A vote to save the planet
Tipping points... by definition, a climate tipping point is ‘a threshold where a tiny change could push a system into a completely new state’. There are at least 9 tipping points that could be activated at any moment. We are on the verge of crossing a point of no return, where higher temperatures cause the melting of (white, reflective) arctic ice that causes the earth to absorb more heat that causes more wildfires, that causes more and - you get the picture.
The last five years have been the hottest ever recorded on earth, wildfires have scorched the earth from California to Lebanon, heatwaves are baking Europeans, glaciers in Greenland melting impossibly fast, and temperatures briefly bursting 100F (38C) in the arctic. Yes, you read that right, the Arctic had a temperature of 100 F.
Dramatic? Perhaps. But urgency has never been so necessary, and according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, we have 10 years to halve carbon emissions to avoid a climate catastrophe. Not to mention, the world may have just seen the world’s highest temperature ever, in Death Valley recording a preliminary high of 129.9F (54.4C) on August 16th. Yes, the situation is becoming dire, and with world leaders dragging their feet on taking effective climate action, we are running out of time.
So, what’s voting got to do with things? The Paris Climate Accord was a monumental deal, when after decades of negotiations, all 197 nations in the world agreed to voluntarily reduce heat-trapping CO2 emissions. Fast forward four years, and the world’s second-largest emitter is weeks away from leaving.
Aside from the Trump administration reversing 100 environmental rules to protect the fossil fuel industry, in 2017 - Donald Trump announced that the United States would be leaving the Paris Climate Accord, the only global agreement that was holding countries together to fight the impending crisis. In a coincidence of timing, the US will exit the day after the election, joining Iran and Turkey as the only major countries not to participate in the agreement. November 4th, 2020 will go down as one of the most important days in history.
So, what can you do? Beyond trying to reduce your own environmental impact by eating a plant-based diet, or flying less, or any of the other wonderful individual actions you can take... You can exercise your right to vote. Voting for a candidate that aligns with your planetary beliefs has never been so important.
A vote has immeasurable power, and is an instrumental, yet sometimes underrated way of protecting the planet. Take the recent municipal elections in France which “yielded a string of victories for environmentalists, with several major cities swinging Green.” The unprecedented showing for Europe Écologie Les Verts, a once minor political party, means Green mayors will take charge in Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux and Strasbourg. This is an important victory, one that was only achieved by voting!
The United States is not the only country that is falling behind on its climate action response, with the EU signing a landmark economic stimulus plan in light of the pandemic recession that only earmarks 30% of the entire package for climate protection purposes. This is a great list of the countries doing the most (and least) for climate change, with Denmark doing the most, within the group of wealthier countries, and Burundi doing the least, within the poorer countries.
To sum it all up, keep your eye out on elections in your country or city, whether it’s on a national or municipal level. These elections are more important than ever in our uphill battle to mitigate climate change.
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