Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: Why Climate Change is the Key Issue for Millennial Voters


In her article at PolicyMic, "Youth Vote 2012: Why Democrats Should Not Take Millennials for Granted," Rebekah Brown writes that “if you are a millennial, this election might matter more than you know…  it turns out that whoever wins this election might affect you for the rest of your life.” Brown is absolutely right, but for a reason she does not mention in her article.

Hurricane Sandy reminded us that climate change is creating more and more disruptive weather patterns. NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg believes that climate change contributed to the violent storm. In fact, this realization re-shaped his thinking about the presidential campaign. Mayor Bloomberg now endorses one of the two corporate candidates who said nothing about climate change during their debates.He endorsed Obama, a candidate who increased oil exploration, built enough oil pipelines to wrap around the planet, approved wells in the Arctic Ocean off of the Alaska Coast, and overseen a 7% increase in coal production.

Journalist Chis Hedges also cites climate change as a determining factor in how we should consider voting Tuesday. Chris Hedges’ application of the relevance of climate change to the election seems more reasonable than Michael Bloomberg’s. Hedges is not motivated to vote for someone who did not let the issue into the debates, and who only increased the production of fossil fuels. 

Instead, Hedges writes that this “election is not a battle between Republicans and Democrats. It is not a battle between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. It is a battle between the corporate state and us. And if we do not immediately engage in this battle we are finished, as climate scientists have made clear.” 

For this reason, Hedges will vote for Jill Stein.

Like it or not, the reality of climate change is imposing itself on our consciousness. We are witnessing more severe storms, more severe droughts, and more ice melting at the poles than in recorded history, along with diminishing arable land. Given that severe droughts will likely worsen in the future, disruptions in the supplie of affordable food is a foreseeable result of such changes. We will likely witness the extinction of many large land mammals, such as polar bears, elephants and gorillas.

The disaster we are permitting to unfold we bring up on ourselves. The planet will not suffer.  Even under the worst case scenario, the earth will just go through more transformations, not unlike the transformations that occurred when the dinosaurs went extinct. It is ourselves about whom we need to be concerned. None of this bodes well for millennial Americans.

There are many more issues at stake in this election: the war in Afghanistan, the control of our democracy by the 1%, increased surveillance of Americans, Obama’s pushing for the right of a president to jail Americans without a trial, a tax system that leaves corporations not paying their share, and much more, all incredibly important.

Yet all these issues pale in comparison when we look at the need to begin addressing the ecological crisis of climate change. We need a president who has climate change at the top of his or her agenda. How our next president deals with that crisis will affect all of us — millennials, our elders, and our offspring — for the rest of our lives.