I remember the feeling I had holding each of my newborns as we left the hospital — how fragile they seemed in that big, bright world, how fiercely determined I felt to protect them. Since my eldest son’s birth, I have been learning more about the crisis our planet is in, how little time left we have to cut back on greenhouse gasses, and how bold our action needs to be. I am now firmly convinced that leaving my kids a livable world to grow up in means leaving fossil fuels in the ground.
In the Bay Area, we might imagine ourselves at a distance from the problems of oil extraction. Few of us realize there are six active oil wells already in Alameda County, and while they are not currently being fracked, there are no safeguards in place to make sure it stays that way. Fracking produces especially high levels of greenhouse gasses, such as methane, and it also wastes water, poisons groundwater, and even has been proven to cause earthquakes.
Stopping this type of dangerous extraction is a parents’ issue; it’s part of keeping our kids safe as much as buckling them into their car seats. Kids in heavily fracked places face increased rates of cancer and asthma, and a recent study linked proximity to fracking with lower birth weights. Many children in our county already live with disproportionate levels of pollution. Banning fracking here would help protect them, and would help build momentum for a statewide ban, which Governor Jerry Brown, bowing to industry pressure, has refused to enact.
As the California PTA recently acknowledged, climate change is a key issue for families. Yet despite the dire predictions and the growing awareness of where our planet is headed, we continue to produce climate-disrupting gasses at increasing rates. We don’t feel the effects of those gasses immediately. But by the time my young children are the age I am now, they will say: You knew what was happening. What did you do? A ban on fracking is one step toward curtailing the emissions that are cooking our planet.
Parents taking action will help allow our kids to have a planet to call home. When we get involved as families, being part of this effort can be empowering. On Saturday, August 1 at 11 a.m. at Eastshore Park near Lake Merritt in Oakland, Alameda County Families Against Fossil Fuels and Food & Water Watch will host a kid-friendly action to “Knock Out Oil.” I’ll be there with my kids. Join us in taking a step toward leaving them a livable world to grow up in.