On Why I Care SO Much About Climate Change

Moms Clean Air Force director, Dominique Browning, opened the press conference, surrounded by 500 passionate moms, fathers, children, nurses, reporters all hoping to communicate our goal clearly and effectively!

A week ago, I woke up in a hotel room in Washington D.C. I was there to participate in the Moms Clean Air Force Play-in for Climate Change. I had left my home and gotten on a plane… two, in fact… to participate in this event. I haven’t flown in nine years due to an extreme fear and the lucky excuse of having small children who don’t travel well. Yet, there I was, miles away from home because the issue of Climate Change is very important to me.

I suppose I’m a bit of an anomaly. I’m Baptist. I’m Republican. I’m Ohioan. On paper, those three details do not make an environmentalist. But not shown on said paper is my background as a biologist. What does not show are the months/years I spent following around my ecology professor asking endless questions, reading studies and soaking in lectures. What you cannot see are the weekends I spent as a college student doing lake monitoring, cleaning up creek beds in Tulsa or recording data about the wetlands. And before, you don’t see the teenager pestering her Biology teacher to explain how micro-evolution works when species are exposed to chemicals in their environment.

Four years ago, I was introduced to Moms Clean Air Force. I had an infant and a toddler. I was terrified of driving in traffic. I was afraid of navigating Columbus to attend group meetings. But what I was not afraid of was calling up to the Ohio Senate and talking to staffers for my congressmen. I was not afraid to educate them, ask questions about their standing on coal fired power plants. And when the opportunity came to go and speak to these politicians in person came, I got in my car and drove downtown… during morning rush hour. As the years have passed, I’ve gotten to be involved in ways that my biology degree did not prepare me for… I blew my senior presentation despite having two semesters of oral communication classes as preparation. {Apparently, I talk at mach speeds when I’m nervous and have yet to really conquer that.} I’ve discovered how much I actually enjoy speaking in front of people. Especially when I get to talk about science.

That’s the thing. Climate Change is actually science. It’s not an excuse. It’s not emotional {although sometimes I get choked up talking about the effects of climate change on our children}. It’s not a hoax. And it most certainly is not something that is politically one-sided. We are all impacted whether we “believe” it or not. As I type, a series of strong storms are headed my way. Did you know that as the temperature on earth increases, it adds moisture to the air? The moisture in the air joins our water cycle {a favorite topic of mine, so if you have questions, I love to talk!} increasing the intensity of our storms. That being said, the next time a nasty storm heads your way, or the forecast shows snow for days, stop whining. Call your senators and ask them to consider their position on pollution. In addition to making our air nasty, pollution creates what could be described as a fuzzy blanket around the earth, trapping the heat and moisture.

It doesn’t matter if you in New York or Amish Country, Ohio. We are all impacted by the pollution in our air. Some to a greater degree than others {I’m looking at you China}, but it is incredibly foolish to think that just because we may not live in an area with poor air quality, we are not effected. Those particles are in the air and the air moves. And fyi: state boundaries mean nothing to particulates traveling on the breeze. So it’s time to stop pointing fingers and stand up. If you live in an area of good air quality, consider yourself lucky, but don’t forget about the children suffering from asthma who aren’t as fortunate you. Aren’t quite sure what all the fuss is about? Check out this page for plenty of info on health, climate change, pollution and extreme weather. Read up and educate yourself. Gather your friends and take a stand. And call me. I’ll stand with you!

Survival!

This is truly a “thank-God-it’s-Friday” sort of post. Except that after this post, I take a deep breath and then dive back in for a few more days. It is what it is, but I tell you that I am not an on-the-go sort of person and when I have a loaded calendar, I stress out. Is it awful that when my little woke up with stuffy noses, coughs and low grade temps this morning I breathed a sigh of relief because no one would want to be around us while I pumped vitamins and fruit? Probably, but I’m honest.

So here’s a quick catch up on the last week:

~ Soccer started! Soooooo exciting! And exhausting. Not so much for me, but for a certain 4 year old who is so wound up by the time drills are over he’s had a terrible time calming down for the actual scrimmages. Two practices this week and both days have ended in a tearful little boy who just can’t quite process all that emotion. I’m hopeful now that he’s back in the swing of things next week will go more smoothly.

~ Liam swam all by himself yesterday! I sat on my bench and cried. I’m SO proud of him! He’s doing great with the floatie, but this was the first time for him to swim from the wall to Miss Brooke and then back to the wall. Proud Mama!

