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  • Writer's pictureThe Beacon Today

The current state of climate change in politics

Student protesters during the Global Climate Change Strike last September.

Climate change activists took their voices to the streets throughout much of 2019. Last September saw a week of protest in over a thousand locations across the globe. 

Several activists and their respective organizations expressed whether or not they think their advocacy efforts are working. They also voiced their opinions on the political landscape as it relates to the environmental situation. 

“[Climate Central] has been remarkably effective,” Peter Girard of Climate Central in Princeton, New Jersey, said. “Our research is widely cited by TV meteorologists explaining how climate change influences local weather and weather-related trends, like growing seasons and insect ranges. Audiences in every U.S. state have seen Climate Central graphics in their local TV weather reports, as well as radio, print, and online media.” 

Girard cited a Pew Research Center study that says Americans rely more on TV newscasts than any other source of news. A local TV meteorologist might be the best and only scientist the general public hears from on a regular basis. Climate Central’s provision of graphics and information to these news outlets help better explain the climate’s changing effects on the world.

Paige Scott from Youth Climate Strike’s Florida branch also mentioned the impact the media has on climate change. 

“I feel as if a lot more coverage and attention is being brought to it,'' Scott said. “We are having a lot more of a conversation about climate change. With the possibility of a new presidential administration leading into 2020, we’ll have a lot more policy changes hopefully.” 

Anton Kernohan from the University of Florida’s Climate Action Gator club also recommended no change in protest methods. 

“One of [Climate Action Gator’s] main strategies is activism through art,” Kernoham said. “We do a lot of art shows where we create some creative artworks to display at our protests.” 

Kernohan and Climate Action Gators utilized these works during the protests they attended last September. 

One of the purposes behind the strikes and protests is advocating action and policy change from government officials. There is a small range of opinion on whether governments are doing enough for climate change and whether the next elected president can handle it.

On the contrary, Climate Central does not support or criticize policies or politicians. Its role in confronting climate change is to give the populace reliable scientific information needed to understand the problem and make up their own minds. 

“I think that most of the European countries are doing a lot right now,” Scott said of international government work on climate change. “I think Europe in general is a lot further along than we are, but America is the one that is lacking in the grand scheme of things.”

Kernohan also stated that non-governmental organizations and non-profit individuals are game changers as well. 

“[The American government is] far from doing everything they can do to save our planet, to save our climate,” Kernohan said. 

Kernohan listed Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders as the most likely candidates to confront climate change.

“They have all been very receptive to the need for beneficial climate policy,” Kernohan said. 

He supports their decisions on rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and applying the Green New Deal.

By Benjamin Wainer

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