I first met Nicole Hernandez Hammer when she drove from Fort Lauderdale to Washington D.C. with her husband and young son to join Moms Clean Air Force for a meeting with EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. This evening Nicole will be sitting in the First Lady's box as President Obama delivers his sixth State of the Union address. To me, this signals the president's commitment to doing all he can to tackle the dangerous problem of climate pollution. And so I am celebrating.
Nicole is the mother of a 7-year-old son and the leader of the Florida chapter of Moms Clean Air Force. She was born in Guatemala and moved to the U.S. when she was four; she became a climate scientist.
In that meeting, I listened to her talk passionately, urgently, about the porous limestone bedrock on which Miami is built, and how sewage and drainage systems are increasingly compromised by seawater rising through the ground. I thought: how can we share Nicole's knowledge, her clear way of speaking, and her passion with the people of Florida -- with the nation -- and empower them to act on climate change? I felt an urgent need to make that happen.
Nicole soon left academia to join Moms Clean Air Force, and she has concentrated her work in the Latina community. She says, "The debate is settled, our climate is changing, our seas are rising. Now is the time for action. I worked to confirm that human activity is changing our climate, and now I am working on behalf of my son for action -- we need to fight climate change today."
I could not be more inspired by Nicole -- and by so many parent climate activists protecting those closest to our hearts. The love we all feel -- for our families, and for this beautiful world -- will win the day. Love is stronger than pollution.