~ I was in Columbus all day Wednesday for the Moms Clean Air Force Mama Summit. Excellent day, scary traffic. Whoo. I need to live in tiny towns for the rest of my life. However, as my BFF pointed out, I did it. I did what terrifies me by driving through a big city during rush hour AND meeting with our elected officials all by myself! Check me out setting examples for my children! ūüėČ

~ I’m working on the final newsletter for my MOPS group for this year. I love MOPS and the community it has created for me, but I’m ready for summer break. I have used the last two summers to read the books that go along with the theme and prepare myself for the written devotionals and newsletters. The theme for 2014-2015? Be you Bravely. I love it. And I think I’m going to treat myself to this tee as a prize for getting my Steering Team responsibilities done for yet another year!

~ I went to Old Navy last night after the kids were in bed. This mama had no shorts. No capris. Nothing for summer. Turns out, the more you run, the smaller you behind gets and it’s just not cool to your britches falling off as your daughter tugs on them to gain your attention.

~ I downloaded the Wudnerlist app to my iPad. There are big, pink, puffy, sparkly hearts in my eyes for this app. And the “swoosh” sound effect when I complete a task. Sigh.

~ It’s raining today and I couldn’t be happier. I ran out right before it started and cut huge bunches of lilacs for my house. Lilac is the sweetest spring smell ever.

~ I need to sew more dresses for Sylvi. I have been informed that pants are “ugly”. Good heavens.

~ Now, it’s a return to my chores and to-do list. Quiet time is over and Liam is anxious to stomp in the puddles. Sylvi is sleeping in her room, snoring away her congestion.

Come back tomorrow for an excellent gluten free apple cake just in time for Mother’s Day!

Betwixt and Between

I was asked to read the book Between God and Green: How Evangelicals are Cultivating a Middle Ground on Climate Change by Katharine K. Wilkinson for an article for Moms Clean Air Force. I jumped at the chance because a book written by someone that encourages Christians to get involved in caring for the planet is something I want to read for myself. Although not currently part of an evangelical church, I grew up in them and went to a very outspokenly conservative University. Although my parents did not raise me to be an environmentalist, my mother was a Biologist and certainly taught me to be amazed by the world around me. I’ve always been one of those people in awe of Nature and the power therein. Science makes me giddy and my poor students that have had to listen to talk for any length of time can certainly vouch for a more than appropriate infatuation with the water cycle.

In college, I was introduced to ¬†a wonderful group of Biologists within the department who cared about the environment. My Ecology professor, Dr. Korstad, ¬†instilled a sense of responsibility for Creation in my heart and since then, I’ve held the opinion that as a Christian, it’s our job to take the best care of the planet, the environment and all of Creation as we have been charged with responsibility in Genesis.

Over the years, I’ve realized that of all the lessons taught in Sunday School, Creation Care tends to fall to the bottom. And when bringing up the topic with others, regardless of denominational affiliation, it would seem that the emphasis on missions, appropriate hymns and scriptural interpretation wins out over responsibility to Creation. It’s frustrating for me have felt so in sync with some pretty serious evangelicals while in college on this topic only to move home and not be able to find much connection.

I started out reading the book in total awe that I know the people Dr. Wilkinson mentions! Dr. Korstad teaches summer courses at Au Sable Institute! As the book progressed, I found myself wanting to actually have lunch with Dr. Wilkinson and find out how she stays involved. For me, this book encouraged me to continue to be myself… a Christian concerned about Creation Care.

For the rest of my post on Moms Clean Air Force visit their site!

 

Community

Living in Ohio, I know first hand how a less urban community can be apathetic about environmental concerns. Moving back to Richland county after college, I was so discouraged to feel that I was the only one who cared. I’ve struggled with this discouragement for years, but eventaully found community through the internet and was content with the way things were. When I discovered Moms Clean Air Force last year, I was thrilled to have another resource for not only information, but support. When I realized that there was actually a physical office in Columbus, I felt bolstered in the hope that together we could bring change.

You see, I feel it’s incredibly important to keep ourselves involved with the world around us. It would be so easy for me to close the doors of my home and think that I’m not going to feel or see any of the effects of air pollution. I could look at my healthy children and say that there’s no reason for me to get involved since, clearly, it doesn’t apply to my life. But I can’t do that. I keep my environment too much to close my heart to say it doesn’t matter. So I soldier on, writing letters to senators and educating myself as best as I can.

