As the days wind down to the U.S. presidential election, our planet’s future hangs in the balance.
By Madison Patterson.
When I woke on Saturday, September 12th, I was greeted by an unfamiliar flood of hazy yellow light. Through the window, I saw a world was drenched in sepia, treetops disappearing into smoky skies. It was smoke from the West Coast wildfires, making their presence visible, right on my Seattle doorstep.
After the initial concern at the campfire-smelling air, the smoke proved a stark reminder of just how much is at stake in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.
For the past several weeks, flames have been ripping through the great vastness of the West Coast, consuming forests and residential areas indiscriminately. On the other side of the nation, tropical storms of ever-increasing magnitude strip cities bare. Somewhere in between, Colorado saw both 99-degree weather and snowfall in the span of 48 hours. Despite all the “nature is healing” memes, the reality is that it will take more than a pandemic to fix the climate crisis. The ongoing policies and practices that set the stage for these catastrophic events need to change, and if the president is re-elected, it’s only going to get worse.
But we still have time. 43 days, to be exact, until the presidential election.
There are a myriad of ways in which presidential hopeful Joe Biden would be a better leader to fight the climate crisis than Republican President Trump. Biden released a $30 billion climate crisis plan, which is much bolder than his original stance on how strongly to invest in climate change-fighting initiatives. Unlike the current president’s non-existent, practically pro-climate change stance, Biden’s shows that he is at least somewhat receptive to demands for change.
If the current president is re-elected, the U.S. will also exit the Paris Climate Accords on November 4th. The international agreement aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and limit global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.
The climate crisis is as global as it is local, and will take a coalition of nations to halt. That task will be significantly more challenging if the U.S. shows itself to be incapable of cooperation, as the current president has.
Dozens of pressingly important issues need simultaneous addressing right now, not the least of which is the climate crisis. If you are on the fence with regards to this election, ask yourself: Can a man who has so unflinchingly demonstrated his racism be trusted with addressing the needs of non-white Americans, so that they may freely fight for the planet? Can a man frequently accused of sexual misconduct and who has unfailingly promoted misogyny be tasked with matching the stride of the fiercely feminist climate justice movement? Can a man so entrenched in the worst parts of industry, capitalism, and globalization see past the fiduciary bottom line?
No, he cannot. So, we must do better than we did in 2016.
The only way to make sure those responsibilities don’t end up in his hands again is to vote. To vote like your life depends on it, and like your friends’ lives depend on it, and like strangers’ lives depend on it. Because they do.
Don’t know where to start? Register online or in person here and here. Make sure your friends are registered, and if they aren’t, persuade them. Arrange transportation beforehand, or look into free election day transportation initiatives. Vote ahead of time, from a different place than your home address, or volunteer to register strangers to vote. The solutions are there, if we put our best efforts into pursuing them.
As Seattle’s skies go back to blue, and as air quality returns to normal, gaining a renewed perspective on the importance of this fall feels easier. By election day, I hope we’ve fought the haze of misinformation and bigotry as best as we could. By November 3rd, I hope that the right choice is clear as day.