advocacy and volunteer opportunities.

NOVA Climate members protesting pipelines at the VA DEQ offices

One of the best things about the rally is that it’s a way to do SOMETHING, even if you don’t have time to get more involved. If we all come out and spend the day in the sunshine, listening to music, talking about clean air and water for our kids, and letting our legislators and the press know that this means a lot to us, then this important message will spread. If more people understand how important it is, and make their voices heard, then eventually our elected officials will pass laws that make renewable energy easier to implement in Virginia. Only then can things change as quickly as we need them to in order to save our kids’ future from destruction.

I hope you’ll bring your family and/or friends out, and join us. If we band together in a peaceful way I know we can make a difference before it’s too late. We have to!

350 Fairfax co-leader and Rally planner Julie Kimmel enjoying the music with her daughter at the 2017 Mother’s Day Rally.

The Mother’s Day Climate Rally will be held at Veteran’s Amphitheater in Fairfax on Sunday, May 6, 2018 from 1:30 - 3pm (a week before Mother’s Day, thank goodness, because as far as I’m concerned, Mother’s Day needs to be spent eating brunch and hiking).

The list of speakers for this year includes environmental champion Virginia State Senator Chap Petersen and Delegates Elizabeth Guzman, David Bulova and Vivian Watts—each of whom are parents (and one grandma!) concerned for the future of all kids in the face of climate change—as well as David Meyer, mayor of Fairfax City and Dr. Timothy O’Mara, pediatrician with Virginia Clinicians for Climate Action.

You’ll also hear from Allison Kole, lawyer for Our Children’s Trust. Kole is representing 21 youth plaintiffs in the landmark climate change lawsuit against the U.S. Government, Juliana vs US. In addition, we have great youth speakers Emma Layton from Woodson High School for the Solar on Our Schools project, Dyana Jaye from Sunrise Movement and Erin Phillips, GMU Forensics Team.

You won’t want to miss these great speakers, as well as kids activities, music from social justice rock/folk band M4TR and lots of info from the event’s co-sponsors:

350 Fairfax; 350 Loudon; Chesapeake Climate Action Network; Climate Reality Project, NOVA Chapter; Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions; Herndon Environmental Network; Moms Clean Air Force; Our Revolution Arlington; Our Revolution Northern Virginia (Steering Committee); Sierra Club, Great Falls Group; Sierra Club, Virginia Chapter; Virginia Clinicians for Climate Solutions; Loudoun Progressives; FCDC National Affairs Committee.

Get more details and RSVP for the rally here!

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