By Levi Teitel | Oct. 15, 2022
This November, Michiganders have an opportunity to defend two things worth fighting for at the ballot box: our environment and our freedom to vote.
I’m 26 years old, and as a young-ish person, the consensus is clear: We want action on climate. I’ve been a dedicated climate justice activist for nearly a decade, and there are now a whole bunch of teens who are louder, bolder, and more effective than I was when I started out. People across backgrounds, but especially young folks, are passionate about the need to protect our environment and the imperatives that go along with it, like expanding renewable energy and holding corporate polluters accountable.
Elections have so many implications for our environment. If you want your kids to be able to live in a healthy and clean environment, it’s important to vote, especially for policies that will get us on the right track towards meeting climate goals.
After the historic turnout of the 2020 election, we’ve seen important action on climate. Congress and the White House worked together to pass the Inflation Reduction Act in August 2022, the single largest investment in fighting the climate crisis in our country’s history.
It’s hard to ignore the horrific storms happening with greater intensity and frequency, like Hurricanes Fiona and Ian that just ravaged Puerto Rico and southwest Florida respectively, and how our inaction to lower greenhouse gas emissions fuels these disasters. With lives and infrastructure destroyed, it’s clear that our voices—the majority of us who want safer and healthier communities—must get louder.
We need a functioning government with strong citizen engagement in order to have a healthy environment, which means that advocating for just climate solutions and using the power of the vote are essential tools to achieve real and lasting change.
That’s all to say, I firmly believe that participating in elections and supporting their integrity goes hand-in-hand with protecting the environment. There is a dual threat that we must confront: untrue conspiracy theories about the 2020 election and climate denialism that ignores the realities of why burning fossil fuels drives more pollution and rising temperatures.
The majority of Michiganders want climate action, and they also believe our 2020 election was accurate. However, some elected officials ignore us and instead pursue policies that go against facts and the will of the people. Our elections officials have repeatedly called the 2020 election the most secure and accurate election in our state’s history, and it was verified by hundreds of independent, nonpartisan audits. Our elections go through rigorous processes to ensure their integrity, and we should support the hard work that our local election officials do to make them run smoothly.
Those who are seeking to undermine trust in our elections are taking a page from the same exact playbook as the fossil fuel industry in their decades-long push for climate denialism. Proponents of the “Big Lie” exploited vulnerable communities, like right here in Antrim County. They tried to overturn the will of the voters, stoking fear and chaos while maliciously targeting a local clerk with decades of experience.
And just like the individuals who created false conspiracies about the 2020 election, climate denialists push dangerous and misleading claims about fossil fuels to cover up the damage that it causes to everyone, but especially our most vulnerable frontline communities.
This election, we have an opportunity to stand against these two great threats to our communities so we can maintain free and fair elections and continue to breathe clean air and drink safe water. We must vote for climate action so we can help Michigan’s independent family farmers thrive in the face of diminished soil conditions and crop yields. If we show up to vote, we can create a future that is better aligned with the majority of Great Lakes voters.
It’s time to vote for climate action so we can commit to ending our reliance on fossil fuels and achieving 100 percent renewable energy. But voting should just be the starting point––it’s also important to be active with local issues and see how you can tip the scales towards climate action in your own community.
If you have any questions about voting, head to MichiganVoting.org or call or text 866-OUR-VOTE. This election marks the first time in 10 years that we have new voting districts, so make sure you know which district you’re registered to vote in. You can go to mi.gov/vote if you’re unsure. Our communities, our climate, and our air and water are worth fighting for, so vote!
Levi Teitel is the rural communications coordinator with Progress Michigan, a nonprofit communications advocacy and government watchdog group. He is currently based in Emmet County.