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My daughter was born in July 2011, within a week of air quality alerts. This year, she celebrated her first birthday within a summer of them.

Summer 2012 should have been the first that we could really enjoy as a family, but with poor air quality, regular heat advisories with temperatures topping 100 degrees, and the threat of West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes in the cooler evenings, my husband and I have kept our daughter inside.

We had hoped to take her to the Vanderburgh County Fair, but that week there were excessive heat warnings and 100 degree temperatures. Some animals died in the heat. Meanwhile, a more virulent strain of swine flu, which has affected 113 people in the state this year, caused the Indiana State Fair to close its swine barn last month.

In an August article titled “Fairs, Like Crops, Are Drooping in the Heat,” The New York Times reported that there were fewer prized vegetables and animals on display, as well as smaller crowds this year. All suffered, along with farmers, from drought and heat.

What is the future of the county fair in a world where agricultural patterns that have been consistent for generations are changing? All over the planet, people who know these cycles, who live these patterns of planting and harvesting, are saying, “It’s not right. It’s not like it used to be.”

According to this newspaper, all 92 Indiana counties were declared farming disaster areas last month. A local farmer told the Courier & Press, “I’ve never seen it this dry. I’ve never seen it this hot. This is the worst summer of my life.”

Having just returned from Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project training, I can’t help but worry about the summers of my daughter’s future. If we continue down our current path, those stretches of 100-plus degree days β€” we had 10 in a row this summer β€” will be more common.

So will the spread of exotic diseases, more intense storms and floods, wildfires, widespread drought, and costs in human suffering and repairs to infrastructure.

Many of the speakers at Climate Reality Project training began or ended their presentations with pictures of children they loved.

Those children are the reason they must act. Beatrice Rose, my daughter, is mine.

Though the multiple disastrous effects of climate change can be overwhelming, we know how to prevent them β€” and we can, if we act.

We must move to a clean energy economy.

Renewable energy such as wind and solar get cheaper every day. Fossil fuels get more expensive. It’s an easy choice. The other option? Destroying our civilization and our children’s future.

Please contact your representatives and tell them to act on climate change now.

Wendy Bredhold is a former member of the Evansville City Council.

By Wendy Bredhold.

Read more at: www.courierpress.com