Climate Change And The Minnesota Governor’s Race

Climate Change Will Play A Starring Role In Minnesota Governor’s Race
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Eric Miller / Reuters

Dr. Michael Mann, the Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Science at Penn State University and one of the nation’s top climate scientists announced that he was endorsing Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto in her effort to succeed the outgoing Governor Mark Dayton in 2018.

Normally, a prominent scientist’s endorsement of a gubernatorial candidate wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But with Trump’s fatally flawed decision to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, and his appointment of fossil fuel industry puppets to key environmental posts (such as Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency and Ryan Zinke at the Interior Department) climate change (and our response to it) has taken on new political significance.

Dr. Mann, whose research helped produce the famed “hockey stick” graph showing that global temperatures have spiked since the Industrial Revolution, said he was endorsing the three-term Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto for governor because of “her decades-long focus on addressing climate change on a personal and professional level and her plans to create jobs in the new clean energy economy.” He also pointed to Ms. Otto’s “nationally award-winning report on how local governments can reduce energy costs dramatically by switching to clean, carbon-free energy sources.”

Ms. Otto’s entry into the governor’s race guarantees that when Minnesotans go to the polls next year climate change, the existential threat it poses, and what steps we must take to counter it, will be front and center. The political press for too long has allowed politicians get away with avoiding the problem or fudging up the science (as we saw Scott Pruitt do from the White House press room on the morning Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord).

Dr. Mann’s endorsement of Ms. Otto for Minnesota governor, along with the success of the recent “March for Science,” shows that scientists are beginning to realize time is running out and that they must make their voices heard. All of us must ask the question: Are we going to sit by while a gaggle of fanatics led by a right-wing charlatan destroys our planet?

Mann’s endorsement could be an early sign that there’s something big happening here. The Trump regime has emboldened climate change deniers and the industrialists and propagandists that support them as never before; they have reached the pinnacle of power in the United States.

But the pushback is well underway as millions of people across the country dedicate themselves to countering Trump and his gang of imbalanced billionaires and millionaires who apparently don’t give a damn about future generations or the future of the planet.

In Minnesota a true champion of clean energy has entered the governor’s race and won the endorsement from a top climate scientist. Let’s hope Rebecca Otto’s gubernatorial bid sets an example for other state and local races.

It’s imperative we begin the long-term project of shifting our political discourse away from Trump’s toxic view of the Earth’s atmosphere as nothing more than a big garbage dump and have a real dialogue about climate change that is as serious in nature as the cataclysm that awaits us.

Dr. Mann’s endorsement of Ms. Otto in Minnesota could mark the beginning of a new green politics rising up throughout America. Call it a “litmus test” or whatever you like, but millions of citizens are going to refuse to cast their votes in favor of any politician, Republican, Democrat, or Independent, who ignores (or helps accelerate) the defining crisis of our age: anthropogenic global warming. The Minnesota governor’s race just got a lot more interesting.

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