A Growing Force in the Climate Movement: Moms

A calamity that strikes your child can lead any mother to extraordinary action. That was certainly true for Phoenix’s Columba Sainz. It wasn’t until her daughter was diagnosed with asthma that she learned of the city’s extremely dangerous air. Sainz is active with a group called EcoMadres, affiliated with a national group known as Clean Air Force Moms. In Phoenix, its members have pushed city officials to plant shade trees in neighborhoods disproportionately burdened by extreme heat, testified at federal hearings to tighten air pollution regulations and marched to the offices of their state senators to demand climate legislation. Nationally, Moms Clean Air Force has successfully lobbied for federal funding for electric school buses.

“We are mothers and we know what our children are going through,” Sainz said. “We just have to go wherever we can go and be that voice and inspire the voices of other moms.”

The thing is, moms are never just moms. Some are climate scientists who call themselves Science Moms and have created tip sheets and online videos to help others understand the science. “As scientists and moms, we want to provide other moms with the climate change information and resources they need,” said Melissa Burt, atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University and co-founder of the group. “Moms are worried, overwhelmed and anxious about the climate crisis, and the way to overcome anxiety is to take action.”

Which brings us back to the date of the play at Larry Fink.

On a crisp Sunday last October, after a morning of apple picking, Bocci arrived with half a dozen other moms from Brooklyn. They brought a basket of apples, along with signs and toddlers. They had planned to take photos of their protest on Fink’s lawn and splash them on social media.

Except Fink came to talk. They urged him to move BlackRock’s trillions from coal, oil and gas. Zasper rolled around his yard again and again. Some of the other toddlers had straight meltdowns.

The moms said they were appalled to hear Fink tell them there were limits to what BlackRock could do. “If he can’t make changes, I don’t know who can!” said Marlena Fontes, one of the other moms in attendance.

(BlackRock confirmed that the meeting took place, but not what was said. Fink has said in the past that as a fiduciary organization in charge of other people’s money, the company could not divest fossil fuel companies for climate issues. A company spokesperson added that the group of moms were then invited to speak with two BlackRock executives in charge of sustainability.)

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