It’s the Climate Change, Stupid

As pundits pontificate on the theoretical notion of “electability,” scientists at Columbia University have provided a useful fact: according to a study of tree rings going back centuries, before humans recorded reliable data on precipitation, human-generated greenhouse gases were effecting global drought conditions as early as 1900. The findings confirm what computer models had projected about the past, which bolsters what those models project for the future, including increasing drought “over large parts of North America” over the next several decades.

The Trump presidency is an emergency, but much of what it has done can ultimately be undone. What can’t be undone is the time and resources it has wasted by both ignoring climate change and making it worse.

Battling climate change must be the highest priority of the next president (and of every politician seeking national office), and such a commitment should be demonstrated by suggesting a detailed and workable plan. No one, no matter how “electable,” should receive a vote until this basic requirement is met.

So far, only two of the 21 Democratic candidates qualify for consideration: Beto O’Rourke and Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

Inslee’s plan, which he released Friday, is dubbed “100% Clean Energy for America.” It holds an edge over O’Rourke’s for one significant reason: it’s based on what he successfully instituted in his home state. The crux: by 2035, all new vehicles must be fully electric; all electricity must come from carbon-neutral sources; and all new buildings must have zero-emissions from kitchens, chimneys, and heating systems.

To say this plan is “ambitious,” as the cynical and the meek will be wont to describe it, is to miss the point. It’s necessary. Jay Inslee is electable, indeed.

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Joshua Alvarez

Joshua Alvarez is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal. He edits syndicated opinion columns at the Washington Post, and can be reached at