mama summit2This speech was written and presented by Lisa Bardack of WordsForABetter at the Mama Summit on March 19 in Annapolis.  Solar Energy World thanks Lisa for allowing us to share her heart-felt speech on our blog.

“It is an honor to be here today, to be working with the fabulous Moms Clean Air Force, to be here with all of you in the name of a safe and viable future for our children and future generations.  I have believed for a long time that the voices of mothers – and fathers and grandparents and our beloved children – are essential in shifting our society away from practices that contaminate our world. Today proves that.

For over a century, we have used fossil fuels to power our lives.  The intention was good at first, seen as progress, as an industry that could both stimulate our economy and make our lives better.  But with time, it became apparent that the extracting and burning of fossil fuels had a high price to pay, with hidden costs that cry out to be acknowledged and understood. Costs like the serious contamination of the sacred natural resources upon which all life depends.  The very air we breathe, the water we drink and bathe in, the soil in which we grow food.  These are the absolute basics that every child needs to live, and we must insist they be protected. We know now through science that fossil fuels are causing great harm to these resources, and therefore to our children and the families they depend on for support, protection and love as they grow.

mama summitI’m the mother of an amazing 11-year-old daughter, the stepmother of four young adults who I love with all my heart, and a soon-to-be grandmother.  I live in Baltimore, where I learned recently that two coal units just outside of the city – Crane and Wagner – are the largest sources of sulfur dioxide pollution in the nation and are the last two large coal burning plants in the Mid-Atlantic still without a plan to either install modern pollution-cutting technology or a commitment to retire their coal units. These coal plants threaten Baltimore area residents with sulfur dioxide pollution nearly four times the limit determined to protect public health. This is the air my children breathe, the air that hundreds of thousands of children in the Greater Baltimore area breathe, and I am not willing to accept this.

Today we have an opportunity to let our elected representatives know that we have good news!  Renewable energy is here for the taking!  Wind and solar energy, which does not fill our air with sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxides, Volatile Organic Compounds, particulate matter, all of which negatively affect the health of our children and their families – asthma and other respiratory illness, cardiovascular disease, birth defects, low birth weight, premature deaths and more. We tell our kids to get away from electronics and go outside and play, to get some fresh, clean air.  But the air is not clean.

We stand here today in Annapolis, one of the most vulnerable cities in the United States when it comes to sea level rise.  Baltimore, too.  And the sea is rising. Rising because of climate change caused in large part to the extraction and burning of fossil fuels.  Climate change is real, is happening right now, and we must do everything in our power to insist that policies favor energy efficiency and renewable energy in order to slow climate change down and lessen its powerful negative impacts.

mama summit 4I understand and honor that people are preoccupied with the need for a strong economy, as money is also essential to life as we know it. But we must redefine what the words “strong economy” mean.  If fossil fuel jobs result in poisoning our natural resources and children, is that a strong economy?   If this poisoning results in serious financial burdens to our healthcare system, is that a strong economy?  If parents can’t go to work because their children are sick and children can’t go to school because they are sick, is that a strong economy?

We have put a man on the moon. We are walking around with computers in our pockets.  Of course we can run our society on renewable energy!  And the sooner we get going the better.  We must let our elected officials know that the investment in and commitment to renewables must continue to steadily grow; that fracking is not an economic solution for our state given its proven toxic consequences; that green jobs can create a vibrant economy and await our embrace. Providing clean air, water and soil is our moral obligation to children and future generations. That is why we are here and why we will continue to speak up.  Together, we can do great things.  Thanks for being here to do just that today.”