I never thought I would become such an ardent environmentalist.  I did women’s issues; my husband did environmental issues.  But I am celebrating Mothers’ Day by doing a little something for Mother Earth.  We need her, and she really needs us right now.

I used to think women and the environment were separate issues.  Then I started working with Community Forests International (http://forestsinternational.org) and the more time I spend on climate change, the more I see that all these issues are thoroughly connected – poverty, women’s rights, economic inequality, climate change – the whole thing.

Here are my top three reasons for believing that women need to sort out how they raise the next generation and contribute to the economy and create social change:

  1. There is nothing in the world to rival the motivation of a mother who perceives an immediate threat to her children.  Climate change is here, and the catastrophic effects are not going to happen to unknown future generations; they will affect our very own children in the next few decades.  That makes mothers a very highly motivated force for fighting environmental degradation.
  2. Women are half the brains, talent and energy available, everywhere on the planet.  Climate change is a super-wicked problem, and we need everybody to be involved in fixing it. We have to support the mothers of the world who should be part of every environmental team – but they can’t help in the fight  if they don’t have great child-care, health-care and education for their children.
  3. Ever since the industrial revolution, we have been running on a model of social mobility through constant economic growth.  We have finally grown our way right out of the capacity of our planet to support us.  But many human societies in the past were based on a model of stability, not growth.  I believe women are more attuned to this idea – that there is value in keeping what we have, not always making new and more.  If women are the keepers, then we are more easily inclined to pull back from the model of constant growth that has brought us to this precipice.

And let’s face it: if our children and grandchildren run out of drinking water, and sea levels rise to flood New York and Vancouver, and the bees die so our crops can’t be pollinated, no one will remember whether we spent those extra four hours a week at work or baking cupcakes.  So let’s get busy – we know moms can handle just about anything!

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