Written by Ronnie Citron-Fink
We were so excited when the team at Climate Parents approached Moms Clean Air Force and asked us to co-sponsor a rally and billboard in Denver before the first presidential debate. Our collective goal was to send the strong message that parents want to know what the presidential candidates’ plans are to tackle the climate crisis and lead this country into a new era of energy-efficiency. Lisa Hoyos, from Climate Parents graciously provides a wonderful recount of the event:
On Monday afternoon, two days before the presidential debate, dozens of Colorado parents and kids gathered in the heart of downtown Denver to call on the presidential candidates to explain their plans to reduce fossil fuel emissions, rapidly scale up clean energy, and protect our children from the climate-change fueled fires, floods and storms that are increasingly wracking our nation. The rally, sponsored by Climate Parents and Moms Clean Air Force— and supported by groups like the 350.org action fund, the Alliance for Climate Education and the Sierra Club — featured the unveiling of a colorful billboard picturing a young girl asking presidential candidates, “Which way will you lead us?” — toward climate crisis or climate solutions?
As a parent of four- and a seven-year-old boys, climate change looms large in my mind as a serious threat to their future. I’ve talked to enough parents who feel the same way to understand that we’re a constituency primed to be more actively engaged in fighting climate change. Standing underneath our billboard in Denver, I felt a strong sense of hope and possibility, mostly inspired by the wisdom of the kids participating in our event. A Colorado high school senior, Tehya Brown said, “As a first time voter, my vote will go to the candidate who displays the greatest and most genuine concern for clean energy, sustainable jobs, and environmental education.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Xiuhtexcatl Martinez, whose climate activism career spans half of his twelve years. He crystallized the message of our rally when he said, “The survival of our generation is at stake because of the lack of action on climate change. Neither of the candidates are taking climate change seriously, and it’s the biggest threat we face as a human race.” After throwing down that level of wisdom, Xiuhetexcatl and his little brother Itzcuauhtli proceeded to perform two climate-themed rap songs they wrote themselves.
While the emotional power of these young people’s voices was unmistakable, our gathering of parents and kids was not short on political analysis. We talked about the billions of dollar spent by the coal and oil lobbies to keep us dependent on oil and gas, and to slow the shift to clean energy that our country and our climate so desperately need. We talked about this corporate influence being a prime reason that Governor Romney mocked even caring about climate change in his convention speech. And we discussed why President Obama — who clearly understands the threat climate change poses — still promotes an “all of the above” energy strategy that includes expanded oil, gas drilling and even so-called “clean coal.”
August. From one mother to two fathers, what will you do to protect
our mountains?” ~ Pamela Campos
Anyone who has spent time in Colorado this year knows that the dangers of climate change are here and now. Which is why, Pamela Campos, a representative of Moms Clean Air Force, while holding her three-year-old, aimed a question directly at President Obama and Governor Romney, saying, “My son and I watched the fires burning our mountains in August. From one mother to two fathers, what will you do to protect our mountains?”
Peter Sawtell, the father of a grown son and an ordained minister who serves as the Executive Director of Eco-Justice Ministries, told the crowd, “People always say we should think about what kind of world we want to leave to our kids. We need to flip the premise and ask what kind of world do our kids have the right to expect from us?…I will vote for the candidate who demonstrates he really takes that question seriously.”
It’s fair to say that everyone over the age of six who rallied at our billboard knows that we’ve got an uphill battle on our hands, and that our success depends on a sense of urgency at every level of government. We also acknowledged that we’re still waiting on the presidential candidates to outline their comprehensive plans to fight climate change. The debate cycle gives them three opportunities to accomplish that task.
In the meantime, Climate Parents, Moms Clean Air Force and our allies will keep keep pressing the candidates to give us their plan to end the climate crisis. It will only work if thousands join us, so please add your voice and help us build a base of parents large enough and powerful enough to move the political needle on climate change.
Photo credit: Drew Carlson