2020 has been the year of the unthinkable. It has been the year that climate change has become an unavoidable reality in American life. Record wildfires on the West Coast have destroyed homes, businesses, caused mass evacuations and turned the sky blood-red; wildfires that have been so big that the smoke was spotted halfway around the world in Germany. August 2020 has been the hottest summer month on record for the northern hemisphere. Meteorologists have been forced to resort to Greek letters to name the number of Atlantic hurricanes this year. Here in Minnesota, we have been shielded from the worst of these natural disasters. But we do face challenges of our own, challenges which we cannot afford to ignore.
Minnesota is one of the fastest-warming states in the U.S., with winters warming 13 times faster than summers. Less extreme winters are already changing our ecological landscape. Species adapted to colder winters are moving northward, and are being replaced by species from warmer climates. We are even at risk of losing our state bird, the loon, as its range moves further and further into Canada. Diseases like soybean rust are also moving into Minnesota and soon will be devastating our summer crop yields.
Despite all this, President Trump is still pushing the narrative that there is a lack of a scientific consensus on climate change. His inaction on and denial of the very real changing climate threatens our ecosystems, our future, and all of our lives.
Fortunately, we have a chance to change this narrative. Joe Biden is on the ballot this year, and he sees climate change not only as a very immediate threat but as an opportunity to make lasting positive change.
“If we can harness all of our energy and talents, and unmatchable American innovation, we can turn this threat into an opportunity to revitalize the U.S. energy sector and boost growth economy-wide. We can create new industries that reinvigorate our manufacturing and create high-quality, middle-class jobs in cities and towns across the United States,” former Vice President Biden’s Climate Plan.
Biden knows that the production of clean energy technologies can and will reinvigorate the American industrial economy. His clean energy plan is bold and sweeping, pledging a “clean energy economy and net zero emissions by 2050.” He plans to take on the fossil fuel industry head-on by investing $400 billion in clean energy innovation and creating thousands of new jobs in these new industries.
Biden recognizes that low-income and minority communities are disproportionately harmed by the effects of climate change, from pollution to flooding to heat waves. He plans to pursue legal action against corporations whose pollution directly threatens the health of American citizens, even threatening jail time to the worst of the polluters.
Youth currently have the lowest level of voter turnout in the U.S., but we are on track to change that. In the 2018 election, we had a national youth voter turnout of 36%, a 79% increase compared to 2014. This is progress, but it’s not good enough. In order to have our voices heard in record numbers this year we need every single one of us to not only vote, but to also make sure everyone around us votes. Reach out to friends and family and ask them if they have voted yet. If they have not, encourage them to do so and help provide the resources to make it easier for them. The most important thing you can do to save our planet is to vote!
We are now at a crucial inflection point. Our climate decisions in the next five years will make or break the future of this country and the world. Biden knows this and is prepared to take action to make the future of this country a prosperous one. We, the youth, are the most underrepresented group in American politics. It is up to us to decide what our future will look like.
We are faced with a decision this election year. We have seven years before we burn through our carbon budget. Will we vote to save our planet, or spend the rest of our lives trying to reverse the legacy of a second Trump term? Each year that goes by without action, the climate crisis worsens. Four more years of American inaction will drastically alter our future. Biden is the only candidate that understands the gravity of our situation, and he is willing to act on it. This election, vote for the only candidate that will fight for our American future, former Vice President Joe Biden.