Bernie Sanders Is Forcing A Debate on Climate Change into the Democratic Mainstream

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Bernie Sanders Is Forcing A Debate on Climate Change into the Democratic Mainstream

Here’s the reality put forward by scientists last month: unless we do something unprecedented in human history and radically transform our economy away from reliance on fossil fuels in the next ten years, the Earth will become incredibly hostile to human life in 20 years, and apocalyptic scenes like the one detailed below from the California wildfires made infinitely worse by climate change will become far more commonplace. Per the Los Angeles Times:

The fire caught up to Jolly on Pearson Road, blasting her car with heat. She reached for the stethoscope slung around her neck and flinched as the metal burned. Her steering wheel was melting — the plastic stuck to her hands.

As her car caught fire and began to fill with black smoke, she called her husband. “Run,” he told her.

Jolly fled for safety to the car ahead of hers, but it too was abandoned. She ran on.

The rubber on her shoes melted into the asphalt. The back of her scrubs caught fire, blistering her legs. She tried another car, but it wasn’t moving.

Whatever your opinion on Bernie Sanders—and hoo boy, do traditional Democrats have some opinions on this man—you cannot deny that calling attention to this existential threat to humanity is a good thing. Hell, even if you’re a hyper-cynical type who believes that Bernie Sanders only does what he does in order to gain some amorphous kind of popularity among us youths, the net gain of drawing more attention to this threat to humanity’s existence is an unequivocal positive development in politics. Per The Huffington Post:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) will host a livestreamed town hall summit on climate change next month, a move that may intensify pressure on the next Congress to curb planet-warming emissions and challenge TV networks to cover a rapidly worsening crisis they’ve long ignored.

The 90-minute event — scheduled from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 3 — will be held at the Capitol Visitor Center Auditorium in Washington and broadcast over Facebook, YouTube and Twitter by seven progressive media outlets.

“We need millions of people all over this country to stand up and demand fundamental changes in our energy policy in order to protect our kids and our grandchildren and the planet,” Sanders told HuffPost by phone. “The good news is the American people are beginning to stand up and fight back.”

Here’s the reality: unless the next Democratic president makes combating climate change a central feature of his or her platform (seriously combating climate change, not the half-measures and committees put forth by Democrats swimming in oil money), we’re all doomed. Hell, some scientists give our species a 50-50 chance of surviving the 21st century. This is really the only thing that matters, because if we don’t have a habitable planet, none of the policies we want to put in place will have the impact we want them to. We’ll all be literally running for our lives on a planet which is becoming increasingly hostile to life—not to mention the fact climate change is estimated to cost the planet $54 trillion under our current course. (To put that figure in context, the GDP of the entire globe in 2017 was $75 trillion.) If Bernie Sanders is the only Democrat willing to put aggressive climate policies like the Green New Deal on his platform, then he’s the only Democrat who deserves to win in 2020. Period.

Jacob Weindling is a staff writer for Paste politics. Follow him on Twitter at @Jakeweindling.