Vote the Environment, Why Don't You!

Poster by Erika Pitcher. Prints available here.
Consider the environment when you vote today.

Really. Think about it.

You may be really very seriously concerned about economics. Job growth. War chests. Gun control. Abortion. Maybe you are planning on voting for someone you don't like in order to ensure the incumbent gets tossed. Say you're voting based on who's better on women's rights. Gay rights. Civil rights. Healthcare. Balancing the budget. Supporting our military. Maybe you just really hate democrats.

Well, listen up: There's only one fundamental truth where each of us is concerned: We live or die based on the condition of the earth.

You don't get job growth without safe drinking water. There is no debate over gun safety without nourishing food. We have no security, no safety without fresh air to breathe. There is one thing that comes before every selfish, philanthropic, compassionate, arrogant stance we take in this world and that's the environment. She shields us, clothes us, feeds us, warms us, cools us, and only ever operates from a neutral, vibrant place.

It's time to stop carrying on in spite of her and start making moves because of her. These moves come in large part out of where we put our money and whose name we check on our voting ballots. Which politicians are willing to stand up and defend her? Who is unwavering in their devotion to Mother Dearest? Who understands the gravity of our environmental situation and the stakes? Whoever that is, that is who you need to go out and support. Today. Right now.
Poster by Kevin M. Fitzgeral. Prints available here.
A mere one-quarter of Americans between 18 and 29 years old are expected to vote in today’s midterm election, according to a study conducted by Harvard University. That is horrendous. Embarrassing. Too few. Hey, young people! We need you! Old people too! Everyone!!  I don't care if you're disillusioned by the two-party system or—gasp—whether you've finally figured out that all politicians are corrupted liars. Feel that way? Then start voting for the other person, the underdog, the green party or libertarian or independent. Better yet, why don't you put your neck out and run for something next go-round? Elected officials in small towns can actually make big changes for communities. In some ways, there's more power to effect change on the local level than there is for some puppet politician at the federal level. So get involved!

Look back in time, two, three, even four decades ago. There were glimmers then about what we were doing to the environment and to each other. A whole lot of people got together back in those days for the anti-war movement. John Lennon and Yoko Ono staged their bed protests: Hair Peace. Bed Peace. People harnessed their energy and pressured the political arena. And you know what? We pulled out of Vietnam. It happened. The republic had spoken. So why would it be so far-fetched to think that in this era, we might be able to harness that public energy again in order to make big, environmental changes? To abolish fracking once and for all? To finally put an end to drilling for oil? Or overall demand for oil? Or an overwhelming shift in perspective about how we live our lives in general? If the general public can end wars and push uptight politicians to accept recreational marijuana use, is it so far-fetched to think we could make compost toilets the norm and end our reliance on fracked gas and oil? Or that we could put an end to the endlessly diverted waterways out west? That we could refuse, with the force of millions, to subsidize huge corporations that couldn't care less about us?

It's not fair that we would have to be drowning below sea level or actually have run out of wild-caught fish for people to vote for the environment. California shouldn't have to dry out entirely for us to consider our elected officials' stances on water conservation. Glaciers shouldn't have to go the way of the woolly mammoth before we are willing to discuss climate change on a political level. Ditto for lakes and rivers being deemed unfishable, unswimmable before we're willing to vote for someone who will protect our waterways. Don't wait for every last ounce of oil to be drawn from the ground and every reserve to be cashed in on. Don't let some bigwig frack in every available spot, provide jobs for the next 80 years and make some fat cats even fatter; before we realize we can't actually eat all those dollar bills.

Give me a break.

Vote the Environment. She's the only renewable resource on the planet besides hope and love.
Vote Mother Earth. She's the only politician with a literal platform: the ground beneath your feet.
Vote the Planet: Because manufactured meat, farmed salmon, and GMOs ain't gonna cut it.

We are in the middle of a crisis far more interesting, exciting, terrifying and opportunistic than Miley Cyrus' latest rant, Lena Dunham's embarrassing memoir, or Brangelina's wedding photos. We're talking climate change. Extinction. Destruction of wild places. Record droughts. Rising sea levels. Severe storms and weather patterns. Dogs and cats, living together! It all keeps happening, even while we keep arguing over who we'll vote for based on who gives a crap about health care, birth control or how many bullets can go into a gun. This is like a magician getting you to look at one hand while he sleights with the other.

Stop being so distracted!

What if we refused to vote for the lesser evil in the polls and instead rooted for independents, libertarians, the Green Party—anyone who refused to stand down on environmental issues? What if we told the two-party system to take a hike?

It's time to draw the proverbial line in the sand: DO NOT CROSS! We will not let you! This has gone too far. We've had it!

So compost. Host farm-to-table dinner parties. Love each other and forgive and go love some more. Eat organic. Ditch sugar. Pick up trash, recycle, help to conserve our wild places. And, for goodness sakes, vote for priority numero uno! What good is that voice the world gave you if you don't use it to defend her?

Nicole Caldwell

Nicole Caldwell is a self-taught environmentalist, green-living savant and sustainability educator with more than a decade of professional writing experience. She is also the co-founder of Better Farm and president of betterArts. Nicole’s work has been featured in Mother Earth News, Reader’s Digest, Time Out New York, and many other publications. Her first book, Better: The Everyday Art of Sustainable Living, is due out this July through New Society Publishers.