Why We’re Fighting Like Hell to Win

It was a Saturday during fire season. My partner and I drove up to visit his family, who live less than a hundred miles from where the Kincaide Fire was burning in Sonoma County, California. 

The air was thick, smokey, and hard to breathe, giving their town a grayish tinge. 

After lunch, my partner’s grandmother got up to scrub the dishes, even though we begged her not to. At almost 90, she’s medically fragile. All of a sudden, she started wheezing. We called the EMTs. As we waited, she gave funeral instructions in between gasps of breath. 

As a Sierra Club staff member and an activist with the youth climate organization the Sunrise Movement, I spend a lot of time talking and writing about “the climate emergency.” On that Saturday, the climate emergency came crashing through my door. What I’m fighting for became clearer than ever. I need my loved ones to be able to breathe and be safe from extreme weather and wildlifes. There is no option but to win a world where that is the reality for everyone’s grandparents, parents, and children. 

That’s why the 2020 election is so crucial. In 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released a report saying that if we wanted to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, we had 12 years to slash emissions. On a federal level, we’ve already squandered two of those years -- one-sixth of the time we have left. In 2020, we need a president who will address the climate crisis with the seriousness it demands from the moment they take office -- not one who delights in giveaways to the fossil fuel industry, which it’s estimated will cause nearly 6 million deaths annually by 2030. 

If this election were only about climate change, that would be weighty enough. But much more is on the line. This election will decide whether we continue to live in a society where men who perpetrate sexual violence escape accountability on college campuses, on the Supreme Court, in the president’s cabinet, and in the White House. Where schoolchildren are taunted with chants of “build the wall” and “go back where you came from.” Where we build walls and allow those who have fallen on hard times to go hungry

I don’t want to live in that America. And I bet you don’t either. This year, we have an incredible opportunity to elect a president with a bold, ambitious climate plan. Support for clean energy policies, and even for supposedly radical platforms like a Green New Deal, is at a record high. We can have clean air and clean water in every community, good union jobs in green sectors, and an economy that prioritizes people and planet over profit. We’re just going to have to fight like hell to get there. 

That starts -- but certainly won’t end -- with this election. We need you to text, to phonebank, to knock on doors, to talk to your friends and neighbors about what’s on the line for you this election. If you’re able, we need you to give money to support candidates who will fight for climate action, green jobs, and our democracy. 

Our grandmas are on the line. Our kids are on the line. Our futures are on the line. We can’t afford not to win. 

 by Rebecca Stoner

Paid for by Sierra Club Independent Action, www.sierraclubindependentaction.org, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate committee.