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Hannah Morgan: Families working together for a better world

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This comment is from Hannah Morgan of Plainfield, a mom and organizer with families risea 350Vermont project bringing families together to talk about the harsh realities of climate change and participate in the transition to a healthier and safer world.

Leaving home with young children is always a triumph. I had been trying to do just that with my 1 and 3 year olds all morning.

While I was cleaning the 1 year old’s oatmeal, the 3 year old ran outside and then walked through the house in his muddy boots.

While I was helping the 3 year old with his boots, the 1 year old was soaking his hat in dog water and soaking his pants.

While I was changing the 1 year old, the 3 year old was stripping and throwing baskets of toys.

Finally, both children were dressed and ready to go and I was packing food and listening to their laughter, grateful that they were enjoying each other’s company. I turned to see that they were taking turns stomping on a soft water bottle and running through the resulting puddle in their socks. I ran upstairs and silently screamed, sobbed and pounded the mattress with my fists before happily calling out that I was looking for dry socks.

Parenting is wonderful and difficult. But these daily struggles aren’t what makes parenthood so deeply exhausting. The real challenge for me has been trying my best to stay calm and raise my children the right way under the constant blanket of grief for the world.

The challenge is to find strength and hope in feeding my children breakfast, knowing that a mother brings her son home in a wheelbarrow and buries him in a shallow grave in her garden in Ukraine. He breastfeeds my daughter to sleep knowing manatees are starving in Florida right now due to pollution and climate change.

I write about this exhaustion knowing that I am a parent with many privileges and that I do not have to deal with the daily violence of racism, homophobia/transphobia, etc., which causes suffering and exhaustion that I will never even understand.

How do we continue to raise our children in the face of these constant atrocities and losses? For me, one way to keep hope alive is to take action.

What is happening in Ukraine is a devastating reminder of the link between war and the climate crisis. Militarism contributes enormously to climate change and access to resources such as oil is at the root of armed conflict. Not only are fossil fuels causing the climate emergency, they are also funding and enabling war. As long as we extract and burn dirty energy, we will see more families torn apart by instability, violence and war.

And although we heard daily about the suffering in Ukraine, the latest IPCC report made it clear that our time for deliberation was over. We are on track for catastrophic 3C warming, spelling the most extreme outcomes of the climate emergency, including total social and environmental collapse.

But it is not yet a fatality. Scientists have provided a clear path to avoid this worst-case scenario and that means stepping up the climate movement and defeating the fossil fuel industry to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.

The response to the war in Ukraine must not be to increase domestic oil and gas extraction. This is the time to take the leap out of dirty energy. And as we all work towards the end of the age of fossil fuels, we must ensure that this transition is just and centers the voices of those who are most vulnerable and historically marginalized.

False solutions are currently offered by legislation in our state, such as the use of biofuels as a clean heat source. While false solutions like this are attractive on the surface, in reality, biofuels displace food crops, destroy ecosystems and release sequestered carbon.

Local leaders should prioritize real change now by funding massive weatherization and incentives for low-income Vermonters to have access to heat pumps, electric vehicles and community solar power. We need to fund more environmental justice laws and provide access to land for BIPOC farmers, and prioritize a robust public transportation system, including fully electric school buses.

I wish I could devote all my time and attention to raising my children and continuing my work, but I just can’t do that under the weight of the constant fear I feel for their future. As a mom, I will continue to organize for climate justice. And I will continue to pick up the crumbs under the table, knowing that means I am still able to feed my family; I will wash the dishes and do the laundry, grateful that we have access to hot running water; I will try to revel in the constant noise, knowing it means I am surrounded by my children who are still alive.

As a member of Families Rise Up (a network of over 700 parents and families across Vermont working for climate justice), I know I am not alone with these feelings. Our strength lies in our shared love for our children and our fierce commitment to justice, an end to war and a livable planet.

You can join Families Rise Up for an Earth Day solidarity and nurse rally on the Statehouse steps on Saturday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The nurse will take place at noon.

What: All families are invited to join us in singing, breastfeeding our babies and picnicking together on the steps of the Statehouse to call for an end to fossil fuel extraction and war, and to celebrate community and life. Please wear yellow or blue, bring your family, friends and a picnic, and be prepared to sing. All breastfeeding people are especially welcome to gather and breastfeed their babies or children at noon on the steps of the Statehouse.

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Tags: 350Vermont, Earth Day Solidarity Rally and Nurse-In, EVs, Families Rise Up, grief for the world, Hannah Morgan, heat pumps, Ukraine, weatherization

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