Elizabeth Brandt from USA

I became a climate activist when I became a mother, eight years ago. As soon as I held my baby daughter, climate change had a much more personal meaning to me. I saw that climate change could rob my child of the bright and safe future I had planned for her. I started taking action with first my older daughter, and later my second daughter, because their futures hang in the balance.

According to the recently released IPCC report, climate change is accelerating. This historically hot summer could be one of the coolest of the next decades. As a parent, that’s heartbreaking. On a recent trip to my hometown in Washington State, I couldn’t help but notice all the ways the climate has changed the landscape in the last decade. The glaciers on Mount Rainier are visibly diminished, even from 100 miles away, the change is starkly apparent. A heatwave shattered all temperature records at home. Farmworkers, who endure hazardous conditions to harvest valuable fruit crops, picked cherries with headlamps at one in the morning to salvage the July cherry harvest. Low water levels and overly warm streams decimate salmon runs, which is bad news for anyone who likes fish, whether you’re an orca whale or a restaurant patron.

Last August and September the Pacific Northwest was covered by an impenetrable lid of wildfire smoke. I spent days looking for a way to help my sister Claire, who has asthma, get to a place with clean outdoor air or at least a place with air conditioning. The air quality map for Washington State was unrelentingly purple and red, indicating extremely unhealthy levels of air pollution. The closest place with good air quality was in Wyoming. That’s nearly a thousand miles from Seattle. The only feasible solution for Claire was staying in her home, taping shut the edges of her doors and windows, and eating only cold food as cooking can worsen indoor air quality in these conditions. It was hot in her apartment, and she had no way to cool her home without letting in the filthy air.

This is moving towards a new normal, but it’s not normal. It’s an unacceptable scenario for disproportionately impacted communities, for farm workers, for fishermen, and for our kids who should be able to play outside without having smoke sting their eyes. In order to prevent our worst case climate scenario, we must take strong action now to reduce pollution from fossil fuels. Climate change is disrupting our lives, so we need to disrupt our approach to reducing climate pollution. Bold action is needed.

I am Valencia and Natalia’s mom. I am also Field and Special Projects Manager for Moms Clean Air Force. I live in Maryland with my family.

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