Just in case you didn’t notice, the US election is next week, on Tuesday, November 3. We at Electrek ran a Climate Crisis Weekly roundup on October 10 with the headline, “Humanity’s future rests on American voters.” Someone on the subreddit r/JoeBiden declared, “Tech website Electrek backs Biden for president.” Our reaction to that? We’ll take it.
And here’s why. Electrek is for electric vehicles, green energy, slowing and eventually reversing climate change, and protecting and renewing the environment. And we’ll hop on whatever e-bus we have to ride in order to get closest to the goal of progressing those things.
So instead of rounding up the week’s climate change stories, we’ve done something different this week. Some of us in the 9to5 network explain — each with a unique perspective, from all over the US (and world) — why we back Joe Biden in the 2020 US presidential election. In short, it’s because he’s the e-bus that gets us closest to our destination. Because we believe, with a passion, in what we write about.
Michelle Lewis, writer, Electrek, St. Petersburg, Florida: I joined the Electrek team as an editor and a writer, and I then began to learn deeply — and write — about climate change and green energy. I’ve worked on some challenging topics over the years, from the war in Syria to refugees, European politics, women’s empowerment, and financial inclusion. I’ve also worked on “softer” topics, like music and travel. Little did I know that writing about climate change and green energy would be the hardest yet most meaningful issue by far — and also intersect with every other topic I’ve ever worked on.
This beat is an emotional roller coaster. I feel elation and excitement when I write about a new green energy innovation, a scientific breakthrough, or the launch of a wind or solar farm. I feel delight when the world’s major economies announce targets to reach net zero. I feel relief when Big Oil admits fossil fuels aren’t working and begin their pivot to renewables.
But I also feel fear, anger, frustration, and despair when I have to write about climate change denial, and yet another Environmental Protection Agency rollback in the US — and there have been so many. It’s also soul destroying to write about the Amazon burning, and the polar ice melting. It’s deflating to convey that the destruction of the environment and the pandemic are directly linked.
I watch a Swedish teenage girl leading the global youth fight for our planet’s future, and I see grown men post hateful comments in response. What makes them hate a young woman who wants what’s good? If they have children or grandchildren, would they speak about them that way?
I live in one of the most vulnerable states in the US to sea level rise and hurricanes. There are three of us here at 9to5 who jokingly refer to ourselves as the Gulf Coast Bureau — Florida, Louisiana, and Mississippi. And we spend most of our time discussing hurricanes and checking in on each other’s safety. On Thursday, one colleague in New Orleans luckily escaped the worst of Hurricane Zeta, another in Atlanta then woke up to surprise winds howling like she’d never heard before, and a third lost power in North Carolina. It all happened within hours. Hurricanes are normal. Record-breaking hurricanes like these in 2020 are not. We have never reached Hurricane Eta before — which just rapidly turned into a category 4 storm overnight.
This is a very emotive election for Americans, but I cast my vote based on policy. So Joe Biden got my vote, because it’s really quite simple: He has a plan to tackle climate change, and Donald Trump doesn’t. Is Biden’s plan exactly what I want? No. I want it to be more aggressive. I want to end fracking, for example. But it’s our last chance.
Trump will not just drag down the US, but the whole world without a net zero emissions target. There is no such thing as isolationism when it comes to climate change — what the US does can bring not only itself, but also countries as far away as Bangladesh or the Marshall Islands to their knees. And I care about my fellow humans — all of them. So I voted for humanity. Because without a planet, as some of my colleagues assert below, nothing else matters.
Fred Lambert, editor-in-chief, Electrek, Quebec, Canada: As a Canadian, I know people don’t really want to hear me talk about who to vote for in the US elections. But like it or not, the US has a major impact globally, and who is in power in the country has an effect around the globe, which is especially true when it comes to emissions and climate change.
Electrek has always been clear about its bias, and I want to make it clear again today. We promote the transition to sustainable transport and energy. Therefore, we are biased toward things that accelerate that inevitable transition. Whether you like it or not, it’s going to happen. Sustainability is the only alternative to extinction.
Based on everything we know about Trump and Biden, the former does not have a plan to accelerate this transition, while the latter does. Considering the value we place in this transition and its impact on curbing climate change, we think that it is the sensible thing to back Joe Biden and the Democrats in this election.
I understand if you align with Trump on other issues at stake. Personally, I don’t agree with everything Biden or the Democrats stand for, and I dislike the US two-party system that breeds an “us versus them” mentality.
But if we don’t address climate change, none of the other issues matter. We need to turn this wall into a peak:
Letting it rise higher to see what happens is not a desirable path. We know what happens on a smaller scale, with many cities around the world already covered by choking smog. Do we really want to know what how that’s going get worse if we don’t change path?
If we don’t accelerate our efforts, we will be robbing future generations of a livable environment with clean air and water.
