Author: Jed Lee
1. We don’t have time. The recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN collection of scientists, researchers, and academics working to advise global policy makers, states that humans have until 2030, just twelve years, to stop the effects of irreversible climate change. Our world’s current pathway towards 1.50C (2.7oF) will bring about devastating climate catastrophe as early as 2040, such as the destruction of the global food system, the death of our oceans, and widespread war and violence. Every half degree hotter it gets will exponentially exacerbate the severity of what is to come. Science and research show that given our trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, we could very likely shoot past two degrees C to three or even four degrees, which would be the absolute worst case scenario.
2. We don’t have time. Our world today will never be the same. Humans’ enormous consumption patterns in a materialistic and profit driven capitalistic society throughout history have ransacked our earth. Over half of the tropical forests have been cut down. The global fish stock has declined by 90% since 1950. Over half of the land on earth has been modified by humans. We need to vote for candidates who recognize the need for conservation and preservation of our remaining environment.
3. We don’t have time. Biodiversity is crucial towards achieving sustainability and maintaining genetic stability. Due to climate change, the biodiversity of our planet is critically endangered. Species all over the world are rapidly becoming endangered or extinct. Species have been going extinct at 1000-10,000 times the natural rate, with dozens going extinct daily. Scientists proclaim that we have long since entered the 6th Mass Extinction, the only mass extinction to be caused entirely by humans. We need to vote for candidates and propositions that value conservation and interspecies equity.
4. We don’t have time. The glaciers are quickly melting. Ocean levels are rising faster than we ever imagined. Small islands in the Pacific are going under. Coastal cities like Miami, New York, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Manila will be underwater within a matter of years. Sea level rise will only exacerbate storm surge and the severity of natural disasters in the future. We need candidates who recognize the immediacy of this issue.
5. We don’t have time. People’s lives are being devastated by climate change NOW. Climate disasters have been causing destruction and suffering all over our planet. Major storms like Hurricane Florence in North Carolina or Super Typhoon Mangkhut in the Philippines have destroyed homes and livelihoods. Wildfires have scorched California in the light of a long time drought. Flooding in Indonesia have killed hundreds. People are dying NOW. All of the people being impacted are disproportionately poor, of color, and underrepresented in our society. We need candidates who actively advocate for environmental and social justice.
6. We don’t have time. Climate change exacerbates poverty. In addition to massively affecting poor parts of the United States, most of the impacts of climate change will be concentrated in the Global South, which has been historically impoverished by Western colonial imperialism. These countries don’t have the development infrastructure to adapt to the effects of climate change.
7. We don’t have time. It’s going to cause major resource shortages of food, water, energy, healthcare, and more. Access to clean water is in critical danger and will only get worse in the face of climate change. Food systems are being destroyed by major storms and flooding in the short term, and by rising temperatures and variable rain patterns in the short term. Access to electricity and power will be severely restricted and rationed to those who can afford it (the rich).
8. We don’t have time. This is all going to cause outright chaos. Climate refugees from devastated countries are going to be fleeing North to escape tragedy, loss, and conflict. Wars are going to be fought over resources and power. Diseases are going to run rampant and no one is going to have adequate health care. People are going to die. People are going to die. People are going to die. We need candidates who focus on preventing this absolute worst outcome by holding corporations accountable for their greenhouse gas emissions and understanding who is most affected by them.
9. We don’t have time. Our future generations deserve a chance for life on earth. In the coming years, children will be born into a world that is on fire, riddled with disease, war torn, and underwater. If we want the world that our youth inherit to be beautiful, peaceful, and healthy, we need to do absolutely everything we can to transition to a society that is sustainable and just.
10. We don’t have time. We don’t have time to wait for another election cycle. The time is now. This issue isn’t pretty. It’s beyond scary. But there is something tangible you can do. Voting is a simple first step that you can do to make a difference. Voting in candidates who recognize that climate change is imminent and are committed to changing the dominant narrative of viewing our environment as disposable and instrumental for human consumption is the only way we can begin to stand a chance at turning this around. Make your voice heard this upcoming Midterm Election by voting for candidates and propositions that value you, your future, and the future of our world.
* This is opinion piece by staff member Jed Lee, Students of Color Environmental Collective Mentorship Program Coordinator
Original article can be found here