Edgar East


Last July, I traveled to Washington, D.C., with my 10-year old son as part of an Iowa delegation organized by Moms Clean Air Force, an organization of more than 1 million working to protect children’s health from air pollution and the impacts of climate change. We met with Rep. Abby Finkenauer. Our meeting left an indelible impression on my child, who still perks up whenever he hears her name spoken — a reminder involving our children in civic engagement is important.

As a parent, I think a lot about what my children’s lives may look like when they are my age. What will become of Iowa and its people with increasingly hot, wet weather? To keep our children safe and avoid the worst effects of climate change, we need to act boldly. The science is clear: We must minimize our reliance on fossil fuels and cut climate pollution 45% by 2030 on our way to reaching a 100% clean economy by 2050 — an economy with zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Is this ambitious? Yes, but doable. This shift will also strengthen our economy by creating many good jobs, protecting lives and livelihoods, and saving huge amounts of money by averting costly disasters.

Yet, the opposite of bold action was on display last week when the current administration announced its plan to officially withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement. This policy U-turn blatantly ignores our urgent climate reality. It also puts U.S. leadership on climate on serious hold, allowing other countries to take our seat at the table. Forty percent of the world’s population today lives in countries that have set a specific date for banning the internal combustion engine, for example, China, India, and countries in Western Europe. These are major economies. While this U.S. administration is “stuck in reverse” when it comes to cleaner cars, other economies aren’t wasting time making the fuel-efficient cars of the future. New geopolitical alliances are forming without the United States by nations not willing to wait for the U.S. to catch up. Our economy is being left out of an enormous and profitable business opportunity to join the clean economy transformation.

Despite an administration at odds with climate action, it is heartening that a growing number of U.S. representatives are not standing idle and are co-sponsoring the 100% Clean Economy Act that soon will be introduced to the House. This legislation will use the existing authority of federal agencies to transition us away from fossil fuels. Many in power do understand the imperative to act. I encourage Iowa representatives to go bold and put their weight behind this legislation.

At a recent Moms Clean Air Force-led roundtable discussion in Waterloo, one middle schooler put it best: “Please give us clean air. I have asthma and it [hurts].” The same air pollution harming our children’s health is contributing to climate change. This must stop. Join me in asking our representatives to commit us to 100% clean economy by 2050. We will all be better off, and our children are looking to see who will stand up for them. Their futures can’t wait.

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Edgar East of Waterloo is a member of the Moms Clean Air Force. He is a father of four, a professional musician and a licensed educator with more than 30 years of experience in the public schools.


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