Why Democratic Presidential Candidates Should Make Climate Change Their #1 Issue

tags: climate change, 2020 Election

Walter G. Moss is a professor emeritus of history at Eastern Michigan University a Contributing Editor of HNN. For a list of his recent books and online publications click here. His most recent book is In the Face of Fear: Laughing All the Way to Wisdom(2019), which treats humor from a historical perspective.

If you’re a progressive and look at all the Democratic candidates for the 2020 presidential election, you might wonder which one to support. (I realize some progressives may not support any Democrat, but that’s another issue.) Personally, I’ve decided to wait and see how things develop—for primary voters in many states, including California and Michigan (my own state) we still have almost a year to decide.

But I do know one thing: for me the top issue is climate change, and I would argue that it should be for progressives generally. The most important reason is that nothing else—including medical care, the economy, income inequality, immigration, racism, or the gender or race of a candidate—is more important. I say this as a grandfather of six, who is thinking not only of the welfare of my generation, but also of our children’s and grandchildren’s generation.

Here I will refrain from trying to convince doubters that it most certainly is the #1 issue. 36 years ago, I wrote that “the increased burning of fossil fuels might cause an increase in global temperatures, thereby possibly melting the polar ice caps, and flooding low-lying parts of the world.”  For an update on that situation, see the 2015 Time article, “New Orleans and Miami Are Doomed to Be Swallowed by the Sea, Says New Study,” or the April 2019 PBS Newshour segment that proclaimed that the ice on Antarctica (a continent larger than the U.S. and Mexico combined) is melting much faster than expected and that continued rapid melting could imperil low-lying cities (like New York, Boston, and Miami), and countries like Bangladesh. My first global-warming essay on this site was posted almost a decade ago, and since then there have been many more, including “Trump’s Worst Sin,” which identifies it as his anti-environmental policies. Interested readers can view some of these works for why I think climate change is, and has been for some time, our most pressing crisis.

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