Before Andrew Yang dropped out of the race I would have said there are a lot of important things to accomplish this election cycle, including the single issue I want to talk about, but now that the only candidate that made sense on the economy, healthcare, democracy, technology, people, etc. is out of the race there is only one issue that really matters, and no, it isn’t getting Donald Trump out of office. Really, at this point, we’re either going to get an establishment democrat who is sure to keep things running in the interests of big money as things have been done for decades which isn’t preferable to Trump (that isn’t to say Trump is preferable to that either) or we’ll get Bernie Sanders who, admittedly and as you’ll see, is the best-case scenario at this point. No, the single issue is climate. If you talk to almost anyone under the age of 50 you will be told that we have to do something about climate change in the next 30 years at the latest, 10 years if we really want to prevent any fallout. See, it’s not about petty squabbles or politically charged social issues right now. No, it’s about keeping a liveable planet around for the current and next generations. It’s about guaranteeing the future of our species.
If you look around at the field of remaining democratic candidates right now you get, again, establishment democrats or candidates who will clearly keep the interests of big money and corporations over the interests of the people and then you have Bernie Sanders. Let me be clear, not a single one of these candidates, not even Bernie Sanders, will do anything for the day to day lives of Americans. Bernie has all of the best intentions, he’s a great guy, he’s done great things, but quite frankly, all of his solutions are terrible. Aside from that though, we don’t really have to worry because none of his plans will have a chance at getting through the senate. Now that that’s out in the open, I surely hope Bernie gets the nomination. If there’s one thing that Bernie could actually get done it is a change in climate legislation and approach in the United States and I also believe he would actually prioritize it. Because we don’t have a hope of getting anything else done with any remaining candidate or improving literally anything with any candidate other than Bernie, he is our choice because of this one issue. Now, I will say, Tom Steyer would probably do a great deal for climate as well given that, from what I can tell, climate is one of his two issues (the other being democratic reform) but I really don’t see Tom being able to beat Trump.
I shouldn’t need to stress the importance of climate change in general but since a little under half of the U.S. population still denies it on some level I want to spend some time on this. It is the consensus of the scientific community, which is to say the community that studies REALITY, that climate change is real, will cause cataclysmic problems, and is, with a greater than 95% probability, human-caused. But because life and death don’t seem to be motivating for a large portion of our population because it isn’t immediately obvious, perhaps an economic appeal will bring people to the light. Due to rising sea levels alone, the U.S. is estimated to have to spend $40 billion even IF we make the necessary changes by 2050. Now imagine that we carry on our current path and do nothing about it. That number, in addition to several other numbers related to climate change, will sky-rocket. One study estimates that climate change could cost the U.S. up to 10.5% of our annual GDP by 2100 if nothing is done.
Now that the motivation is out of the way, let’s talk a little more in detail about why this is so important for the 2020 election. First, we have an incumbent who is a climate-change denier. He has signed away protected national land such as Bear’s Ears and Grand Escalante National Monuments in Utah in order to allow oil drilling, pulled the U.S. out of international climate agreements, and has loosened domestic rules on polluters. Every moment we wait to act on climate change we are taking another step towards the guillotine and every moment we have a sitting president who denies the biggest threat to human existence of our time and outright does the opposite of what we need to be doing, we are taking those steps. Even if we had a president who was indifferent towards climate we would be taking those steps. The latter reason is exactly the reason we have no other choice now except for Bernie. Because, despite how much Pete, Biden, or Bloomberg talk on climate they are just talking points for them and you can guarantee that them being in office would be no different than the presidents of the last 40 years. More protections for and relaxation on corporations and zero focus on the issues that actually matter to the people. Business as usual.
Because we only truly have 10 years to turn things around before losing life as we know it, we can’t afford to wait another four years with a leader that doesn’t take climate change seriously. We can’t afford to wait for someone to put climate at the forefront at the last moment in hopes all efforts can be halted and reversed in time. We needed to have already started but because of the situation we are in now, we need to start now. I truly believe Bernie would. Bernie Sanders has a history of listening to the people. He is a true representative and while I disagree with the economic views his supporters have asked him to represent, climate is something that we desperately need representation for at the level of the president. Bernie has one of the most (admittedly not as good as Yang’s) progressive and aggressive climate plans. He understands the existential threat we are facing and the fear that so many young people are living with day to day in the face of this disaster. It is because of his understanding of science and his honest political nature that I have no doubt he would take climate seriously and actually make strides on it during his presidency even if he is failing to pass Medicare for All at the same time.
I urge anyone who is concerned with climate change to consider this during this election cycle. There is no good candidate in the race that will best represent the economic interests and needs of the people. In the case of Bernie Sanders, while he does represent the interests, his solutions are terrible and he won’t be able to get them passed anyway. In light of this, I am putting out the call to vote on this single issue, an issue that could actually get addressed if this one candidate gets elected. An issue that concerns every single person’s future. An issue that, if not addressed, could mean the literal end of humanity. It is because of all of these reasons that we should ignore the other issues. It’s not that they don’t matter but that nothing will get done in the way of them anyway and that these issues won’t even exist if we don’t save life itself. Beating Donald Trump is important but at this point, with the field we have left, it is only important because we need a president that prioritizes climate and if we don’t elect someone that will do that beating Trump will accomplish nothing.