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It's Official: Young People Want Our Country Powered by Renewables
Yesterday NextGen Climate released polling showing that young voters in key presidential swing states are looking for a presidential candidate with a plan to tackle climate change, strengthen our economy, create jobs and improve public health by accelerating the transition to clean energy. In a poll of young voters in key battleground states conducted by Hart Research, 74 percent of voters under 35 said they would be more likely to vote for a presidential candidate who set a goal for powering America with 50 percent clean energy by 2030. A clear majority of these young voters—more than 80 million of whom are eligible to vote in 2016—say that this goal is “necessary” and “an important priority” for the country.
Young Americans strongly back proposals that will accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, grow our economy and create jobs. Photo credit: Stefanie Spear
“Presidential candidates should take notice: young voters will turn out on Election Day for leaders with a concrete plan to build a clean energy future,” said NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer. “If presidential candidates want to win over young voters—and win the White House—they need to lay out a plan to achieve more than 50 percent clean energy by 2030.”
“Young voters see climate change as a serious threat and are looking for a presidential candidate with a forward-looking vision to solving our country’s toughest economic problems—presenting clear potential for a candidate who has a bold plan around expanding clean energy to heighten their enthusiasm and capture the votes of young Americans,” said Hart Research President Geoff Garin.
Young Americans strongly back proposals that will accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy, grow our economy and create jobs. In fact, 68 percent of young voters believe that achieving more than 50 percent clean energy by 2030 would have a positive effect on America’s economy overall and create jobs. The poll finds there is no downside for candidates in committing to an ambitious clean energy goal and there is a considerable potential upside. Sixty-three percent of young voters say they’d be more likely to vote for Hillary Clinton if she supports this ambitious clean energy goal. In fact 26 percent of voters who did not initially support Clinton or only weakly supported her—including a disproportionate number of young voters—say they would be more likely to vote for Clinton if she committed to achieving more than 50 percent clean energy by 2030.
Young voters are set to play a critical part in choosing our next president and deciding the future of our country and two thirds of young Americans—including a majority of Republicans—believe that spurring innovation and investment in clean energy and creating 21st century jobs should be an important issue in the upcoming presidential race. NextGen Climate is committed to engaging these voters on this critical issue through innovative digital, cultural engagement and campus organizing campaigns.
This week, NextGen Climate and Reverb launched the national Campus Consciousness Tour—a series of concerts promoting clean energy and featuring musicians like Nate Ruess. The tour is part of NextGen Climate’s effort to bring voices influential with young Americans into the fight for a clean energy future. Other recent efforts include a video produced by NextGen Climate, “Climate Deniers Be Cray!,” featuring comedian Jenny Slate taking on climate change deniers in Washington, DC NextGen Climate also ran ads on Snapchat during the first Republican debate, which reached tens of thousands of young voters in Ohio, New Hampshire and Iowa and ignited an authentic conversation among young voters about the need to take action on climate change.
In the key presidential states of Iowa and New Hampshire, NextGen Climate is organizing on more than 34 local colleges and universities to engage with students on the need for presidential candidates to embrace the transition to a clean energy economy. In the weeks and months ahead, NextGen Climate will continue to use innovative digital, field and cultural engagement tactics to engage young voters on the need for our leaders to lay out a plan to achieve more than 50 percent clean energy by 2030.
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The rallying cry to build it again and to build it better than before is inspiring after a natural disaster, but it may not be the best course of action, according to new research published in the journal Science.
"Faced with global warming, rising sea levels, and the climate-related extremes they intensify, the question is no longer whether some communities will retreat—moving people and assets out of harm's way—but why, where, when, and how they will retreat," the study begins.
The researchers suggest that it is time to rethink retreat, which is often seen as a last resort and a sign of weakness. Instead, it should be seen as the smart option and an opportunity to build new communities.
"We propose a reconceptualization of retreat as a suite of adaptation options that are both strategic and managed," the paper states. "Strategy integrates retreat into long-term development goals and identifies why retreat should occur and, in doing so, influences where and when."
The billions of dollars spent to rebuild the Jersey Shore and to create dunes to protect from future storms after Superstorm Sandy in 2012 may be a waste if sea level rise inundates the entire coastline.
"There's a definite rhetoric of, 'We're going to build it back better. We're going to win. We're going to beat this. Something technological is going to come and it's going to save us,'" said A.R. Siders, an assistant professor with the disaster research center at the University of Delaware and lead author of the paper, to the New York Times. "It's like, let's step back and think for a minute. You're in a fight with the ocean. You're fighting to hold the ocean in place. Maybe that's not the battle we want to pick."
Rethinking retreat could make it a strategic, efficient, and equitable way to adapt to the climate crisis, the study says.
Dr. Siders pointed out that it has happened before. She noted that in the 1970s, the small town of Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin moved itself out of the flood plain after one too many floods. The community found and reoriented the business district to take advantage of highway traffic and powered it entirely with solar energy, as the New York Times reported.
That's an important lesson now that rising sea levels pose a catastrophic risk around the world. Nearly 75 percent of the world's cities are along shorelines. In the U.S. alone coastline communities make up nearly 40 percent of the population— more than 123 million people, which is why Siders and her research team are so forthright about the urgency and the complexities of their findings, according to Harvard Magazine.
Some of those complexities include, coordinating moves across city, state or even international lines; cultural and social considerations like the importance of burial grounds or ancestral lands; reparations for losses or damage to historic practices; long-term social and psychological consequences; financial incentives that often contradict environmental imperatives; and the critical importance of managing retreat in a way that protects vulnerable and poor populations and that doesn't exacerbate past injustices, as Harvard Magazine reported.
If communities could practice strategic retreats, the study says, doing so would not only reduce the need for people to choose among bad options, but also improve their circumstances.
"It's a lot to think about," said Siders to Harvard Magazine. "And there are going to be hard choices. It will hurt—I mean, we have to get from here to some new future state, and that transition is going to be hard.…But the longer we put off making these decisions, the worse it will get, and the harder the decisions will become."
To help the transition, the paper recommends improved access to climate-hazard maps so communities can make informed choices about risk. And, the maps need to be improved and updated regularly, the paper said as the New York Times reported.
"It's not that everywhere should retreat," said Dr. Siders to the New York Times. "It's that retreat should be an option. It should be a real viable option on the table that some places will need to use."
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