by guest blogger Wendy Gordon, pioneer in the green consumer movement
I doubt it. In fact, according to a study conducted by researchers at Yale and George Mason University, among voters who just a few weeks ago were undecided about which presidential candidate to vote for today, 80 percent believe that global warming is happening and 83 percent want the U.S. to use more renewable energy (solar, wind, and geothermal).
So as I sit here in the relative safety of my apartment—just a few miles north and a handful of feet higher than Sandy’s surge-ravaged neighborhoods—in the company of several superstorm “refugees” whose own homes are flooded and without power, I have to wonder what’s it going to take to move our politicians.
We voters get it. We’re experiencing it up close and personal. We’re feeling the pain in lives lost and property destroyed. And we can’t wait anymore. We don’t need every dot connected, every question answered. We want action—and that includes those among us who consider themselves “undecided.”
According to a 2012 survey conducted by Yale/George Mason University, 61 percent of “undecided voters” say global warming will be an important issue in determining which candidates they will vote for. Similarly, the polling released last week by Public Policy Polling found that undecided voters in eight swing states favor presidential and congressional candidates who support clean air and clean energy policies over those who don’t.
By a roughly 2-to-1 ratio, these voters believe that the Environmental Protection Agency needs to set standards to lower carbon pollution, rather than viewing such limits as bad for business and thus inappropriate.
Our local leaders here in New York get it. “We have a 100-year flood every two years now,” Governor Cuomo told reporters last Tuesday while inspecting the damage to one of the world’s best, but also one of the oldest, mass-transit systems. “We have a new reality when it comes to these weather patterns.”
Mayor Bloomberg, who decided his view on climate change some time ago, wrote this last Thursday in an editorial on Bloomberg.com: “Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be—given the devastation it is wreaking—should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”
You may not want to listen to a blue state governor or a NYC mayor, but you might want to heed the warning of one of the world’s largest private reinsurance companies: Munich Re. In a press release accompanying a new report, “Severe Weather in North America,” the company states plainly that “Climate change particularly affects formation of heat waves, droughts, intense precipitation events, and in the long run, most probably also tropical cyclone intensity.”
More of our politicians need to come to grips with this new reality. Extreme weather is no joke, and no matter how you slice up the American electorate, we are overwhelmingly “pro-life,” in the sense of the word used by Thomas Friedman in his column last weekend: We want clean air and water, we respect and care for all living things, and according to the same Yale/George Mason University poll cited above, we want our politicians to do more to combat life-threatening climate change.
Pundits have been asking how Sandy might disrupt today’s election. I hope the answer is: a lot. Climate change is not a hoax; it’s deadly serious. And it’s long past time for politicians to deal with it head-on. Or step aside. The choice today is clear, so go vote…for the decideds.
Wendy Gordon is a leader in the green-consumer movement. She founded Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet and Green Guide, a resource for the eco-conscious consumer. She is now a consulting editor for the Natural Resource Defense Council and OnEarth, its online magazine.