If you're not sure, read this:
If the President of the United States was informed of evidence of a potential terrorist attack, would we want him to wait until he was 100% sure that the US was going to be attacked before he acted to prevent the attack? Of course not. We would want him to take steps to mitigate the risk, that is, make it less likely that the attack was going to occur, as soon as he knew about the potential threat.
Given the consequences of climate change could be much worse than the damage caused by a terrorist attack, it seems logical we would want the government officials representing us to do something similar in terms of climate change.
Although the scientists can not predict with 100% accuracy exactly what the consequences of climate change will be, if we continue on our current course, they do think the effects on the planet would be severe and devastating. The earth’s future includes: widespread flooding; severe storms like Sandy occurring on a regular basis; massive droughts like those we saw this past summer or worse, and the associated wildfires, becoming the norm rather than the exception; and, eventually, the desertification of massive areas of the world and the extinction of more than 50% of the plant and animal species.
Whether or not we’re 100% sure that climate change is occurring, continuing with the status quo means were taking a big risk. If it doesn’t occur, and we took steps to prevent it, we’ll have developed our alternative energy resources sooner than necessary, which is only to our advantage. If the reverse is true, and climate change really is occurring, and we didn’t do anything to stop it, well, it’s not a pretty picture.
The average citizen rarely has the opportunity to have a significant effect on climate change. With the upcoming election, we have just such an opportunity. We can choose to vote for government officials who we believe will mitigate the risk.
I think the risk from climate change is so great, and mitigating that risk is so important, climate change is the primary issue I am considering when I decide who to vote for.
Even if a candidate has not voiced an opinion on how they will respond to the risks from climate change, their relationship with the fossil fuel industry provides an indicator of where they stand on the issue.
In order to keep the temperature from rising more than 2ºC (the upper “safe” limit as agreed by the governments of the world), we can only afford to release one-fifth of the carbon dioxide stored in all the known oil, natural gas and coal reserves*. Companies that sell those fuels obviously will not be able to make as much as money if those fuels can not be burned. Candidates that are aligned with the fossil fuel companies will be less likely to mitigate the risk from climate change.
Who does the Earth belong to anyway? Does it belong to the fossil fuel companies? Do they have the right to compromise the future of the planet so they can keep making huge profits? Or does it belong to the citizens of this planet, us, our children, our grand-children, our great-grandchildren? Who will suffer from the consequences of climate change long after the executives of the fossil fuel companies have made their millions and gone to their graves?
As voters, we have the power to make a difference. It's a great responsibility, because the choices we make now have the power to affect generations to come. I hope you'll choose wisely.
*From “Global Warming’s Terrifying New Math”, Rolling Stone Magazine