Joe Biden campaign Election 2020

Election 2020, our environment, and you

We want to hear what this election means for you

BOZEMAN, Mont.—"It's sad to win and be this depressed."


I was talking to a cousin in deep-blue Washington, D.C. But living in a state that went from purple to crimson Tuesday, I had to ruefully smile: Who won in this election? Who lost?

Four years ago, as the nation awoke to the first shock and reckoning of a Trump presidency, I was on a cross-country flight, blissfully unplugged. Looking out at our country from my window seat, I watched all that hand-wringing disappear against truly tectonic forces shaping our landscape. I was blessed with literally a 30,000-foot view.

I thought then that progressives had failed to build the coalitions necessary for broad support of clean energy, a healthier climate, environmental justice. That Democrats had left large portions of the population behind. To move forward on clean water, low-carbon energy, environmental and racial justice, we needed to go back and get them. To do the hard work of bringing everyone together.

Donald Trump of course spent four years doing nothing of the sort. But to be fair, the Democrats didn't really do so, either. And so we find ourselves, in many ways, in the same space four years later: Riven, mistrustful, divided – deeply so.


What does this election mean for you? Send us a few sentences and we'll publish a compilation later in the month: feedback@ehsciences.org. We'd love to hear your story.

'Victories are rarely easy'

Biden question election 2020

Tim Mossholder / Unsplash

Four years ago I turned to newsman Dan Rather for solace and insight. He's still in my head and my Facebook feed, a veteran of 18 presidential campaigns – 72 years.

"I don't minimize the challenges we are facing," he wrote Wednesday morning. "The struggle for justice and the truth seems more difficult than many had hoped."

"I know many are tired, disappointed, and in disbelief. Many wonder what their country truly is and where it might go. All of these are natural reactions to where America is today. But I have seen over the course of my lifetime that victories are rarely easy and the struggle for healing and hope takes time and perseverance, because the forces of hate and lies are always easier to summon."

Once proudly bipartisan

As President-elect Biden looks toward governing, he'll face largely the same Senate as his former boss, Barack Obama. The Green New Deal envisioned by Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. will never get through that door. Would that be so bad? Should we be so glum about a Biden Administration forced to seek compromise and bipartisanship?

Then I look at the election results in my beloved, once proudly bipartisan Montana. Until Tuesday this state had never – not in my lifetime, not in my parent's lifetime, not in my grandparent's – approved a straight Republican ticket for every statewide office: President, U.S. senator, U.S. representative, governor, attorney general, auditor, education secretary.

Even the Public Service Commission, the obscure body regulating our utilities – and that decides whether our state will keep producing coal-fired power or tap the abundant wind blowing over eastern Montana – is all Republican.

Sunlight helps

Driving past endless fields of wheat stubble in Central Montana on Thursday, listening to talk radio, my wife reported hearing little but all-caps cries of FAKE NEWS, FAKE VOTES, STOLEN ELECTION. The lines are etched much harder into our political landscape.

I don't see any mood for compromise.

So the job for me, as head of an organization that works to bring good science into public discussion on our health and environment, is clear: We will investigate and challenge. We will continue to bring to light science that makes sense of our world and makes us healthier.

I'm not naive to think a few stories or studies will get us out of this tangled mess. But sunlight helps.

The 30,000-foot perspective

And so I turn back to Dan Rather and his 30,000-foot view, a perspective that takes in World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1960s Civil Rights fights.

"This nation will have to find a way to heal, no matter how improbable that seems today," he said. "Healing doesn't mean forfeiting one's values. It does not mean watering down the structural, policy, and cultural changes we will have to make. But it does mean not losing a sense of one's humanity, humility, and empathy."

That is the task for all of us today.

Editor's note: What does this election mean for you? Write to us, and we'll publish a compilation later in the month: feedback@ehsciences.org. We'd love to hear your story.

Last year's deforestation pledge is off to a slow start
www.reuters.com

Last year's deforestation pledge is off to a slow start

One year after more than 140 countries pledged to halt all deforestation by 2030, little has been done to finance protections or pass new conservation laws, experts say.
Sunrise in the woods

Get our Good News newsletter

Get the best positive, solutions-oriented stories we've seen on the intersection of our health and environment, FREE every Tuesday in your inbox. Subscribe here today. Keep the change tomorrow.

Peter Dykstra: A League of their own

American environmental law came of age under the aegis of that unlikely ol’ treehugger, Richard Milhous Nixon.

Keep reading...Show less
Environmentalists slam corporate influence at U.N. climate talks
www.washingtonpost.com

Environmentalists slam corporate influence at U.N. climate talks

Egyptian organizers have hired Hill+Knowlton Strategies, a public relations firm that has represented oil giants including ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell and Saudi Aramco, to manage communications for the COP27 negotiations, according to emails and other materials reviewed by The Climate 202.
30 companies emit nearly half energy sector’s climate warming methane emissions
www.bloomberg.com

30 companies emit nearly half energy sector’s climate warming methane emissions

Oil and gas-related emissions of planet-warming methane could be halved at no cost, according to Global Energy Monitor.
COP27 climate summit: Loss and damage funding to dominate the talks
www.cnbc.com

COP27 climate summit: Loss and damage funding to dominate the talks

Climate reparations — sometimes referred to as "loss and damage" payments — is a core issue likely to dominate proceedings at the COP27 summit.
On the Inflation Reduction Act, voters have heard very little
www.dataforprogress.org

On the Inflation Reduction Act, voters have heard very little

Only 39 percent of respondents say that the Democrats' signature legislative accomplishment has been signed into law.
Tom Wolf signs $2 billion tax package that encourages natural gas production in Pa.
stateimpact.npr.org

Tom Wolf signs $2 billion tax package that encourages natural gas production in Pa.

Gov. Tom Wolf has signed a $2 billion tax credit package for the hydrogen production, milk processing, and biomedical research industries into law, capping months of quiet negotiations between the Democrat and top Republicans in the General Assembly.

From our Newsroom
midterm elections

Peter Dykstra: Election Day and beyond

The environment gets orphaned yet again.

Pittsburgh air pollution

Tiny particles of air pollution appear more deadly if from human-made sources

Patients exposed to air pollution in western Pennsylvania were more likely to die than patients exposed to similar levels of air pollution elsewhere.

Black scientists

New study confirms: Structural racism in STEM programs needs fixing

“Our study indicates that something is happening in the classes themselves."

Op-ed: On climate protests, the media misses the point

Op-ed: On climate protests, the media misses the point

What does van Gogh matter to billions of victims of climate inaction?

EPA Michael Regan

EPA's chemical safety rule tests the Biden administration’s commitment to environmental justice

"Cure never happens, prevention never happens in a community where people are sacrificed for others’ gain."

Stay informed: sign up for The Daily Climate newsletter
Top news on climate impacts, solutions, politics, drivers. Delivered to your inbox week days.