Why The Next US Presidential Election Means More Than You Think
6 Minute Read
“I don’t even call it climate change. It’s a climate crisis [that] represents an existential threat to us as a species. The fact that we have a president of the United States who has embraced science fiction over… [fact] will be to our collective peril.”
– Kamala Harris
It’s election season here in the US, and day after day, I’m reminded of just how important this next US presidential election is: for things like racial justice, criminal justice reform, healthcare, and immigration. All of those things are incredibly important. But in addition to that, the next US presidential election is so important because we have such a short window (just over 10 years!) to take climate action before it’s too late. This is no joke. And without getting all political on you, I wanna stress the importance of what’s at stake here.
If we don’t have clean water, breathable air, and healthy soil to grow our food, we’re screwed. Literally. And the color of your skin, how much money you have, which party you associate with, and whether you have access to universal healthcare won’t matter. What matters is your survival. And who we choose as the next president will play a huge part in determining that. Bush walked into 9/11. Obama was handed the great recession. And the next president will have no choice but to tackle climate change.
You see, climate change isn’t just about rising sea levels and hotter weather. It’s about extreme weather, like the unprecedented forest fires in California, and the increasingly worse storms like Hurricane Harvey that devastated Houston. It’s about weather conditions being so unpredictable that farmers can’t grow their crops. This not only affects hard-working farmers’ ability to support their families, but it also affects what food you have access to. It’s all connected.
Some people say that climate change is too abstract of an idea to really grasp. But when you start to see the tangible ways it will affect you, reality starts to set in. And here are just a few ways it’ll do that:
Do you live near the coast? Or do you like going to the beach?
More than a billion people in the world live in coastal areas, which is about 1/8 of the world’s population. By 2100, sea levels will rise between 1 and 4 feet, which means that over a billion people will be affected by high tides, flooding, storm surges, and hurricanes. Some scientists even say that a 1-foot increase is a conservative estimate, and that it’s likely to be much higher. Oh and by the way, in the US alone, the 5 million people who live in coastal areas will most definitely be affected by a 4-foot rise in sea-level. Are you having a come to jesus moment yet?…hmm, aright…I’ll keep going then…
Do you like seafood?
High amounts of CO2 in the atmosphere make it hard for basic marine life, like coral, zooplankton, and shellfish to survive. These types of marine life form the basis of our underwater food chain. And if there’s no life at the bottom of the food chain, that means there’s no food for the bigger fish either. This means no more fish tacos, shrimp cocktails, catch of the day, or fried calamari for you. And for the 1 billion people who rely on seafood as their primary source of protein? Well…they better get creative. (For more information, you can look up ocean acidification).
Do you like eating? As in… at all?
As I mentioned before, climate change will lead to an increase in extreme weather and temperatures. This means more droughts, more flooding, and higher temperatures, all of which affect farmers’ ability to grow the crops that make up the foundation of your diet. Crops that will be most affected are soy, corn, rice, and wheat, a.k.a. the ingredients that are literally in everything you eat: bread, pasta, tortilla chips, tacos, granola, cookiessssss, cereal, beer, pizza, vegan meats… shall I go on? Those crops are also used to feed cattle, like pigs, cows, and chickens. If we’re unable to produce enough to feed both humans and livestock, you won’t have the luxury of eating meat either. And you’re gonna be looking at plant based eating in a whole new way. But one thing’s for sure, you can kiss all kinds of deliciousness like the below goodbye…
Climate change will affect everything.
For everyone. For you. Your children (if you choose to have any). Your nieces and nephews. And for any human born from this point on. And the shittiest part is that the people who will be affected the absolute worst are the ones are already facing strive and inequality. Like those who live in developing countries where famine and water shortages are already an issue. Plus, because they don’t have the financial resources or government infrastructure to deal with their existing daily battles, shit’s about to get real for a whole lotta people.
So, as we navigate the next few years of politics at its worst, I just want you to think about what’s really important during the next presidential election. And leave all of the surface-level crap at the door. Who do you think has the ability to create a tangible, long-lasting impact when it comes to climate change? (and racial justice, and environmental justice, and fair treatment of all human beings).
Think long and hard about who you vote for in the next election. And I’m not just talking about the presidential election. I’m talking about your city council person, congressman/woman, governor, mayor, and anyone else who represents you as a voter. They all have a role to play in fighting for your rights.
Let your voice be heard in as many ways as possible, whether it’s by voting, campaigning, running for office in the future, donating to campaigns you believe in, protesting, or exercising your buying power. Do everything and anything you can.
Oh… I almost forgot.
If you’re registered to vote, I wanna make sure you have all the information you need to make sure your vote counts in the US presidential election (like knowing about election requirements, the election process in general, and where your local polling station is). You can get all the info here. If you’re not yet registered to vote, you might have missed the deadline for the upcoming election, but you cant get squared away for future elections. So let’s get that taken care of right now by going to the official voter registration site.
If you plan on voting in the next election, comment below with “Let’s do this!”