Climate legislation is finally here: It’s time to vote for your future

A sign announces a water ban, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, in Scituate, Mass.
(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
A sign announces a water ban, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, in Scituate, Mass. The impacts of climate change have been felt throughout the Northeastern U.S. with rising sea levels, heavy precipitation and storm surges causing flooding and coastal erosion. This summer has brought another extreme: a severe drought that’s made lawns crispy and has farmers begging for steady rain. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Just when despair seemed unyielding, when gridlock in Washington was an accepted norm, when extreme heat, droughts and floods wrought suffering and global temperatures hit records, congressional Democrats gave us hope for a better future and a time to be proud of our country.  

Let’s celebrate the landmark climate change legislation they just passed. Combined with the climate change funding included in the infrastructure bill and the CHIPS Act, the U.S. is now a global leader in confronting the greatest challenge of our time.  

But as much as this historic agenda has charted a path towards progress — one that helps protect the planet while fostering sustainable growth — it also faces an army intent on undermining it. We must not forget that Republican support for the Inflation Reduction Act was nonexistent and their support for the infrastructure and CHIPS legislation was meager. 

The planet is warming, sea levels are rising, extreme weather is mounting and staple crops face unprecedented threats. The midterm elections are coming into view and, with our future on the line, we must remember that Republicans don’t seem to care about it. It’s time that we elect those who do. 

Fortunately, we have that opportunity on Nov. 8. The seats of 22 Senate and all House Republicans are on the line, of which 109 — that’s over 50 percent — don’t accept the science of climate change. In addition, there will be elections for Republican governors, state legislators and other elected officials. This includes close to two dozen Republican state treasurers who are thwarting progress by protecting fossil fuel companies and punishing companies that are trying to reduce their emissions. Other Republicans are attacking Wall Street for efforts to factor in the long-term environmental risks when making investment decisions.  

This is our opportunity to ensure a less dangerous and more climate change resilient future. It’s time to get involved politically. If we don’t, then the Republicans will continue to deny, obstruct and delay progress in addressing climate change. 

Here’s the future that the Republicans apparently want for all of us: 

For me, with an estimated remaining life expectancy of 12 years, I will witness a world with heat waves occurring every other year instead of once per century like today and an Arctic melting four times faster than expected, affecting the intensity of the weather where I live. If you live about another 20 years, the chances are very large wildfires will increasingly be scorching the Western U.S., and even the Southeast, including Florida and Georgia. If another 30 years, you will witness disruptions and flooding occurring 10 times more often than today because of sea level rise. If 50 more years, it may feel very crowded in the northern states as millions of people will have moved there for cooler climes. And if born in current times, with 80 years to go, you will face up to seven times the amount of extreme weather as a child born in 1960 and a U.S. up to 12°F hotter

Republicans voted in favor of this future — your future.  

It’s time to fight the fight and make the political changes that are essential to our future and that of our country. Republicans are out of sync with what we want and need. Over 70 percent of us believe that the climate is changing, over half understand that it is mostly caused by humans, and 30 percent are very worried about it. In addition, about 60 percent of us think that climate change should be a government priority. It’s time to elect those who accept the facts, and truly represent most Americans.  

Between now and the November general election make sure you are registered and understand your state’s rules associated with early, absentee and mail-in ballots. Volunteer, donate, spread the word door to door and talk to your neighbors who are likely also thinking about climate change, or those who may be deniers. Reach out to unaffiliated and independent voters. There‘s a long list of actions you can take.

If you need a little motivation, consider that most of our youth feel frightened about their future. Now imagine a Republican majority in the Senate or the House. Absolutely frightening for all of us. 

Your future is on the line, and they don’t care about it — it’s time that we elect those who care. 

Mike Hoffmann is professor emeritus at Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and a faculty fellow with the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. He is lead author of “Our changing menu: Climate change and the foods we love and need (Cornell Press 2021).” He has done a TEDx, “Climate Change: It’s time to raise our voices” and teaches an eCornell climate change leadership course

Tags CHIPS Act Climate change Climate change skepticism and denial Inflation Reduction Act midterms 2022 Politics of the United States Republicans
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