Crew Commentary

The Most Potent Climate Action You Can Take – VOTE!

Bob Leonard - Climate Risk Manager


I’m not telling you to just show up at the polls and cast your ballot. Crew members do their homework. There are two sides to this coin. Not only do you need to learn about your politicians’ stances on climate issues, but crew members must also understand the issues. They are climate literate. They know what matters and what doesn’t. So you must educate yourself.


This Spaceship Earth has put together a primer on our climate crisis, “Now That You Know”, and a deep dive on the hundreds of data points that comprise the current status of Spaceship Earth, “The Quartermaster’s Report”. Both are available for free download on the TSE website.


Have you thought about the climate issues that will be coming up in the next four years… and that the people you elect will be called upon to deal with them?


Lead authors and review editors of reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were asked, “What are the most important climate actions people can take?” The number one most effective action (76% of experts selected this option) is to vote for politicians who pledge strong climate measures.


“The science is there, but the lack of will of politicians worldwide is retarding climate change [action],” said Prof Alexander Milner, at the University of Birmingham in the UK.






The most important issue at stake in this election is our climate crisis. Already the year 2024 has given us record-breaking temperatures, forest fires, floods, droughts and extreme weather events. If we don’t fix our climate crisis, nothing else matters. The next five years, which coincide with the next US Presidential term (and the term of whatever government the UK elects at the end of 2024 or early 2025), will see the Earth’s ravaged climate pass a number of tipping points (that means chaos and disruption), bringing food insecurity, refugee crises and economic disturbances.


Whoever is elected US President in 2024 is going to have to deal with the effects of these problems, and it doesn’t matter whether that person believes in climate change or not… though obviously it would be better to have someone who understands what’s happening rather than someone who denies it exists.





We Need More Senators Like Sheldon Whitehouse


Watch this screencast from a May 15, 2024 hearing, “Chairman Whitehouse Opens Budget Hearing on Climate Change and the Costs to National Security” (May 15, 2024, YouTube)    (Thanks to Edmund Carlevale for pointing this out to me).


Senator Whitehouse understands the security threats that our climate crisis embody. There will be major migrations of climate refugees. There is (and will continue to be) sea level rise that encroaches on our naval bases and other DoD infrastructure. It will take time and money to adapt to these situations. And it will take planning and budgeting. Denying the existence of our climate crisis, and failing to prepare for it, will result in catastrophic conditions.


He’s Saying It Out Loud


Former President Donald J. Trump told a group of oil executives and lobbyists gathered at a dinner at his Mar-a-Lago resort last month that they should donate $1 billion to his presidential campaign because, if elected, he would roll back environmental rules that he said hampered their industry. Attendees included executives from ExxonMobil, EQT Corporation and the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil industry. The event was organized by the oil billionaire Harold Hamm, who has for years helped to shape Republican energy policies.





The Heritage Foundation’s Project 2025 


Trump and his allies are planning a sweeping expansion of presidential power over the machinery of government… reshaping the structure of the executive branch to concentrate far greater authority directly in his hands. That expansion involves “increasing the president’s authority over every part of the federal government that now operates, by either law or tradition, with any measure of independence from political interference by the White House”.


Led by the long-established Heritage Foundation think tank and fueled by former Trump administration officials, the far-reaching effort is essentially a government-in-waiting for the former president’s second term. With a nearly 1,000-page “Project 2025” handbook and an “army” of Americans, the idea is to have the civic infrastructure in place on Day One to commandeer, reshape and do away with constitutional checks and balances.


It’s not just the top of the ticket. The Heritage coalition is taking its recruitment efforts on the road, crisscrossing America to fill government jobs. They’re building out a database of potential employees, inviting them to be trained in government operations.




Fossil fuel producers are huge campaign contributors and have a financial stake in thwarting or delaying policies that will shift us toward renewable energy. (And that seems to override any concerns about whether their grandchildren will inherit a livable planet). So follow the money. Citizens United cloaks political donations in anonymity, but a handful of journalists on the climate beat will do the sleuthing for you… seek them out.


But it’s not just about the money. Environmental protection, like almost everything, has been caught up in the culture wars. On Wednesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida signed a law intended to stop the government of his state (which is highly vulnerable to climate change, so much so that insurers are fleeing) from even considering the issue in making policy.


We fled Florida before the insurers did (Hurricane Irma was the last straw). It’s the most vulnerable US state to sea level rise and severe weather events. Yet its governor is so intent on deluding himself and Floridians (and continuing to spend fossil fuel industry cash), that he is dooming his constituents to major losses of property and significant impacts to human health.




It’s worth noting that if a property is deemed uninsurable (a phenomenon that is becoming more and more prevalent), banks can’t underwrite mortgages. That has a chilling effect on the real estate industry.


Taking Credit When None is Due


GOP lawmakers voted en masse against Biden’s signature Inflation Reduction Bill which budgeted $800 billion for climate mitigation and adaptation (to be spent over the next decade). Roughly two-thirds of green-energy projects announced since it became law are going to Republican-held congressional districts.


Since the Inflation Reduction Act became law, companies have announced tens of billions of dollars in renewable energy, battery and electric vehicle projects that will benefit from incentives. If you reside in a red state, and you see your representatives taking credit for new green jobs in your state, don’t take that at face value. Do a little digging. Things likely are not as they seem.




Biden’s EV policies have also sparked opposition in Republican-led rural states such as North Dakota, where there are far more oil rigs than charging stations. A key figure leading the Trump campaign’s development of its energy policy is North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R), who has been talking extensively to oil donors and CEOs.


“They’ve got some liberal idea about what products we need,” Burgum said. “You all need EV cars. You don’t need internal combustion. We’ll decide what kind of car you’re going to drive, and we’re going to regulate the other ones out of business. I mean, it’s just in every industry, not just in cars, not just in energy. They’re telling people what stoves you can buy. This is not America.” Burgum misses the point that in order to avoid societal collapse, we must make these systemic changes. It will be difficult and expensive, but much less disruptive than destroying the natural world and our ability to feed ourselves.




The first presidential debate is on June 27. Plan on viewing.


Keep in mind that it’s going to take all of us to meet our climate challenge. Try to unify rather than divide. Talk to friends, family, neighbors and colleagues about the positive returns on investment in climate adaptation and mitigation… and about the dreadful consequences if we don’t take significant actions.


I’m not the only one exhorting you to vote. Before you make decisions, delve into our NTYK and our Quartermaster’s Report, get literate with the data, and then monitor the actions, statements and other behaviors of all the politicians who will be on your electoral ticket.


We have to save ourselves. Crew members on Spaceship Earth keep informed about politics. They know which politicians are against climate action, and those who pretend to support climate action. They vote for and donate to those who authentically promote a transition to a livable planet. Are you crew? #systemschange #climateresilience #crewconsciousness