Earth Day... Mother's Day... every day counts as the oil spill disaster threatens to claim the health of our water, our fisheries, a major source of our food supply and the livelihood of countless people.
We must act now on comprehensive climate legislation with an integrated policy that will ensure that this and other possible future environmental disasters are fully paid for by the liable parties. We must have a cap on greenhouse gases but NO financial cap on the costs of cleanups and restitution so that polluters will be accountable for their actions. BP must incur all costs. No more slippery tactics to try to get out of their full financial responsibilities.
Below is a note by Hillary P., a mother in Louisiana, and member of the Alliance for Climate Protection, about the Deepwater Oil Disaster:
Yesterday, as I was driving my two young kids home, my five-year-old son pointed and said, "Mom, do you see that? Do you see that American flag? Why is it half-way down the pole?" I felt my eyes well up and a lump in my throat build.
I explained to my son that we put the American flag at half-staff because 11 men died when the oil rig exploded, that we were all very sad for those men and for the families of those men. I told him that now there is too much dangerous oil in the ocean and that it hurts the fish and other animals that swim and live on the shore. And I told him we have to be very, very careful about what we do and the decisions we make. As an attentive five-year-old, he dutifully replied, "Yes, we have to be careful. We don't want anyone to get hurt." My daughter chimed in, as she always does, "Me, too! Me, too!"
Being a mother (and let's be fair here, being a parent), means a lot of things. But it is with parenthood that most of us realize for the first time in a profound way that we are each of us responsible for more than ourselves and that much of what gives our life meaning precariously hangs in the balance.
How can we teach our children to be responsible beyond themselves and care for other human beings' welfare and for the welfare of the planet and all that it contains? It's a difficult lesson to convey, when, more than 20 years after the Exxon Valdez disaster, Prince William Sound is still experiencing the damaging effects. It is difficult lesson to convey when we send more and more of our money overseas to fund our addiction to fossil fuels. And it is a difficult lesson to convey when our elected leaders have yet to truly transition us to a clean energy future by passing comprehensive climate legislation.
The latest oil spill shows we have not learned this lesson in responsibility. How can we teach our kids to care for our future when we fail to learn from the mistakes of the past? This is not just about one spill, one mistake, one disaster. This is about changing the way we live by changing the way we get the energy we run on. We can choose safer, cleaner, cheaper sources of energy that will be kinder to our environment, teach our kids about responsibility and preserve those special places for them, as well as their children, to enjoy. Our kids understand more than we realize and they take note of how we act toward others and the environment. I don't normally make much of Mother's Day, but this year I plan to set aside some time to talk to my children about being responsible for other people, other families, other living things. And I feel compelled to make a push for the clean energy future I know we deserve, engaging myself more in the effort and by asking my friends - moms and parents of all stripes - to make their voices heard.
We can't wait for another tragedy before we act. Our kids depend on us.
Gloria Reuben is a nationally known environmental activist and a special
advisor to The Alliance for Climate Protection.