The climate isn’t interested in political stump speeches. And, sadly, too many politicians and media elites don’t seem to care that much about the climate – at least based on the miniscule attention this monumental issue has garnered so far on the campaign trail.
We need to change that dynamic, and this election season gives us an important opportunity to speak out.
Regardless of your political leanings, one fact should be obvious – if we are ever going to pass strong, lasting national climate and energy legislation to slash America’s global warming pollution, we need to work with liberals, conservatives, and moderates to build sustainable public support.
The good news is that the vast majority of Americans agree that climate change is an important issue and that our leaders should address it. We should leverage this and put pressure on political candidates about the need to seriously confront the climate crisis.
Between now and November 6th, in every community across the country, there will be political rallies, townhalls, campaign events, voter registration drives, get-out-the-vote canvassing, election phone-banking, and more. Take advantage. Participate in these events and talk with your neighbors – and, when possible, directly with political candidates – about the importance of addressing climate change in a serious, comprehensive way.
Whether your elected officials are climate deniers or climate action advocates, they need to hear from you. Because, one thing is certain, in politics, the squeakiest wheels get the environmentally friendly, biodegradable lubricant.
Let’s be squeaky wheels. Let’s declare ourselves Pro-Climate Voters. And let’s commit to using this political campaign to get our message across.
Here are some ways you can help get the message out:
- Get involved in your local campaigns. Every city and town in the country has some way to connect with political parties and get involved in local campaign events. And the internet makes it extremely easy to connect locally and sign up to volunteer.
- Do your homework. Find out where your candidates stand on climate change and incorporate that into your conversations, i.e. “I really like candidate ___. But I wish he/she understood the importance of climate action.” Or, “I’m really pleased that candidate ___ is such a strong supporter of climate action.”
- Speak out. As you engage with people on the campaign trail, talk about the fact that you are a Pro-Climate Voter. Regardless of your positions on other issues, make this part of your conversations with your neighbors.
- Strength in numbers. If you have the opportunity to attend a campaign rally or event, make a handheld sign declaring yourself a Pro-Climate Voter. It helps if you can drag friends and family to events to stand next to you with their own Pro-Climate Voter signs.
- Use social media. Echo your support for climate action via online social media by commenting on political candidates’ Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and other online channels. Believe us, these comments are closely monitored by campaign staff. With enough comments, we will get their attention.
- Keep it simple. You don’t have to be a climate scientist to understand the basics. Carbon dioxide is a heat-trapping gas. We emit CO2 into the atmosphere with every gallon of gas guzzled or pound of coal burned. CO2 has increased in our atmosphere by about a third since the Industrial Revolution. The planet is getting hotter and will continue to warm unless we substantially reduce carbon (and other greenhouse gases). Not one of these statements is in dispute.
- Be respectful. People of many different backgrounds may agree or disagree with you on climate change. It serves no purpose to get into a shouting match. An easy standby if you encounter a climate denier is to ask simply, “What if you’re wrong? What if climate change is as bad as the scientists project? What then? Maybe we should think about that too?”
Finally, keep in mind, we won’t win this issue unless and until we win over some folks who are skeptical and get others who are apathetic to at least start engaging. You’re never going to convince everyone, but through respectful dialogue, we can buttress climate action champions and perhaps begin to make changes across the spectrum.
One way or the other, 2013 will be a very important year for climate action. By doing our part, we can apply political pressure on the campaign trail and increase the odds of breakthrough action.