Mother Knows Best

With Mother’s Day just behind us, I was particularly moved by a letter written four decades ago by a very special mom. My friend and colleague, Joe Lyou, a brilliant advocate and strategist for environmental justice and a cleaner environment in his own right, shared with me the letter written by his mother that was so prophetic and profound.

In July 1969, Mrs. Lyou wrote about the air pollution caused by vehicle exhaust. She also warned California policy makers about the potential impacts of global warming. I would do her simple eloquence a great injustice by trying to paraphrase, so I urge you to read the letter for yourself at

The old 1950s TV show “Father Knows Best” was a sign of its time - - a male-dominated society that assumed all wisdom flowed from dad, or at least the one wearing pants in those days. As I read Kay Lyou’s letter, I realize that maybe it was mother who knew best and had we followed another commonly accepted value from the 1950s, we might not face the environmental and economic challenges we do today from air pollution and greenhouse gases. In those days, they used to say… “Now listen to your mother!”