Proof that voting matters

The new Speaker of the House poses a dire threat to our planet. We need to ensure his tenure is brief.

Hi. Joe here, abusing my position of influence to chime in with a climate’s-eye view on some recent events. If this offends you or makes you uncomfortable, I invite you to unsubscribe here. If you are not offended by this content, but know someone who would get suuuper angry reading it, why not forward them this email? That would be funny as hell.

Only one per person. Use it well. Credit: Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Politics are stupid; and partisan spit-fighting about environmental policy and legislation makes Washington even dumber. The survival of the ecosystem that supports human life is neither a conservative nor a liberal matter. Hunters, who have historically skewed Republican, are some of the most effective conservationists in America; meanwhile, Democrats rammed the most consequential environmental legislation in history through Congress in an act of pure partisan bullying. Ground doesn’t get more common than the dirt we’re standing on. And yet!

Last night, the House of Representatives’ Republican majority elected a somewhat obscure congressman from Louisiana to be that body’s Speaker. While we all need to respect others’ beliefs and points of view, get ready to make an exception: Voting politicians like Mike Johnson out of Congress at the next (and any) election is a matter of human survival. 

You want achievable climate action? Here you go: Mike Johnson, newly elected Speaker of the House, third in line to the presidency, top dog in charge of the legislative body that decides what our country spends money on, publicly denies that humans are responsible for the climate crisis. He needs to go. Because he says stuff like this: 

“The climate is changing, but the question is, is it being caused by natural cycles over the span of the earth’s history? Or is it changing because we drive SUVs? I don’t believe in the latter. I don’t think that’s the primary driver.” 

I would bet my daughter’s favorite light-up shoes that Johnson doesn’t believe the above statement. But if he didn’t say it, he probably wouldn’t be in Congress; Johnson is deep in the oil and gas industry’s pocket, having received more than $330,000 in contributions from those companies. We know that the Earth heating up is overwhelmingly the result of burning fossil fuels; the oil companies who helped buy Johnson his House seat have known this for decades. Johnson can read, so he probably knows it, too. Yet the New York Times reports numerous instances in which he has opposed and bashed environmental spending and legislation.

You might think this doesn’t matter if you don’t live in Louisiana or another bright red state; you would be wrong. Reliably lefty New York lost four liberal seats in the 2022 election, nearly half the margin by which the predominantly pro-oil GOP now controls the House. Oops. This could happen again. It could happen in another state. It could happen in your state; and the next big legislative election isn’t actually that far off. Make sure you get to the polls—not just this November, but next year as well. On November 5, 2024, all 435 House seats are up for reelection. 

Let’s do that again: November 5, 2024. Clear your calendar. Do your research. If a candidate on your ballot voted against environmental legislation or funding, vote against them. If a candidate on your ballot voted to give subsidies or special treatment to fossil fuel companies, vote against them. 

And if you need to scratch that do-something itch in the meantime, you can always call an elected official. Every day. In fact, here are all four phone numbers I can find for Speaker Mike Johnson. Maybe give him a li’l buzz and talk to him or his people about the environment. Be polite. 

  • Washington, D.C. office: 202-225-2777
  • Bossier City, La. office: 318-840-0309
  • Northwestern State University office: 318-951-4316
  • Northwestern State University – Ft. Johnson office 337-423-4232

We still have time to slow human-caused planetary warming. But that might not be true if the next big election doesn’t go green. I wish the gas-powered GOP would get its head out of its oily butt, but wishing won’t solve this problem. Voting will. Make sure to do your talking at the polls, so that the people who respect our planet end up in charge of our little slice of it. 

Take care of yourselves—and the rest of us, too.
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