On Thursday, Sunrise Movement, a collection of young people advocating for political action on climate change, endorsed Bernie Sanders for president. The group said it endorsed Sanders based on his decision to spearhead the Green New Deal.
I’ve seen this story largely covered in that typical ESPN-ish way much of our political media (at least on most cable news outlets) discusses political matters. As if it’s just another point on a political scorecard rather than a rising influential group of young people who fear literal death from climate change deciding on the candidate they feel is most dedicated to helping prevent catastrophe. However, have y’all heard that a sizable portion of Australia is currently on fire?
Some 15.6 million acres and counting have already been torched. Additionally, 24 people have died, 1,400 homes have been destroyed, and according to one biodiversity expert’s count, an estimated 1 billion animals have been lost to the fires. The bushfires are so severe that they have already burned twice as much land as the fires in the Amazon rainforest. Speaking of those fires in the Amazon that ravaged a reported 65 percent of the Amazon basin, they were at their highest levels in a decade. Everyone – scientists, NGOs, and many global leaders – agree that the crisis is a political creation.
The Amazon has been decried as “lawless” as Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro (think Donald Trump with a bit more hair and way more homophobic outbursts), plans to open up the rainforest to land speculators, cattle ranchers, loggers and gold miners.
Indeed, last fall, a prominent economist said the damage to the Amazon rainforest may reach an irreversible “tipping point” within two years. Others argued that it’s 15 to 20 years away, but it matters not whether it will take between Beyoncé’s next solo album or Blue Ivy’s sophomore offering because with respect to oxygen, we need the s*** to breathe. Let’s protect the thing that provides that.
I invoke Captain Planet so often because it explained in very clear terms to a child what happens if pollution isn’t curbed. Many of those warnings are coming true.
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Like the water being so hot in Alaska’s Koyukuk river that dead salmon now float at the top of it. I’ve already started a prayer group for catfish and crawfish. Then there are the floods. And that dirty air, pretty much in most major cities.
And again, the fires. Australia is roughly the same physical size of the United States of America. I love California, but she’s turning into a candle. What if those fires spread here the way they have in Australia? Y’all know we don’t have as nice infrastructure as they do!
Given Bernie Sanders’ support of the Green New Deal, it makes sense for The Sunrise Movement to endorse his presidential bid. Even so, it’s telling that Jay Inslee, the only who said that he would make climate change the defining concern of his administration, quietly left the race last summer after drawing little attention to his campaign.
On the day he announced the end of his presidential bid, Inslee told MSNBC: “I’m going to help all the other candidates raise their level of ambition on this. We need all of them to raise their game.”
Unfortunately, it remains difficult to get climate change to become a larger topic of conversation within the political zeitgeist. At the fifth Democratic presidential debate, climate change received only one question, which I guess is better than the zero questions it received at the previous debate. It did finally get some attention at the sixth debate held in December, but note Bernie Sanders having to say at one point, “I will answer that question, but I wanted to go back to the issue of climate change for a moment.”
On the same day Sanders received his endorsement for his climate change stance, President Trump proposed a change to 50-year-old regulations that would speed the development of new mines, pipelines and hundreds of other projects around the country. Unsurprisingly, some of those projects could harm the environment and accelerate climate change. Not to be outdone, the move is said to possibly prevent communities from having as much say about what can be built in their backyards.
Imagine what happens if Trump is reelected. Imagine anyone that doesn’t prioritize climate change being elected president. Imagine what both means for the future.
Much like those young people in the Sunrise Movement, I worry about Mother Nature snuffing us out and strongly encourage everyone to support a candidate that not only acknowledges climate change but has a plan to actively deal with it. So a lot of us don’t die.