Mother’s Day is an op­por­tu­nity to step into ac­tion

A grow­ing group of Cal­i­for­nia moms are fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Ju­li­aWard Howe

The Mercury News Weekend - - OPINION - By Lin­daHutchins-Knowles and Stacy Levy Linda Hutchins-Knowles and Stacy Levy are co-founders of Moth­ers Out Front South Bay.

Mother’s Day is un­der­stand­ably a time when many moms re­lax, as their part­ners or kids serve them break­fast in bed and pam­per them for the day in ap­pre­ci­a­tion for all they con­trib­ute.

How­ever, for a grow­ing group of Cal­i­for­nia moms, Mother’s Day is a time not to kick back but rather to step into ac­tion. Fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Ju­lia Ward Howe, whose fiery procla­ma­tion launched a Moth­ers’ Peace Day in 1870, they are re­claim­ing the orig­i­nal pur­pose of the hol­i­day as a call to ac­tion for moth­ers to pro­tect all chil­dren.

Howe fo­cused on the threat of war, but these moms are fo­cus­ing on an even big­ger, more in- sid­i­ous threat: cli­mate desta­bi­liza­tion. Aware that more than 97 per­cent of the world’s cli­mate sci­en­tists agree con­clu­sively that cli­mate change is oc­cur­ring and is driven largely by hu­man ac­tiv­ity, these moth­ers are mo­bi­liz­ing to pre­serve a liv­able cli­mate for all chil­dren.

They know that if we con­tinue to burn fos­sil fu­els at cur­rent rates, we will cross ir­re­versible tip­ping points lead­ing to danger­ous sea level rise, ex­treme weather events, wild­fires, the spread of dis­ease, drought, food shortages and wars over scarce re­sources. Not the kind of world we want to leave to our kids, is it?

So what are these moth­ers do­ing about this threat? In a word, they are or­ga­niz­ing.

Part of a pow­er­ful na­tional move­ment of moth­ers, grand­moth­ers and other care­givers called Moth­ers Out Front, they are driv­ing cli­mate ac­tion on the lo­cal level, bring­ing pres­sure to bear on elected of­fi­cials to has­ten a swift, com­plete and just tran­si­tion from dirty fos­sil fu­els to clean, re­new­able en­ergy.

Case in point: Last spring, the Moth­ers Out Front South Bay Team played a piv­otal role in con­vinc­ing the San Jose City Coun­cil to adopt Com­mu­nity Choice En­ergy — a cost-ef­fec­tive way to source our elec­tric­ity from more re­new­able sources. This spring, they have mo­bi­lized pub­lic sup­port for SB 100, the Cal­i­for­nia CA Clean En­ergy Act, which would ac­cel­er­ate the state’s tran­si­tion to 100 per­cent zero-car­bon en­ergy.

And now, Moth­ers Out Front around Cal­i­for­nia have en­thu­si­as­ti­cally joined the Brown’s Last Chance cam­paign, the non­profit coali­tion call­ing on Gov. Jerry Brown to be the true cli­mate hero he as­pires to be. While these moms ap­pre­ci­ate Brown’s tough talk on cli­mate change, they want to see tough ac­tion as well.

They know that Cal­i­for­nia is one of the top oil pro­duc­ing states in the coun­try and the only state to al­low oil drilling in close prox­im­ity to homes, schools, and other sen­si­tive sites with­out even a min­i­mum set-back re­quire­ment. They are alarmed that the state al­lows agri­cul­tural com­pa­nies to use oil drilling wastew­a­ter to ir­ri­gate crops, even foods la­beled or­ganic. And they are ap­palled by the en­vi­ron­men­tal racism that leads to oil drilling and re­fin­ing tak­ing place pre­domi- nantly in com­mu­ni­ties of color, caus­ing ma­jor health im­pacts on al­ready vul­ner­a­ble pop­u­la­tions.

So Moth­ers Out Front urge ev­ery­one who wants bold cli­mate ac­tion and en­vi­ron­men­tal jus­tice to sign a pe­ti­tion call­ing on Brown to use his fi­nal months in of­fice to take truly trans­for­ma­tional ac­tion on cli­mate. And they in­vite moth­ers, grand­moth­ers and oth­ers to par­tic­i­pate in the Global Day of Cli­mate Ac­tion on Sept. 8 in San Francisco and around the world.

Be­cause yes, flow­ers and choco­late are won­der­ful. But a healthy en­vi­ron­ment to­day and a liv­able cli­mate to­mor­row for all chil­dren? That’s price­less.

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