Top Stories of 2019: Climate Change Hits Home in “Sharpie” Focus

Image: Washington Post. Data: NOAA

When we look back in 30 years, it could be that 2019 will be remembered as the year that the climate emergency finally broke through — as the year when, thanks to the President’s absurd denials, a consistent focus on climate change by Democrats, and the relentless pounding of severe storms and record heat in every region, the majority of Americans now believe climate change is real and the U.S. government is not doing enough to address it.  

  • In September, a poll released by CBS News found that a majority of Americans think action needs to be taken immediately to address climate change.
  • The Washington Post and Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) also conducted a poll and found that a “growing number of Americans describe climate change as a crisis, and two-thirds say President Trump is doing too little to tackle it.”
  • Similarly, another new poll, this one from the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research found that nearly three-fourths of the American public believe severe weather is getting worse and blame climate change.

For me (Monica), there were two events in September that made this shift in public perception crystal clear — first, the huge response in the media and the public to the President’s pathetic and dangerous attempt to change the storm track of Hurricane Dorian by drawing by hand with a sharpie marker on an official storm track map, and second, the 13-hour marathon Climate Forum hosted by MSNBC’s Ali Velshi and Chris Hayes that appeared live and can still be viewed on MSNBC’s youtube channel (not to mention CNN’s Climate Town Hall two weeks earlier).

Why This Matters:  Climate change will be a major focus in the 2020 elections.  Just last week, in a new poll by our friends at the Environmental Voter Project, 14% of those surveyed said that “addressing climate change and protecting the environment” is their number one priority over all other issues,  as compared with 2% to 6% before the 2016 presidential election.  Indeed, the poll found that climate and environment voters are highly determined — they are willing to wait in line an average of an hour and 13 minutes at the polls in order to cast their votes.   The facts of climate change — and its undeniable negative impacts being felt today from floods along the entire Mississippi River to a remarkably slow-moving hurricane that crawled up the Southeast coast, to fires and record-high temperatures from Rhode Island to Alaska — are now patently obvious to a majority of Americans.  Perhaps they will care enough to vote against climate-denying politicians and thus impact the outcome of the 2020 elections up and down the ballot across America.  We will see. 

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