Jameson Dow, writer, Electrek, Orange County, California: As I write this, I have been sitting in my home, windows closed, wearing a mask, for the past few days. I own this mask because of the pandemic that has spread unchecked due to incredible (and intentional) mismanagement by the federal government, killing hundreds of thousands of Americans — more than in any other country on Earth.
But I am wearing my mask inside because there’s a wildfire just miles upwind of where I live, as part of the increasingly long and intense wildfire seasons California and other regions are facing due to climate change. I’ve had asthma since I was a child, like millions of American children whose lungs were permanently damaged during early development by air pollution, so protecting myself from smoke is important.
But that’s just this week. This kind of stuff happens all the time, and then the 24-hour news cycle moves on to the next story and people forget about how much damage we’re doing to the world that sustains us.
While Americans agree on the presence of environmental problems and how we can solve them — by putting a price on pollution, focusing on non-polluting sources of energy, government forcing companies to clean up their act, and so on — environmental protection routinely ranks very low in “most important problem” polls.
In this way, Americans are objectively wrong. Environmental problems are the most important problems, whether the majority recognizes this to be the case or not. Food, water, air: These are the most basic needs of living things, and these are the needs that are most threatened by environmental damage. If we don’t have them, no other issues matter.
And environmental problems affect all the top issues Americans claim to care about. Going over some of the top problems from the Gallup poll above:
- The economy is depressed to the tune of $649 billion per year due to the costs of fossil fuel externalities in the US, according to the IMF. Meanwhile, environmental action could generate trillions of dollars of economic activity worldwide — and this would disproportionately help countries that find themselves on the “supplier side” of green technologies, which the US could be with enough effort.
- Our health gets worse when our lungs are under attack from pollution, killing millions worldwide per year, at a rate 15 times higher than war and all forms of human violence combined and causing millions of new cases of childhood asthma as well. And it’s not just our lungs, but pretty much every other organ that are affected.
- Novel respiratory viruses like COVID-19 spread more readily due to habitat destruction.
- National security gets harder as climate change destabilizes the world, as pointed out by none other than the US Department of Defense. Climate refugeeism will be a significant destabilizing force in coming decades.
- Environmental damage exacerbates problems related to race and socioeconomic class, as less-advantaged people tend to bear the brunt of environmental damage that’s disproportionately imposed by rich people nationally, and rich countries globally.
The environment is not separate from these problems, but inextricably linked to everything that any living creature does. We must stop thinking of it as one of a list of problems, and instead as the overarching issue that is more pressing to address than any other.
This is particularly true of climate change, which is the largest problem that humanity and the world has ever faced, and one for which we don’t have time to waste. The laws of physics will not work with us to find a compromise – we must act, and we must act now.
In this election, there is one leading candidate, Joe Biden, who actually has serious plans to address these environmental problems. The plans are not as strong as many of us would like them to be, but they’re stronger than any other US president has put forward in history. And if we need them to be stronger, we can work on holding him to task come January. That’s not something we’d be able to do with Biden’s opponent.
The first step of solving a problem is acknowledging it exists. Biden’s opponent, a former reality-TV host and failed businessman whose own actions (and the actions of his hangers-on) have shown nothing but ignorance and hostility to the environment at every — single — opportunity over the past four years, is not serious in this respect. Worse than having no plan to help the environment and fight climate change, he is in fact actively hostile to the world that provides you sustenance.
That means there is only one serious candidate to vote for. That candidate is Joe Biden. It’s that simple.
Mikey Gee, podcaster, Electrek, Salt Lake City: Both for easy consumption, and to stick to my strengths, I’ve contributed an audio recording. Referenced links are below:
References: modern sociologists study generational changes, cycles of chinese rule, ancient israelites sin and repent, book of mormon generational record, wealthy struggle to pass down wealth (unaddressed)
Ryan Kovatch, writer, 9to5Google, Portland: Humanity is facing a grave and defining truth: We have exhausted the air we breathe and the ground we stand on. For many, this has been something to grapple with — how can our planet, the shared constant of our lives, have an expiration date? It’s quite a thing to know that your home may die well before you do.
But it never had to be this way, and it never has to again. Right now, our country is wrought with selfishness. It eyes the penny over the planet, a philosophy that the United States has been so deeply saturated with, even prior to 2016. Uprooting such an evil requires swift and decisive action. It requires a plan.
There is one candidate on the ballot this year that has a plan. With the climate crisis looming, it is imperative that we vote for clean energy. That we vote for not only the future of our people, but the economic future as well. We have the opportunity to be world leaders in environmental sustainability — to no longer rely on poisonous, finite resources and instead champion clean, innovative forms of energy that are safer for all. Why don’t we seize it?
To our US readers: Make sure that you know what you’re voting for this election. Blue is the first step to making America green.
Ben Lovejoy, writer, 9to5Mac, London: There are times when two political parties might offer competing solutions to the same problem. That is not the case in this election. One party offers policies designed to address the problem, the other denies that the problem exists. It is much the same with COVID-19. This election is not about left versus right, or one path versus another: It is about fact versus fiction; science versus misinformation; action versus inaction. Given the legal maneuvering likely to follow a close result, every vote counts. Make sure yours is among them.
