President Obama’s Plan on Climate Change Will Protect Children’s Health

(First posted at MomsRising)

I am breathing a little deeper tonight. Truly. Because we finally have someone who is standing up for public health in our country– in the face of big polluter dollars, power, and lobbyists.

And he just happens to be the President of the United States. 
Because there has been silence about climate change from our nation’s leaders for far. too. long.  World scientists have been sounding the alarm about climate change for years. Links to extreme weather, increasing air pollution, increasing rates of asthma and preventable deaths, more heavy metal pollution in our air, water, soils, and most recently, food.  All the while we’ve faced super storms, costing lives, homes, billions of dollars in recovery efforts. 
Today we heard with the urgency from a loving father preventing harm from his children:

“So the question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late. And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.

As a President, as a father, and as an American, I’m here to say we need to act.”

Just look at the power of parenthood to motivate action and change. That’s what we here at MomsRising are all about. 
The very essence of parenthood in this statement– and connecting to our collective legacy and the obligations we have to our nation’s children– is not something we normally see from our world leaders, especially when talking about the Earth. We here a lot about financial legacies. But what about the incredibly important intangibles? Clean air to breathe. Clean water to drink.  A safer, healthier planet. Not so much from our mainstream politicians. 
Dirty energy and polluters have had free reign on dumping carbon into the atmosphere for far too long– and we have seen the consequences for our health and for the planet. No longer. 

“Today, about 40 percent of America’s carbon pollution comes from our power plants. But here’s the thing: Right now, there are no federal limits to the amount of carbon pollution that those plants can pump into our air. None. Zero. We limit the amount of toxic chemicals like mercury and sulfur and arsenic in our air or our water, but power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of carbon pollution into the air for free. That’s not right, that’s not safe, and it needs to stop.”

It was powerful how President Obama pointed out that environmentalism used to be a bipartisan issue. It can be again. Everyone must work to protect the public health of our citizens– no matter what political beliefs we hold.  
The old argument – it will kill jobs!– just doesn’t hold water anymore. We must have a clean environment and a healthy economy– this are not mutually exclusive (they never were).  Just as all of nature is interconnected, so is our economy, public health, and climate. We must have success in all of these as a forward thinking, humane and healthy society.

In fact, public health is a primary goal of President Obama’s climate change plan. Climate change causes increased rates of asthma, higher rates of flooding, which damages our water quality, and excessive heat waves, which drives up food prices. Cutting carbon pollution will help keep our air and water clean and protect our kids.

To protect our families for the effects of climate change already in motion, President Obama’s plan will help states and local communities better prepare for climate related extreme weather. We’ve learned from experience that these preparations matter and can make all the difference to the lives of families in affected communities.

Lastly, President Obama’s plan has us taking the lead on climate change in the world, instead of taking a back seat. It’s time, as he said, to put our creative and innovative minds to work, and become leaders in clean energy that can drive our economy and protect our environment.  This leadership can inspire generations of creative problem solvers and move the world toward safer, cleaner energy. 

Like I said, I am breathing deeper tonight, because I know we have a public health defender in the White House, who is standing up to the giants– big oil polluters who want to keep billions in profit in trade for the public health.   And as it turns out, many are standing with him: many power companies, industries, health organizations, environmental groups, mega-retailers, and states.  
To our kids, President Obama said:

“I refuse to condemn your generation, and future generations, to a planet that’s beyond fixing.”

I refuse as well. Do you? 

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