Friday, I met with a small group of people in Mansfield. We talked Clean Air, Solar Power, Community Gardening, Fracking and Cooperation. I got to meet people who work for the Audubon society. I met leaders of the North End Community Improvement Collaborative. I learned about neuroscience. I heard from an involved member of my town on how to keep educating people about the pollutive effects of hydraulic fracturing. And I learned, I’m not alone.

The importance of the on the ground Moms Clean Air Force groups is that the involved mothers are really, truly not alone in their fight for clean air. I can pick up my phone and call Jenny anytime I need some ideas or encouragement when I’m trying to get a meetup together so we can introduce the Force to mother mothers. I can drive down to Columbus to sit in on any number of meetups that are discussing the issues at hand that Moms Clean Air Force is working to help us conquer. Getting involved and seeing the impact we can have on our Senator’s votes is so encouraging! It tells me that maybe the letters I wrote years ago didn’t necessarily reap the harvest, but maybe, just maybe they planted a seed.

If you’re like me, wishing and hoping for a connection to other mothers in Ohio who want the same clean, pure air for our children, get involved. Email us. We want to meet with you and help you educate your community. We are excited to help you write a letter of your own. We want to involve you in the work that we are passionate about. Contact Moms Clean Air Force Ohio and let us be part of your community today!

Community in a Columbus Coffee House

I’m always so thrilled to find other mothers who are as passionate about the same things as I am. ¬†Motherhood can be quite a challenge without having friends around you, but when you have passions that aren’t as mainstream as everyone else’s, well, allies are hard to come by.

Photo Credit: Jenny Confer Linn

Thursday, I made another trip to Columbus to meet with the ladies of Moms Clean Air Force Ohio, a few newly interested moms and Ben Famous, the aid to Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). ¬†It was a great session for questions and answers. ¬†For the second time in a month, I got to sit back and watch other mothers find their own passion. ¬†It’s just the most gratifying thing in the world to watch someone learn a new thing. ¬†The amazing part about being involved with a group that is on the ground is that you don’t have to wait for the page to reload to watch the changes in people’s lives. ¬†You can see it right in front of you.

Moms Clean Air Force is a community. ¬†Just by meeting these women, I’m making new friends, learning new things and finding other mothers who are as wild about the air we breathe as I am finding myself growing day by day. ¬†So Thursday, I got to sit in a coffee shop with my children and listen to Ben Famous talk about Senator Brown’s position on clean air. ¬†I got to be¬†re-inspired¬†and watch other mothers be inspired. ¬†And I loved every second.

An Open Letter to the 2012 Republican Candidate Hopefuls

This has been Cross-posted at Moms Clean Air Force Ohio

An Open Letter to the 2012 Republican Candidate Hopefuls:

Dear Sirs,

Every morning as I drink my coffee, I read the news updates on your preliminary campaigns and I’m so sad.  All of you are religious and conservative.  You’ve made your positions clear on issues like Abortion and National Debt and Education.  Not one of you agrees 100% with the other and that’s ok.  That’s why there’s a choice and how we decide who will be the best fit for our presidential candidate.  As time as passed and debates have been won, I feel a very limited sense of confidence in my potential Republican candidate.

I realize that since President Nixon’s¬†tenure, Republicans haven’t placed a high priority on the environment, but now is the time for change. ¬†NOW is the time in our ¬†country’s history that you need to stand up and make positive choices for our natural resources. ¬† These resources are all that we have to give our children for their future. ¬† These children are the future of our country!

Mothers all over the US are angry. ¬†We’re angry about the pathetic state of our air quality. ¬†We’re angry that our children suffer from asthma in¬†unprecedented¬†numbers and cannot live like children should live: enjoying their days, running and playing.

As a mother in Ohio, I don’t want my state to continue to be the most toxic state in the union. ¬†I don’t want to wake up on summer days and worry about the air quality being too poor for us to play outside. ¬†I want to be able to let my children enjoy nature without fear of toxins and pollution. ¬† Please hear our voices and take the time to revisit your positions on environmental issues. ¬†Take the time to truly count the cost of the Clean Air Act and see the long-term benefits. ¬†Consider the damage done if we ¬†throw away all that has been worked toward in the last 2 decades. ¬†Listen to us mothers, fighting for our children, their health and their world. ¬†If necessary, go against the party line and take a stand with us for our environment and for Clean Air.