Micah Toll, writer and video creator, Electrek, Tel Aviv: As a dual US-Israeli citizen, I tend to take a more international outlook. I see the environment as a gift. We inherited it from the generations before us, and we’ll pass it along to the generations after us. The lines and borders we’ve drawn all over the globe are mostly ornamental in this respect. They mean nothing to the rivers, wind, and animals that cross them. While I write these words from halfway around the world, I breathe the same air as you and drink the same water. As far as the environment is concerned, you and I might as well be neighbors.
This outlook has led me to make certain conscious decisions in my life. Those who have read my reporting may already know that I don’t own a car (not even a Tesla, gasp!). Instead, I get around almost entirely by two-wheeled electric vehicles including electric motorcycles, electric bicycles, e-scooters, and the like. I just can’t justify wasting energy moving a 3,000 lb (1,300 kg) vehicle around with just me in it when an e-bike that weighs less than me can get the job done with a tiny fraction of the same energy.
My outlook has also helped shape what I do in life. Writing and creating videos for Electrek is rewarding not just creatively, but as a service that I feel I can provide to the world. Realistically, me commuting on my electric scooter makes such a small difference alone that it likely isn’t measurable. But when our millions of readers decide to make similar decisions, it actually effects measurable changes in our world.
Strength in numbers is a biological tool that our ancestors discovered long before us, yet is no less true today. And when it comes to preserving our environment, it will take serious strength in numbers.
One of the most effective ways we can use our strength in numbers to create positive change is to positively change our leadership. To say that the Trump administration is no friend to our environment is laughably inadequate. They have sold out our environment — something that for such a brief time belongs to all of us — in favor of profit for a few wealthy individuals.
But Joe Biden is different. He has made it clear that his administration will make environmental preservation and the battle against climate change the priority it deserves to be. That the priority is preserving our world, not enriching the elite.
Like it or not (and for reasons we won’t wade into here), the US is still the leader of the free world. The decisions and actions made in the US are felt around the planet many times over.
I am currently writing these words while sitting on the banks of the Jordan River. Few bodies of water carry such significance across history and cultures and beliefs and religions. Despite its beauty, despite its green water and its eucalyptus trees and the sounds of its wildlife, the once mighty Jordan is a now barely a stream. It no longer flows to fill the Dead Sea, the lowest point on the planet and which may no longer exist within our lifetime as it quickly runs dry. Instead, the Jordan sadly peters out just a few kilometers from where I sit.
And this is despite the vast conservation efforts that have been enacted locally. It is not enough for small, well-meaning countries to fight this climate battle on their own.
The world needs the leadership of the largest economies and the largest polluters on the planet. Climate actions taken in the US reverberate. They affect the entire world. And by extension, your vote affects not just the US but also the entire world.
This election is about so many things, but the environment is one that should be at the forefront of our minds.
For this reason, among others, I voted for Joe Biden. I voted for our environment instead of voting to further enrich the already-rich. I voted to preserve this beautiful gift we’ve received, and which we will pass on to our children and their children afterward.
And I hope you will vote with me. Strength in numbers. Our environment has been here for us our entire lives. Isn’t it time that we’re here for her?
Seth Weintraub, publisher, 9to5 network, New York City: Readers of this site know where we stand on environmental issues and global warming in particular. Joe Biden is the no-brainer choice there, obviously. If you happen to be an electric car or Tesla fan, Joe Biden plans to bring back incentives and likely increase them. He’s going to spend $2 trillion on the Green New Deal and green Infrastructure including solar and wind incentives. Donald Trump? Disaster!
So I was trying to think of a reason why a reader of Electrek might vote for Trump, and the best rationale I could come up with is a very selfish one: Taxes. I imagine a lot of Tesla owners like myself may expect to pay more income tax with Biden and Democrats in control.
Biden won’t change the tax rate for those making under $400,000 a year. But for those making more than $400,000 a year, here’s a few reasons why your extra tax money is well spent:
1. The US deficit has exploded under Trump, even before the pandemic. What that basically means is the US has to print more money, and it means every dollar you have is worth less.
2. As much as he loves to say “clean air and clean water,” Trump has poisoned both. What good is having a few extra dollars if the air and water we use is worse off? Plus, don’t forget the catastrophic impact of rising water and a hotter planet. Where are your kids going to ski and snowboard?
3. Healthcare. Trump is a circus here. Biden isn’t perfect either, but closer to getting single payer, which will take the onus off employers and let the state take care of medical expenditures.
4. Standing in the world. The US is currently a laughingstock. The mishandling of the coronavirus is just the latest gaffe of the Trump administration.
5. Joe Biden isn’t super liberal. Giving tax breaks to the 1% to the point where they often pay less of a percentage than teachers, nurses, and factory workers, etc. is driving the proletariat toward revolution. Let’s pay our fair share!
Joe Biden is a bargain. Go vote!
Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP
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