|Dear EarthTalk: What is “Moms Clean Air Force” and how can I get involved?|
|— Betsy Edgewater, Salem, OR|
Moms Clean Air Force (MCAF) is a community of 400,000+ parents working to combat air pollution and respond to the climate change crisis. The fast-growing non-profit leverages the power of citizen activism and social media to help raise awareness of the need for stricter laws regulating air pollution.
“Moms will do everything they can to keep their children safe and sound,” reports the group. “We look for the healthiest foods we can afford; we avoid toxic chemicals in our products. But there are some things we simply can’t buy. Clean air is one. We need job-creating regulations to assure that our children have clean air right now, and for their future.”
The group’s online “Naptime Activism Center” features links, resources and a ‘Take Action’ center with ways to send messages to Congress and sign petitions for stricter environmental laws. The website is designed to make it easy and fast for busy parents to make their voices heard—all while baby naps.
Currently MCAF is focusing on blocking efforts by lobbyists who represent big polluters that are trying to roll back new air toxic standards and prevent federal agencies from maintaining air and water quality standards. The group warns that toxic air-borne emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, lead, dioxins, volatile organic compounds and other pollutants are poisoning the air we breathe and wreaking untold havoc on the health of younger people whose bodies are still developing.
Cleaning up coal-fired power plants, the primary source of toxic air emissions across the country is a top priority for MCAF. “American coal plants produce 360,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants every year, at a time when nine million U.S. children under 18 have been diagnosed with asthma,” the group reports, adding that asthma attacks triggered by air pollution is the number one reason kids miss school. Another concern is the mercury coming out of coal plant smokestacks: “Over 400,000 newborns in the United States are exposed to mercury levels that can damage brain development, cause learning disabilities, result in language disorders and memory problems, and impair vision and hearing.”
On the climate front, the group’s new free 23-page e-book, Extreme Weather & Our Changing Climate, aims to educate parents about the links between our increasingly crazy weather patterns and global warming. “The more informed we are, the more effective we can be in pushing for change,” MCAF reports. Easy-to-read sections explain how climate change and weather are related and how parents can spread the word about the need for stricter laws regulating air pollution and more diligence in reducing our collective carbon footprint.
Visitors to the MCAF website can fill in their names and send messages directly to their Congressional delegations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other policymakers about strengthening protections against smog pollution, uniting for a strong plan against global warming, ending tax breaks for fossil-fuel producers and stopping the Keystone XL pipeline.
“Sometimes being a good mom means being an active citizen,” the group reports. “Our children can’t fight for themselves. We have to fight for them.”