Some things I would love to hear from political candidates in Kansas about climate.
Climate change is a present crisis.
We need to act like it. That’s difficult to do because it’s a slow-motion, planet-scale crisis, and we can only really see it when we imagine it together, collectively. We start by naming it and talking about it and our fear about it.
We can’t fix this at a micro, personal, individual level.
Better light bulbs and electric cars and recycling will not fix it. We need macro level policy and infrastructure investment. We need to join with our neighbors (e.g. re-join the Paris agreement) .
Science is real.
We need to fund and listen to our scientists. That includes:
- strengthening the EPA and OSTP by requiring they report regularly to Congress on climate-related issues
- making Congress smarter, by increasing the scientific expertise directly available to Congress as it weighs policy decisions
We need to reduce the amount of carbon in the air.
That means eliminating our reliance on fossil fuels through a carbon tax and investment in alternative fuels, and changing our approach to land use (reforestation, soil improvement, what and how we farm and eat). That makes climate change an economic issue.
Kansas is getting hotter and wetter.
Climate change adaptation is already happening. We need public policy to reflect our need to adapt. We need the state and federal governments to invest in urban, agricultural and ecological planning to reflect that fact. That makes climate change a public health and safety issue.
Housing is always cheapest in the flood plain.
Climate change disproportionately affects low-income and historically disadvantaged communities. That makes climate change a civil rights issue.
No one expects you, as a candidate, to fix the problem.
That’s not what we’re asking of you. What we’re asking is that you talk about the problem, and that the story you tell about it reflects the anxiety and urgency that we feel about it. It helps to have you reflect that back to us, and that you are not afraid to go up to Topeka or Washington and stand up and say we need to do some big, bold and imaginative things to address it. Not one thing, but many things: it’s about both reducing CO2, and making the kind of structural, policy investments that will help our cities and towns and farms adapt.