I implore you to think about our children, your children, and their future. ¬† Remember as you debate over healthcare, that 1 in 5 Americans suffer from Asthma. ¬†This Asthma eats up billions of dollars in healthcare, causes thousands of missed days at school or work and sadly claims hundreds of ¬†lives each year. ¬†Asthma sufferers would be some the first people who could benefit from some consideration for our environment. ¬†Please consider the whole picture as you make your decisions and don’t write off the¬†environmental issues as ones that won’t really be worth your time. ¬†I promise you, that when it comes to Clean Air and our children, even the smallest issue is worth your time.

Sincerely,

Laura Burns (Mother of 2)

Clean Air for Ohio

I was a little reckless in college. ¬†Passionate. ¬†Opinionated. ¬†I was in love with environmentalism. ¬†I recycled regilously. ¬†I sent letters to politicians advocating change and supporting their eco-friendly decisions. ¬†The more I got involved, the more I wished I had time to change my major or even double major so I could just stay in the wonderful world of people who were as angry about pollution as I was. ¬†I went to college in Oklahoma where there are some significant issues with pollution and poor air quality. ¬†I truly enjoyed my weekends spent slogging around the Tulsa waterways picking up trash. ¬†I loved the people I met through those groups and recently, when I found my t-shirt from the Environmental Club I was VP of on campus and honestly wished for those days of¬†camaraderie. ¬† Since then, I’ve grown up and learned a lot about how to NOT turn people off when inviting them to join you in a cause. ¬† Also, I haven’t cornered anyone in my family with a non-reusable¬†drinking bottle and¬†demanded¬†they listen to my lecture on plastics in landfills and BPA and waste and …

I’m a mother now. ¬†I can’t engage a complete stranger in a debate about the evils of GMOs without consideration for my children. ¬†I want to be involved, but there are limited opportunities in my town. ¬†A few months ago, I was introduced to the group Moms Clean Air Force and started to educate myself a little bit more about the need for advocates right here in Ohio. ¬†Were you aware that based on air pollution data Ohio is the most toxic state in the entire country? ¬†That pollution is partly comprised of mercury. ¬†Ohio is home to 8 of the 100 top polluting factories in the US. ¬†I can’t say that I’m proud that the Buckeye state is number 2 in the nation for mercury pollution from power plants. ¬†There are millions of children in the US whose lives have been¬†devastated¬†by asthma; asthma which can be triggered by environmental¬†irritants.

As a parent, I don’t want this to be the future of my children, or my grandchildren. ¬†I want them to be happy and healthy. ¬†I want them to be able to continue to play outside daily, without fear of¬†poisoning. ¬†I’m not being dramatic, either. ¬†Sadly, more cancers and illnesses are being linked to the contaminated air we breathe. ¬†Mercury itself is a neurotoxin. ¬†This is why they always warn pregnant and nursing women to keep their¬†consumption¬†of tuna (and other fishes) low. ¬†Mercury accumulates in the fatty tissues of the body, like the brain, and slowly poisons it’s victims. ¬†Over 400,000 newborns in the US are impacted by mercury every single year.

Tuesday night, I had the extreme pleasure of spending time with Moms Clean Air Force OHIO! ¬†That’s right, we have our own¬†satellite¬†office in Columbus. ¬† I had met with Jenny (who runs the office and it’s contacts) in December and came away from our time amped up and excited to be more involved. ¬†When I got the invitation to the event on Tuesday night, I hunted down a sitter right away. ¬†On Tuesday, the 3 ladies from the Columbus office and MCAF’s founder Dominique Browning hosted an event to introduce Ohio mothers to the real issue at hand regarding air pollution. ¬†Fresh off the victory of new standards for mercury and air toxics standards¬†by the EPA, we are all bolstered with the hope that this is the first step for a better future for our children.

I loved this event. ¬†I loved spending time with the other mothers and hearing them ask questions. ¬†Listening to Dominique and Jenny speak was inspiring and empowering. ¬†There is nothing like real mothers speaking from their hearts to stir up your own emotions and passions. ¬†I am excited to continue to learn about the air quality in Ohio and get more involved with MCAF-Ohio. ¬†I hope that you, as readers and especially those here in Ohio take the time to read about MCAF and what we are trying to accomplish. ¬†Please consider signing up to be another voice to Congress asking them to stand up for our children. ¬†They are our joy and our future, let’s make sure they get to enjoy their lives in good health.

