San Francisco Bridge Covered in Orange Smoke, September 2020
Image: The Day The Sun Didn't Rise - San Francisco smothered in smoke, Sept. 9, 2020, by Christopher Michel. Source: Flickr -

The Election and the Environment

Download Current Context Issue:  The Election and the Environment

Abstract:  Some argue that the 2020 U.S. presidential election is critical for slowing the effects of climate change. Heading into the election are two candidates who see the issue in starkly different terms.

Excerpt:  “It’ll start getting cooler. You just watch” were the words President Trump shared with an audience of California officials in the midst of regional concern over the damages mounting from wildfires exacerbated by climate change. The entire west coast is experiencing a record number and size of fires. Meanwhile, the eastern seaboard is experiencing an unusually active hurricane season while shorelines come further underwater and the interior parts of the country see damaging storms and rapid temperature swings. And that’s just in the United States. Australia went through its worst wildfire season this year, while the Arctic experienced record high temperatures and wildfire of its own. Long periods of drought proceeded many of the wildfires, creating more fuel from dead and dying vegetation. These events follow the patterns scientists have predicted for decades now, including concerns expressed by a presidential science advisory committee as early as 1965. Certainly other factors contribute to making these disasters so deadly. Where and how we choose to build homes, and the long-term suppression of fires (which allows the fuel load in forests to build up) also play a role. But these disasters are now more common and intense due to the changing weather conditions of a warming planet.

To read the rest of this essay, download the latest issue of Current Context - The Election and the Environment here.  And don't miss our customizable Student Discussion Guide, designed to accompany this issue, available here.

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