Climate critical 2022 issue
Election season is kicking into high gear, and if you’re worried about our ability to preserve a livable climate, this is a time ripe with opportunities to make your voice heard.
As members of Congress run for reelection – and as opponents campaign to unseat them – candidates make themselves more accessible in order to get in front of as many voters as possible. Town hall meetings, campaign events and online forums will be popping up throughout the country from now until November.
More than ever, politicians are listening very attentively to their electorates’ concerns and making pledges to address them. Many issues are competing for their attention – inflation, high gas prices, gun violence, the war in Ukraine – but there are reasons why climate change is a critical issue in this election:
It’s hot out there, and climate change – caused by heat-trapping emissions pushing temperatures higher – is increasing the severity and frequency of heat waves. Of all the weather-related deaths in the U.S. each year, heat is the biggest killer. Lake Michigan’s temperature was measured at 75.6 degrees on July 9, setting a 26 year record high and even Up North in Traverse City, the temperature stayed above 87 degrees for 11 days this summer. Wildfires no longer have a season; they happen year-round, fueled by climate change-induced heat and drought. Besides millions of acres burned every year and billions of dollars in damage, smoke from these fires makes people sick and sends them to the hospital. Michigan is not immune: in mid-July a wildfire got within a mile of the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.
Heavier rainfall, a result of warmer air holding and releasing more water, and changing weather patterns lead to more flooding that causes the kind of damage recently seen in metro Detroit neighborhoods.
As more and more Americans connect the dots between extreme weather disasters and climate change, Congress has come under pressure to pass climate legislation. We find tremendous hope in the “Inflation Reduction Act of 2022,” which is the long-hoped for version of the Build-Back-Better Act containing provisions for reducing carbon emissions 40 percent by 2030.
Concerned citizens here in Birmingham know that more will be needed in the next Congress to meet our commitment on emissions reductions. To make that happen, lawmakers need to get the message that climate action must be a priority. With the possibility that one or both chambers of Congress could flip in this election, bipartisanship will be the key to further progress on climate change. Advocates, therefore, must engage with lawmakers from both parties.
This is where the people need to show up… literally.
We need to show up at town hall events to share our concerns about climate change and ask what those seeking our vote plan to do about it. We need to show up at campaign events to tell incumbents and challengers that we’ll support those who prioritize climate change and back strong solutions. We need to show up, most importantly, at the polls in November, because whether or not you vote is public record, and politicians only care about the concerns of constituents who actually vote.
Pushing the climate issue during election season doesn't simply affect who ultimately wins that election. In fact, many races are already considered “safe” for one party or another. Instead, it's about making sure that every candidate, from any party, understands this critical issue and will prioritize solutions if and when they are elected. By showing up now, we can lay the groundwork for ambitious climate action in the next Congress.
Dr. Annis Pratt
Citizens Climate Lobby
Detroit Metro North Chapter
Citizens Climate Lobbby