I’m a Concervative Christian and I want CLEAN AIR!!

Cross Posted at Moms Clean Air Force 

As a new mom, I was excited to visit play groups and moms
clubs to meet other mothers.  I wanted to
connect and be a part of something.  My
diaper bag was full of cloth diapers, a reusable water bottle and homemade
snacks.  When asked, I was honest and told
them my ecofriendliness isn‚Äôt a hobby, it‚Äôs a lifestyle.  As always, this raised eyebrows in my circle
of friends; conservative and Christian. 
Somehow, being environmentally conscious and possessing any religious
affiliation has become impossible.

When I surveyed the moms in my area about the level of
importance environmental issues played in their lives, the primary answer I was
given is that they just don‚Äôt consider themselves environmental.  They try to teach their children not to
waste, but when it comes to taking a stand for something like cleaning up the
air we all breathe, they‚Äôd rather leave it to the ‚Äúnon-conservative leftists‚ÄĚ. 

I understand that not everyone will have the same interests
or the same convictions, but in my opinion, if anyone should be above the curve
when it comes to protecting the Earth and our children, it should be those who
claim to have a personal relationship with God. 
If God created the Earth and all that inhabit it, isn’t it being
disrespectful to pick and choose what we are going to protect?  We spend so much time focusing on human
rights and yet gloss over the conditions in our world that silently threaten
the quality of our lives.

This is my Father’s world, and to
my listening ears
All nature sings, and round me rings the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world: I rest me in the thought
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
His hand the wonders wrought.  ~  Maltbie Davenport
Babcock

If you believe that God created the Earth, then you believe
that when he created our human bodies, He had a reason for everything he
did.  Take a moment and think about
respiration.  The respiratory system is a
delicate balance between the intakes of the air around us, the cleaning of said
air and the expiration of the CO2 our bodies don‚Äôt need.  Our breathing is not only vital our survival,
but also part and parcel of balance here on Earth.  Living animals (including humans) must intake
the oxygen in order to survive, expelling carbon dioxide as waste.  In the meantime, plants are doing the exact
opposite.  In doing so, we have a
constantly renewing balance in the atmosphere. 
Because of this balance, the oxygen is simply renewed and never
consumed.  This would lead one to the
conclusion that we’re essentially breathing the same air that the Earth was
created with, except now, through the years, it’s collected other chemicals
that no matter how hard our lungs and the stoma on plants work, never fully
gets scrubbed out.

I don’t want my children breathing air that is intentionally
polluted.  I can‚Äôt imagine any mother
wanting this.  But if we insist on
calling ourselves conservatives who have no interest in environmentalism, we
are signing away our voice by our inactivism. 
And when we make the decision to throw away that vote because it’s not
popular at church or the moms group or the grocery, we have no one to blame but
ourselves for wasting this chance we have to stand up for our children’s
future, regardless of our creed.

The air we breathe

On
this holiday weekend, I know many people in my area are heading up to
Lake Erie to celebrate with their families and friends.  There is an air
show and a few food festivals to enjoy.  I can’t help but wonder how
much local fish will be served at those food festivals, though. 
Recently, I wrote a guest post for Moms Clean Air Force
about how the air pollution around the lake has effected the fish I
grew up eating on sandwiches throughout the summer.  Even though I
really do strive to eat local foods in my daily life, I make a huge
exception when it comes to fish from Ohio’s lake.  

As
election season is gearing up here in Ohio, I’ve decided to ask the
hopefuls who knock on my door asking for my support some questions.  I
want to know why when I search for ways to get involved in my community,
there are very few ways to be involved in cleaning up our environment. 
There is an outstanding lack of clean energy in my area, a few solar
panels and wind turbines excepted.  So when the gentleman showed up on
my door a few nights ago asking for my vote in his bid to be mayor.  I
asked him point blank why we don’t seem to care about the air quality or
our carbon footprint.  He didn’t have an answer for me.  That was the
tipping point for me.  Since then, I’ve been on the phone with the
health department in my county, emailed the state’s health department,
the EPA and written several letters to my representatives.  I want my
children to be able to enjoy the air they breathe and the Earth we live
on, so I’m taking a stand and fighting with mothers across the country
for
better EPA standards and pure air for our babies. 
This holiday weekend as we celebrate our troops and the freedom they
fight for, I’m asking you to join us and fight for clean air for our
children.  Will you?