From The Capital: Our Children Cannot Breathe

By Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson
30th Congressional District of Texas in the US House of Representatives

Those who brazenly continue to deny climate change should consider the health and well-being of their children, their grandchildren, and the undeniably horrific futures that health professionals say the young will face if the dangerous fossil fuel usage continues. Inaction will result in a world in which their ability to breathe and grow will be severely hampered. In fact, growing numbers of health professionals believe that yet-born babies, still being carried in their mother’s wombs, are front-line victims of warming climates.

That is something that adults who make decisions about the use of dangerous fuels may be unaware of, or perhaps simply do not care because their time on earth is limited, or their monetary profits too robust. They seem unconcerned about what the young will face in futures that they, themselves, will not see. Babies and children inhale larger portions of polluted air than adults because their bodies are smaller, according to health professionals and pediatricians.

The hearts of infants beat faster than those of older people and the rates of their breathing are greater. This and other factors present extreme dangers, they say. Lower birth rates and diseases such as asthma are related to being exposed to poor air quality, they add. According to data contained in a recent issue of the highly regarded medical journal Lancet, seven million people throughout the world died needlessly in 2018 because of breathing polluted air, caused by the burning of fossil fuels such as gas and coal, even when safer alternatives fuels are available.

Additionally, the experts say that children have to face increasing dangers associated with wildfires which are caused by warming climates and increased wind speed. Smoke from such fires also adversely impact young people, causing breathing and respiratory problems not experienced in years past. The Lancet report also makes a connection between a changing climate and mental health in our society. The impact on children is greater because they spend more of their time outside of their homes than adults.

Outdoors is where they play, where they compete in most sport activities, where they interact with nature and where they play children’s games such as hide and seek. Is it neither wise nor fair to deny them these activities? We must do something and we must do something now! It is morally unacceptable to play with the futures of children as some in our society are doing. They are unconcerned about the future, and about those who will have to cope with it. It is sinful what they are doing. And we must not allow them to get away with it. Our children, our grandchildren and their children deserve better than what they are getting. They deserve prosperous and healthy futures! It is our duty to give it to them.

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