People can handle the truth.
That’s the fundamental thing that I must believe as a journalist. People deserve to know what is happening in the world, and when they have that information, they can make better decisions on their future and the future of the world around them.
The thing that continues to haunt me about the 2016 presidential election is the lack of dialogue about climate change. The differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump couldn’t have been more apparent, the stakes couldn’t have been higher, yet climate change – the most pressing issue facing the United States and the entire world – wasn’t addressed at all. Not in the debates. Not in commercials. Not really even in news articles.
The differences were obvious, so what’s the point of focusing on them? I guess that’s the logic that followed. Yet the future of the planet was at stake. And people need to be reminded of those stakes, but they weren’t.
So far, that lack of dialogue has had dire consequences. The Trump administration is slowly but surely destroying the environmental progress made under the Obama administration, as demonstrated in this week’s stories. Though those stakes are incredibly high, maybe the direness of the situation is now more apparent because Trump was elected president.
Maybe if Hillary Clinton had been elected president, we could have met the Paris climate agreement, but what would the end goal be? If she’s elected, maybe people don’t realize the problem at hand and maybe we can’t mobilize the way that’s necessary. Maybe we continue on the slow march toward death, rather than realizing we need to do something. Maybe. I don’t know. No one does.
Maybe that’s the problem with the overall problem of climate change. The problem is so insurmountable that doing something is overwhelming and difficult. Maybe that’s why people our age have such a hard time dealing with it all.
Combine climate change with student debt, low wages, a lack of health care, everything being sprayed with pesticides, and doing something becomes so difficult that it’s almost impossible. Taken together, all of those things might mean that you don’t want to do anything, even laundry, even tying your shoes, even getting a winter coat that zips up or sewing on the button that fell off. Maybe you just want comfort.
So far, I have been skeptical of every Democratic presidential candidate for 2020.
I like them all, but I don’t like any of them. None of the announced assortment of Senators, Governors and other politicians seem to have the experience or passion to properly address the threat of climate change. None, even Jay Inslee who is leading the charge, seem to make it a priority issue. Even though they’re all making it a priority issue.
Yet in the past couple months, the conversation has changed. It’s almost as if, since the U.S. House of Representatives’ was sworn in, the country has tried to catch up with the threat that’s haunting the world.
It almost seems like since the Midterm elections we’ve slowly become more aware that ignoring the problem until it goes away is going to be a solution. Even some Republican members of the House agree with this.
The ignoring of climate change – the most pressing issue facing the United States – was a defining issue in the 2016 presidential election. The complete lack of attention to the issue not only demonstrated the lack of understanding of the issue, but also the lack of media around it.
If we want people to take the issue seriously, we need to arm people with information. Without information, educated decisions are impossible. It’s such an immense issue that coming up with policy is almost impossible.
Climate change seems to be ever more present, but the question remains: What can we do about it?
Like everything else facing young people in the world, doing something can be extremely overwhelming and difficult. Maybe talking about it is the first step.
People can handle the truth.
“You can’t talk about two sides when the other side doesn’t have a foot in reality,” said University of Illinois climate scientist Donald Wuebbles.
Does too many candidates who care make it hard for one candidate to stand out? Or is it good because there’s a consensus that something needs to be done.
People are paying attention now. At least Congress is.
Even some Republicans.
“The chummy atmosphere on the House’s pre-eminent climate panel is raising hopes among Democrats that they might be able to substantively tackle climate change in the 116th Congress, after all.”
The Trump administration has tried to rollback six major climate change rules, from fuel efficiency standards to the Clean Power Plan. Again, the lack of discussion on climate change in the 2016 election didn’t demonstrate a consensus, but instead a stark difference that apparently wasn’t even needed to be discussed.
The administration is confused about why automakers don’t publicly support the rollbacks of the higher standards for fuel efficiency, which were a main Obama administration objective.
A carbon tax is needed. How do the two main options stack up?
After climbing for decades, electricity use by American households has declined over the past eight years.
Wheeler responded: “No. You know, as far as the largest environmental issue facing the planet today, I would have to say water. The fact that a million people still die a year from lack of potable drinking water is a crisis.”
He continued: “Is climate change the existential threat? I don’t see it as the existential threat, no. We have a lot of environmental threats. We have a lot of environmental problems. But we’re working to address all of them.”
They’re all connected. Each and every one of these issues. We are losing freshwater because of climate change. We are facing food shortages that lead to overfertilization and spraying of pesticides because of climate change. The threats and problems he talks about don’t just exist in a vacuum. The world is interconnected. We need both air to breathe and water to drink. You can’t really isolate these problems when the biggest existential threat looms over all of them.
Thanks for reading.