By this time in the year, you’ve probably been told to vote more times than you can count. With so much at stake in the election, it can be difficult to keep track of your state and local candidates’ stances on the issues that are important to you. If you love the Earth and want to keep enjoying it, vote! Here are two issues to pay attention to:
Protecting Public Lands
With the emphasis on social distance travel, many national and state parks have received record-breaking numbers of visitors. Beyond a great escape from everyday life, public lands should be protected for their cultural and historical significance, biodiversity, carbon absorption abilities, and more.
You might think of the famous national parks when you think of public lands, but so much more is included. State parks, city parks, and wilderness are a few examples of public lands protected to varying degrees.
Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed the Great American Outdoors Act with bipartisan support. This major achievement for conservationists guarantees funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, expands many wilderness areas across the country, and increases the protection of rivers and state forests.
Because public land protection and access has widespread public support, the upcoming election certainly motivated politicians up for reelection to show support. This bill is a sharp contrast to previous actions taken by the current administration, which have primarily slashed budgets and decreased protections.
When voting to protect public lands, look beyond the most recent actions and review your member of Congress’s history. Keep in mind that the president appoints the Secretary of Agriculture and the Secretary of the Interior, who both play a large role in decisions related to public lands.
Each passing year continues to highlight the urgency of climate action. While individual choices to live sustainably are valuable, structural change is necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and combat the climate crisis. To create this change, we need policymakers who see the urgency and are prepared to disrupt the status quo.
To prioritize the climate in this election, vote for candidates who don’t take money from the fossil fuel industry. Fossil fuel companies spend millions in political donations, and in exchange they receive subsidies and laws that benefit polluters.
Instead, vote for candidates who support the Green New Deal, which aims to make the US carbon neutral by 2030 and create more sustainable and efficient infrastructure across the country.
So many of the issues in the upcoming election relate to each other. We know that race and class are inextricably linked to climate change. Even access to well-maintained public parks has been shown to be unequal. It shouldn’t be controversial to say that everyone has the right to clean air. Voting is one of the best ways to start making your voice heard on the issues that affect all of us. If you want to keep enjoying the Earth as we know it, don’t forget to vote this November.