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Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that global temperatures are rising and that climate change poses a serious threat to humanity.

Let’s be real for a minute. When have 97 percent of a group of people agreed on anything? The near unanimous agreement on climate change means one thing: we have to act.

Climate change is a problem that affects each and every one of us. When sea levels rise, droughts intensify, and natural disasters become more common, our water and food resources become endangered. Whether your community is underwater or the farms that feed your family are dried up, you can guarantee that climate change will affect you. That is, if it hasn’t already.

State Sen. Lena Taylor
State Sen. Lena Taylor

I bring this up because next Saturday April 22nd is Earth Day. Earth Day is a day for all of us to remember our responsibility to our planet. God gave us one planet. We can’t put a price tag on it.

But some politicians have tried. I’m talking about Donald Trump. Republicans have always had a nasty history of promoting big business interests over the health of our communities, but Trump has taken this to a new low.

Trump’s proposed budget slashes the Environmental Protection Agency’s spending by 31% and cuts 15,000 jobs from the agency. Thanks to these cuts, the EPA plans to eliminate two programs aimed at preventing children’s exposure to leaded paint. Apparently, Trump is fine with a few kids getting lead poisoning so long as he can give the wealthy tax breaks. Trump has also signed an executive order effectively killing President Obama’s climate change efforts.

Coming from the man that thinks climate change is a hoax invented by the Chinese, this should come as no surprise. But if he doesn’t want his Mar-a-Lago resort underwater in a few years, Trump should get on board with combatting climate change.

Some people may think it odd that me, a Senator from Milwaukee, cares about the environment when her district is made of concrete, but even Milwaukee’s natural resources have been under threat lately.

Lead
The safety of our water is an environmental issue. Right now Milwaukee has over 70,000 plus lead laterals. These pipes carry tainted water into homes and harm our babies. In 2014, 8.6% of children tested had high blood lead levels! Ensuring access to clean water should be one of our top environmental priorities.

Chemical Poisoning
Last month I held an informational session on the mishandling of chemical waste by the Mid-America barrel reconditioning facility on Cornell Street. The Journal Sentinel reported that the factory was harming the nearby environment and residents in the area. Part of protecting our environment means holding businesses to account when they harm our natural resources.

Feeding our community
23,000 Milwaukeeans live in a food dessert without access to fresh produce. When you don’t have access to healthy food, you have worse health outcomes and higher medical bills. As I’ve suggested with my LOVE & FAITH initiative, we need to turn Milwaukee into an urban farm where people have the resources and training to grow their own food. If we are more environmentally conscious of how we use our space and resources in Milwaukee, we can feed more people and protect our environment at the same time.

If you’re wondering how you can do your part, look no further. Next Saturday, April 22nd, I’m hosting a community neighborhood clean-up day. We’ll take on the W. Hampton Ave. to W. Villard Ave. blocks as well as the N. Green Bay Ave to N. 24th St blocks.

When our water, our air, and our soil are clean and healthy, so are our communities. The planet we leave our great grandchildren will be our most important legacy. I don’t support environmental conservation for a title or an honor. I do it because I believe that we are all responsible for the health of our communities, and that means caring for our environment. I hope you’ll do your part in joining me this Earth Day to create a healthier future for everyone.

Written by State Sen. Lena Taylor

State Sen. Lena Taylor

Wisconsin State Sen. Lena Taylor represents the 4th State Senate District in Milwaukee.

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