The Oberlin Review

Candidates Neglect Climate Change Dialogue

Amanda Tennant, Contributing Writer

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With only a few weeks left until the general election, the candidates have debated a variety of domestic and foreign topics. Yet climate change and the United States’ role in combating it has barely been addressed by the two leading political party candidates; this lack of attention to one of the most important topics facing the world today is deeply troubling.

The Scripps Institution of Oceanography announced Sept. 23 that carbon dioxide levels have reached an overwhelming milestone at 400 parts per million — a juncture gravely anticipated by climatologists as the planet’s tipping point. While scientists assert that this level of carbon emissions is not immediately fatal, it presents serious consequences for both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems in the near future. We are going to see disrupted food chains in the ocean, rising sea levels and extinction of one fourth of all animal species by 2050, according to Vice.

It is baffling that despite being an issue that affects everyone on the planet, climate change has been largely ignored during this election cycle. The National Oceanic Service estimated that ocean-based services such as fishing and maritime transportation contributed $282 billion to the United States’ 2011 GDP. According to National Geographic, 13.1 million Americans will be affected by the rising sea levels through increased flooding and evacuations from homes and communities due to coastal erosion. While much information about climate change and its effect on the planet is public knowledge, the government has not taken the radical actions needed to halt rising carbon levels. Instead of thinking of solutions, leading political figures such as Indiana Governor and Vice Presidential Nominee Mike Pence have been bashing climate change, even declaring that we need to end the “war on coal.”

This is going to be our struggle over the next few decades. Millennials are going to be the ones dealing with the consequences of the devastating milestone we just passed. As young people, this is the fight of our future. Beyond whatever actions we can achieve to reduce our individual footprints, we need to write to our elected representatives and call for substantial environmental legislation. If we cannot overcome ignorance and political gridlock, we will be facing more and more calamitous consequences of climate change.

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