by Vanessa Kritzer, League of Conservation Voters
When you wake up on November 7th, what kind of future do you want to
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?
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
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, LCVhas 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
Scorecardand 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).]