When we moved to DC in 2002, I went as a believer in the system. I moved there to "change the world, man," and thought the political process was the way do to it. Five years working with advocacy organizations changed my mind and I left DC thinking most people involved with the national system were worthless and just playing a game to amuse themselves and gain individual power.
As a result, I haven't voted for a major party candidate for a national office in many years. I have consistently made use of the write-in option - even when I knew my vote could actually count. Both Virginia and Indiana have been battleground states in years that I've lived in them and cast votes for Gandalf and The Doctor. I believed that the "lesser of two evils" was still evil and I didn't want to endorse it.
In two sentences, Mitt Romney guaranteed my vote this year for Barack Obama. Sorry, Atticus Finch, you don't get my vote this time.
President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. MY promise...is to help you and your family.
This sentiment is so blatantly stupid, I can't even stand it. When I heard Romney utter it, I couldn't do anything but scream. Loudly. For two full minutes. I believe I now understand how people feel when they say their heads have exploded.
And he said it in a year when vast sections of the midwest are experiencing record drought, costing states, farmers AND FAMILIES billions of dollars.
To not understand that environmental issues are economic issues displays a serious, willful misunderstanding of how life works.
I know that drought is not always caused by climate change. I know that the dust bowls of nearly 100 years ago can't be blamed on our current use of oil. Sometimes drought is just a naturally occuring event that is not influenced by human action. And, THIS is exactly why we should be addressing environmental concerns within our control. There are going to be times that Mother Nature screws us over. We can recover and thrive in those years if we aren't screwing ourselves over in all the other years.
I've been meaning to reread Jared Diamond's Collapse and Romney's ignorance (and the ignorance of the people who would believe him) has prompted me to do it publicly. For the next few weeks, I'll share summaries of the chapters as I read them. Despite its title, Collapse is a very hopeful book. Jared Diamond - winner of a MacArthur genius award - describes why advanced societies have failed throughout history (spoiler alert: it's usually an environmental reason) and how we can learn from them to avoid their fates. He also shares examples of how good environmental policy enhances economic conditions and the health and stability of "you and your family."
Environmental issues have nothing - NOTHING - to do with saving whales and pandas. It's about saving people. It always has been.