- Date: April 30, 2012
Climate change scientists talk a lot about two categories of change. First, the “observed changes” we see today, like bizarre weather and sea ice shrinking. Second, the “mid-to-late century projections” for the future, including extreme heat waves, persistent drought, and rising seas, that together could make it hard to find freshwater to drink, much less to irrigate food production for the world. “Mid-to-late century” is a buzz term in our industry, and I always thought I understood the urgency of the phrase.
Then my son was born.
“Mid-to-late century,” it dawned on me when I studied my angelic little boy’s face one night after he was born, would be when Siddharth is in his 50s, give or take. I close my eyes, picture him at that age, and suddenly the realities of climate change burrow into my mind in a way that never happened before I became a mother.
My work as a climate change researcher always felt urgent and important. But it wasn’t until my son was born that my work took on a deeper meaning.
Certainly becoming a mother changes all of our approaches to our jobs. A teacher might start instructing her pupils the way she’d want her own child to learn. A construction worker may take more precautions, thinking of the family back home. A doctor may develop a gentler bedside manner.
Probably like mothers all over the world, I now think of everything in the context of my child’s future. I brought him into this world, and I feel a lot of responsibility to make sure he’s able to thrive.
His arrival made it even more imperative to institute the best responsible practices in our home, such as installing super-efficient appliances, hanging energy-saving double honeycomb blinds on the windows and line-drying all of our clothes. I also have made sure not to use my son as an excuse to do things that might be easier in the short term, but are bad for the environment over the long term. Like moving to a larger house that requires more energy to heat, or living far from public transportation and becoming overly reliant on a car.
As a mother, I have the power to make these decisions for my family and to set the right example for my child. Few groups of people have as much power as moms, to be honest, because the passion that fuels us comes from the deepest possible place. And as moms, we can be responsible environmentalists, not just setting an example for our children but also showing the rest of the world that there is a better, alternate future.
Politicians could use a dose of that maternal passion. Perhaps they’d then have the gumption to make the wide-sweeping changes needed to unhinge us from the grasp of polluting technologies.
There’s something inspirational about the power of moms. I’m really glad I am one.
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