As the election moves forward, there seems to be a disconnect between the American public and several of the presidential candidates, as well as those running for state and local offices.
On the Republican side, Donald Trump has repeatedly insisted that the actions of people have had little to do with the disruption of the climate. He has suggested eliminating the Environmental Protection Agency…and back in November of 2012 actually tweeted, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” Huh?
Ted Cruz has been equally consistent in ignoring the science. And if you are hoping that Paul Ryan may serve himself up as the answer to a potential Republican standoff at the convention, you should know his record of pitting the economy against pollution goes back to 2009, when he proudly attacked then-EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, for her efforts to disseminate the information, “Greenhouse Gases Threaten Public Health and the Environment.”
A March Gallup poll shows that these men are out of step with 64 percent of Americans who are concerned about global warming. This number is the highest reflection of apprehension in the past eight years, and an increase of 9 percent over 2015. The terminology Gallup used to quantify the worry is “fair amount” or “great deal.”
When Gallup broke down questions by political party affiliation, it showed that in 2016, those who identified as Democrats were “worried a great deal/fair amount about global warming,” at the high stat of 84 percent.
This reflects a relationship to Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders stances, which make their concerns for the environment clear and their acceptance of the “science” evident. They each offer different approaches.
While Secretary Clinton was slower to step up on rejecting the Keystone Pipeline, has supported fracking and offshore drilling, she stated in a debate, “I won’t let anyone take us backward, deny our economy the benefits of harnessing a clean energy future, or force our children to endure the catastrophe that would result from unchecked climate change…” She also promises to “Generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of her first term.” And Secretary Clinton clearly understands the threat to national security and the disproportionate ways in which women around the world are impacted — from food and water insecurity to the health issues resulting from traditional cookstoves. She has emphasized that on her first day in office she “will establish an Environmental and Climate Justice Task Force and charge it with finding and fixing the next 50 Flints.”
Senator Bernie Sanders has stated that “climate change is the single greatest threat facing our planet,” tying in the “financial cost of climate change” to his economic platform.
Only 10 percent of Americans do not believe that there will be any ramifications from climate change, and that is a decrease of 6 percent from 2015.
Other findings of Americans polled included:
- 59 percent believe that the impacts of climate change have begun
- 31 percent believe that consequences are in the near future
- 41 percent believe that global warming has the potential to impact them and their lifestyles
- 63 percent referenced the fact that the past winter was unusually warm
This year, Independent voters (68 percent) exceeded Republican voters (38 percent) in their unease about “increased temperatures due to human activities.” Independents jumped up 12 points as opposed to Republicans, where the increase was at 4 points.
In the middle of all these figures comes information from the Center for American Progress Action Fund that found more than 60 percent of Americans are represented in Congress by elected officials who do not believe in climate change. They reported that this year, in the 114th Congress, thirty-eight Senators and 144 Congressmen/women did not accept the science of climate change.
I looked at the “Climate Denier 2016” Google doc that listed all the elected officials in the House and Senate who don’t believe in climate change, the amounts of money they had received in contributions from fossil fuels (coal, oil, and gas) over the years they had been in office, and quotes indicating their points of view. Another tool was a map that allowed you to click on your state, find the climate deniers, how much money they had received in “Dirty Energy Contributions,” and the number of “climate-related FEMA natural disaster declarations between 2011 and 2015.” New York State had twelve such “natural disasters.” The three climate deniers (all Congressmen) had racked up a total of $224,054 in career contributions.
So what’s the bottom line?
Our kids deserve to have the American voters hold the people they are considering voting for accountable — on where they stand on clean air, clean water, protecting our natural resources, renewable energy, environmental justice, and the future of the next generations.