If you ever want to feel bad about the future of humanity just read the comments section on literally any Yahoo news article. I was reading a piece on the recent floods in Nigeria which have displaced 1.4 million people with more than 600 reported dead as of the publication of this article. At the end of that Yahoo piece there was a somewhat innocuous comment by a woman who said that she was disappointed that it’s taking so long for us to take climate change seriously, she reminisced about her dad speaking on the climate crisis back in the 70’s. Apparently, this comment was too much, she was berated by climate change deniers, referred to as a liberal sheep, spreader of misinformation, and accused of being blinded by the liberal media.
Meanwhile, climate disasters continue to happen worldwide from Pakistan to Mississippi, thousands dead, and millions displaced, but a simple suggestion to take climate change seriously…that’s the real issue.
theDIHEDRAL has been very fortunate to be able to interview top notch climate scientists and specialists over the years, and the one thing that we consistently hear is that the way to incite the level of change necessary to make a difference is by electing officials who take climate change seriously. Of course, this is important at the federal level, but equally and perhaps more important at the local and state level.
In the US the next election is on Tuesday November 8, 2022, and with the aid of a couple of easily accessible tools, you can inform yourself about candidates’ stance on environmental issues.
There is an organization called Climate Cabinet Action that looks at how state and local politicians have voted regarding legislation on climate action. The politicians are then rated from 0-100 based on how often they vote in favor or against climate action. 0 is someone who always votes against climate action and 100 is the mark for someone who always votes in favor of climate action. This information is organized into what is called the Climate Action Scorecard which is available for download on the website. The data is limited to 25 states, but the organization is growing, and hopefully by the next election cycle all 50 states will be included.
The 25 states represented by the first round of evaluations include: Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.
I wasn’t shocked to find out that Democrats typically have a higher score than Republicans, but it was shocking to see just how drastic that difference was in some states. It was also very interesting, and somewhat inspiring to see that states which tend to promote climate action have far more politicians who promote climate action. Both Democrats and Republicans tend to score higher in states where climate is prioritized. Connecticut is a very good example.
While the Climate Action Scorecard offers incredibly useful data, it needs to be supplemented with further information regarding the candidates, most importantly, you’ll need to find out who is running. The Scorecard relies on politician’s past votes in order to compute a candidate’s overall score, so newly elected officials will have no data. Further, candidates running for the first time will have no data available. Some candidates with a computed score are not running for re-election, and so won’t be found on the ballot.
I use Ballotopedia.org to find out who is on the ballot in my state, region, and district. All you have to do is type your state into the search bar, then when your state comes up, you see everyone who is on the ballot. To go directly to your district just type in your address (or an address in your neighborhood if you don’t feel comfortable putting in your own address). Once your district comes up, the site lists the candidates running for office. When you find out who is running, you can then check out the scorecard of the incumbent and decide if their voting record aligns with your civic preferences.
For example, if you happen to live in Colorado House District 25, you’ll find Republican Incumbent Collin Larson running against Democrat Tammy Story. Colin Larson scored a doleful 5 on the Climate Action Scorecard. This of course says nothing about Colin as a person, but if your priorities include Climate Action of any kind, then Colin may not be the guy for you.
Let’s try one more. Suppose you live in Colorado State Senate District 15, you’ll find incumbent Rob Woodward on the ballot. Now Rob had this to say as one of the key messages that he wants voters to remember about his goals in office, as stated in one of Ballotopedia.org interview questions. “In order to avoid an energy crisis, Colorado must encourage the development of clean, affordable, and reliable forms of energy. I advocate an all-of-the-above approach. This means developing our oil and gas resources, which produce the cleanest carbon molecule in the world, in addition to renewable sources like wind and solar. I am also in favor of developing geothermal energy resources, having sponsored two geothermal bills that were passed by the legislature in the 2022 session.” Now despite Rob’s passion for clean, affordable, and reliable energy, his Climate Action Score is 5/100. Now, it’s important to note that Rob’s score may have gone up as the Climate Action Scorecard was based on votes running through 2021, but for Rob and many like him it looks as if his climate actions speak a little louder than his climate words.
It’ll take a little effort to see where your local candidates stand on climate, but hopefully with these tools, you’ll have a better idea about which direction to pull the lever come November 8.
I took the liberty of organizing the data for the following five states, so if you happen to live in or care about Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Nevada, or Oregon, you can see how these state candidates measure up.
Arizona State House
Arizona State Senate
Colorado State House
Colorado State Senate
|Kevin Van Winkle||R||30||10|
Connecticut State House
|Dorind Keenan Borer||D||115||89|
Connecticut State Senate
Nevada State Assembly
Nevada State Senate
Oregon State House
Oregon State Senate
To look further into the data, or check out your own state, Climate Cabinet Action can be found here. To look into the US candidates running for election on November 8th, a link to ballotpedia can be found here.