What’s at Stake for the Places We Love this Election
by Vanessa Kritzer, League of Conservation Voters
When you wake up on November 7th, what kind of future do you want to have ahead?
A future in which your children – and the generations beyond them – will have the opportunities to play in the same forests, discover the same animals, climb the same mountains, and swim in the same lakes that have been such an important part of your life? A future when you don’t have to worry that the air you breathe and the water you drink may be endangering your life and the lives of your loved ones? Or a future in which Big Oil and Dirty Coal are given free rein to pollute our environment, put our public health at risk, and hasten global warming in order to protect their billions of dollars in profits?
[Above: The author shares why she votes the environment during Wilco's concert at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, Vienna, Virginia. Photo: @LCVoters]
You might think that no election could have such a major impact on your life, but the decisions we make this November – and the leaders we elect – will make all the difference in whether we can protect the places and way of life that we love going forward.
The rash of heat waves, droughts, wildfires, extreme storms, and floods we’ve been seeing in recent months aren’t a fluke. As renowned climate scientist James Hansen recently put it, “It is no longer enough to say that global warming will increase the likelihood of extreme weather and to repeat the caveat that no individual weather event can be directly linked to climate change. To the contrary, our analysis shows that, for the extreme hot weather of the recent past, there is virtually no explanation other than climate change.” Climate change is happening and the effects on our planet will only get worse if we do not take bold action soon.
As a native of Seattle, Washington, I’ve always been invested in protecting the mountains, lakes, and forests that are as much a part of my home as the living room. But it wasn’t until this year that I decided to join the team at the League of Conservation Voters – a non-profit organization that works to turn environmental values into national priorities – because I realized that the best way I can protect those special places is by making sure we elect pro-environment legislators who will create strong conservation laws and work to implement policies to address the climate crisis.
But how do you get those pro-environment lawmakers in office? The most important step: educating voters about why the environment should be a priority topic in an election and then telling them which candidates are advocates for strong conservation policies. Ever since the first Earth Day in 1970, the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) has been doing that work. So that’s why we were so excited to have the chance to partner with Patagonia on the Vote the Environment project this year to get the word out and influence voters in this crucial election.
For our piece of the project, we’re providing the resources from our National Environmental Scorecard, which allows you to look up how your members of Congress voted on the key environmental bills every year. This includes votes on clean energy, global warming, public health, public lands and wildlife conservation, and spending for environmental programs. For the past four decades, LCV has convened a council of experts from a variety of environmental organizations to decide on which votes to count when calculating legislators’ scores (meaning what percentage of the time they voted for policies that would protect our planet). Every year we publish those scores so that anyone can learn at a glance how their legislators fared and can hold them accountable for their votes.
[Sample page from the National Environmental Scorecard.]
And there’s a lot to be accountable for this year. In 2011, LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard reflected the most anti-environmental session of the U.S. House of Representatives in history, featuring unparalleled assaults on our nation’s bedrock environmental and public health safeguards. What led to this radical Congress? In the 2010 election, voters put anti-environment candidates in office – many who had run campaigns fueled by money from the dirty energy industries – and not surprisingly, those members of Congress used their power to push policies that put polluters’ profits over the people they were supposed to be representing.
With so much at stake for our planet, we can’t afford to let those members keep their seats in Congress, stalling action on climate change and attempting to roll back environmental safeguards. If you hope to have a future in which the places you love and your way of life are protected, please take a moment to find out how your members of Congress stacked up by visiting our National Environmental Scorecard and share it with others in your community.
And if you want to do more to get voters thinking about the environment, please sign our petition calling on the moderator of the first presidential debate, Jim Lehrer, to ask President Obama and Governor Romney how they plan to address the climate crisis.
Millions of voters will get their information about the presidential candidates by watching the debates this fall. With a moderator like Jim Lehrer – whose show, the PBS NewsHour, has often covered climate change with the gravity that it requires – we have a real chance to generate a substantive discussion about global warming on the national stage… if he asks the candidates about the issue.
To add your name and help us reach our goal of 50,000 signatures, click here.
To visit LCV’s National Environmental Scorecard, click here. To learn more about what’s happening at the state and local level, take a look at what our state leagues are up to here. Please check out Patagonia's Vote the Environment here.
Vanessa Kritzer is the Online Campaigns Manager for the League of Conservation Voters.
Want to participate in our Vote the Environment Twitter campaign? Just fill in the blank "I vote the environment #becauseilove _________" and share with your social network. Add a picture to your tweet like Vanessa did by downloading and printing the sign below – bonus points for taking the picture at the place you love. Tweets with the #becauseilove tag will be shown on our website and projected on stage at Wilco concerts this summer.
[Click for the full-sized image then right-click to download (Mac users CTRL-click to download).]