Oftentimes, the most dangerous threats to our well-being are slow growing. They creep in, getting worse and worse until they are unavoidable. Climate change most definitely falls under that category. The waves lap closer and closer to the shore until they spill over the causeway and into our homes.
It’s not as if environmental efforts are not making strides. The World Wildlife Fund selected the panda as its logo in 1960, as it dedicated years of conservation efforts. That logo is finally outdated, as the panda will be leaving the endangered species list this month, according to a Bloomberg article.
News like this reminds us that environmental efforts are still very much alive, despite their glaring absence from conversations on the campaign trail. Each day, grassroots campaigns and hardworking NGOs are dedicating their lives to conservation, but neither the Republican nor Democratic presidential nominee is diving into environmental policy.
It needs to be addressed that the only discussion around the environment has stemmed from Donald Trump’s 2012 tweet stating, “The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
However, the damage has been done. Climate change, its effects and potential policy to combat it have been hardly discussed on the months-long campaign trail. Trump’s sentiments on the environment are clear, but Clinton does outline a fairly vague approach to ensuring our sustainable existence on her website. It’s better than nothing, but still lacking.
Clinton promises to “promote conservation and collaborative stewardship” through harnessing “the immense economic potential they offer through expanded renewable energy production, a high quality of life, and a thriving outdoor economy.” Though this is some semblance of a plan, the environment seems to come second fiddle to the economy.
A diminished focus on the environment does not mean that people have stopped caring about our planet. In fact, as evidenced by the panda’s success, they are still incredibly invested. In this election in particular, social issues, both foreign and domestic, have taken center stage and merely outshone our future.
At home, the Black Lives Matter movement illuminates the police brutality that is seemingly just around every corner. Abroad, children are drowning just off the coast of Lesbos. These are the things candidates are talking about and what the American public wants to hear.
The fact of the matter is that people are not dying in the streets from environmental effects. African Americans and Syrian children are dying, and these are the images that are disseminated.
It’s not that climate-related challenges are not quantifiable. They are very much recorded, analyzed and seen. All one needs is to Google something along the lines of “receding glaciers” to see substantive evidence of the magnitude of the situation. It’s just that we have been more concerned with counting missile strikes and aid convoys as of recently.
It’s not that the environment was not at all discussed on the campaign trail. Sen. Bernie Sanders used the environment as one of his primary points in his presidential campaign, lending it importance and giving us all a bit of hope. Yet, with his demise came the demise of plenty of wishful thinking. Gone were conservation ideals with education reform, in a sense.
In today’s day and age, foreign and domestic policy challenges are also polarizing, allowing candidates to debate. The environment is just always there.
Candidates take this for granted, looking for explosive topics to demonstrate their wealths of knowledge. But that’s just it; the environment is always there. We must deal with the ramifications if we shun its downward-spiraling existence. If not now, then when?