A year ago, climate change was gaining steam as a high priority concern for people around the world.
Greta Thunberg was in the midst of an American tour that was inspiring young and old to think about the consequences of inaction regarding climate. By February, nearly two-thirds of Americans ranked protecting the environment as a leading policy priority, according to a Pew Research Center survey. Environmentalists could not have asked for a better scenario going into an election year.
And then the coronavirus came to America. And then George Floyd was murdered before our very eyes — talk about putting a damper on momentum. The focus of America turned to what did or did not need to be done to keep America safe and/or prosperous. But the fact of the matter remains: Without a livable Earth, humanity won’t be safe or prosperous. We are at the tipping point of the direst existential threat of our existence.
Climate action must be taken immediately, and, as voters, we will play a huge role in whether this happens in time. We are about to elect the decision makers for the safety of future generations. Candidates must be determined to stand up to corporations who have been influencing the policies that have led us to this dangerous precipice. Fossil fuels must be kept in the ground, and America must turn its attention to energy alternatives that can keep us from a climate crisis, as well as create many new jobs. Candidates who take election support from corporations endangering our future may have a hard time voting against them on regulatory bills. Voters need to give attention to candidate platforms and donor lists.
Peaceworks initiated a “Vote for the Climate” campaign in September, and the green and white “Vote for the Climate” signs have been popping up in yards all over town. Assisted by the Osage Group of the Sierra Club and Climate Leaders at Mizzou, the campaign has been seeking to remind voters of the importance of action on climate and to educate them on where candidates stand on the issues.
Peaceworks does not endorse particular candidates but, rather, serves to inform voters on candidate views. Candidates in contested races in Boone County were offered the opportunity to share their views on climate change and how they plan to address it if they are elected. Those interviews are linked on Peaceworks’ webpage at midmopeaceworks.org. The Sierra Club does endorse candidates, and those endorsements can be found at bit.ly/MOSCEndorsements.
A major hope of the campaign is to inspire voters to get to the polls and support candidates who will work for a livable future for generations to come. Additionally, we hope to gain the attention of candidates and remind them that climate is still a top priority. If all goes well, climate will be a winner in the election this November.
Laura Wacker is the sustainability coordinator at Mid-Missouri Peaceworks and coordinator of the Columbia Area Earth Day Festival.