Addressing Climate Change in the Election: KQED Let’s Talk about Election 2020

The 2020 election will play a monumental role in the future of climate policies, and we need to consider the urgency of climate change when voting.


Mark Dixon

Climate justice protesters outside the White House at a protest in April 2017. Over three years later, climate change is more of an issue than ever.

Keira Lee, Copy Editor

With hurricanes and wildfires ravaging the country, we have to acknowledge that climate change is more prevalent than ever, and take action before it becomes irreversible.

After the CZU fire complex broke out in California, my family spent days packing what we’d need and planning where we would go if the fires came too close. Although in the end we were fortunate enough to not have to evacuate, we were terrified watching the nightly news, checking evacuation area lists, searching maps of the fires in anxious anticipation of having to leave our home behind. It weighed constantly on our minds. Even once the immediate danger was over, the heavy smoke made it dangerous to go outside.

According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, in 2020, over four million acres of land have burned in California, and many fires continue to burn. Over 9000 structures have been destroyed, and over 30 people have died. And it’s not just California that’s changing — states that this September was the hottest September ever recorded for the entire globe. Scientists agree that climate change is a major factor of these changes. Climate change poses a serious threat to the environment. The World Wildlife Fund reports that 50 percent of all species in several wildlife-rich areas could be killed off due to climate change, and coral reefs are also extremely vulnerable. We rely on our ecosystems; for example, the WWF estimates that by 2100, the total loss of coral reefs and their services (such as protecting the coasts and providing a source of food, jobs, and tourist attractions) due to climate change will equate to $500 billion per year. We are changing the environment itself, and we cannot endure when we’re damaging the planet we rely on. Climate change is human-induced, and it’s up to us to fix the problems we have set into place.

It can seem like climate change is a future issue, but the truth is that it’s already a reality. Climate change will become irreversible if we surpass 1.5 degrees Celsius in temperature changes, and we have to act now for the sake of later generations and our planet’s future. The 2020 election will play a monumental role in the future of climate policies, and we need to consider the urgency of climate change when voting. America’s involvement in environmental protection will help determine the future of a massive global problem, and our next president will be the one to ultimately choose our course of action.

(Nat sound from, Burgh Records Music Making,, and Taila Lee. The music is “Undertow” by Scott Buckley, promoted by Audio Library.)