I was devastated by last Tuesday’s election results. There are many reasons I object to Donald Trump (like his racist lies about crime) and many reasons I hoped for a Democratic majority in Congress, but what I’m writing about here is our environment. Even if you voted Republican, you may not want to live in a polluted wasteland that’s getting hotter every decade, so while this government is advancing the parts of its agenda that won your vote, you’ll want to take action to keep Earth habitable. What can we do?
First, it is not too late to stop Trump from taking office! It’s possible for the Electoral College to vote for the winner of the popular vote (Hillary Clinton) so that she becomes President instead. This probably won’t happen, but it’s worthwhile to speak up if you support the idea. (A more realistic goal is to abolish the Electoral College before the next election. How is it fair that a Wyoming resident’s vote counts 4 times as much as a Texas resident’s vote?!? We the people should get one vote each! Here’s more about what’s wrong with the Electoral College, and here’s what we wrote about it before the 2000 election disaster.) We’d still have the Republicans in Congress, but they can do less harm with a Democratic President.
Next, start now stuffing Trump’s suggestion box with pleas for environmental protection! Especially, oppose his absurd goal of abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency–it will be bad enough if he appoints someone blatantly anti-environment to head the EPA, but if he manages to get rid of it entirely, we’ll really be at the mercy of big polluters as our state governments scrabble to protect us (or don’t even try, as is likely in some states). This action plan for slowing global warming includes many good ideas to advocate. Will Trump’s administration really heed the input of ordinary Americans? The fact that they’re asking for it means it’s worth a try.
Also, start now making contributions to organizations that lobby for the environment and/or sue polluters. My favorites are Natural Resources Defense Council and Environmental Defense Fund and Union of Concerned Scientists. It’s easiest to set up a monthly donation (put it on the credit card whose rewards scheme is most useful to you!) so that you donate consistently and kind of painlessly; this also minimizes the nagging emails you’ll get, and I’ve found that environmental organizations are better than other charities at reducing paper mail when you ask them. Think you can’t afford to donate? Look for changes you can make to save money and the environment, and put aside the difference. Another option is to make something environmentally friendly that you can sell (for example, root cuttings from your plants and pot them in repurposed containers that you decorate) and donate the profits.
As issues come up affecting the environment, contact your senator and congressional representative encouraging them to vote for a clean and healthy world. Phone calls may be more effective than email or paper letters, but if you aren’t able to call during office hours, emailing is better than doing nothing–staffers often count the pro and con emails received about an issue, even if they don’t have time to read each one in full.
Vote with your purchases. The main reason Republicans in general oppose environmental regulations is not that they want all living things to be poisoned and fried to a crisp, but that they want businesses to make as much money as possible. One thing that is giving me hope is that during the George W. Bush administration, 2001-2009, despite the anti-environmental attitude and actions of the President and Congress, ordinary citizens’ interest in being more “green” surged, making environmentally friendly options far more available than they had been. Trend analysts pay a lot of attention to this kind of thing, and businesses respond. That’s why they took the genetically-modified organisms out of Cheerios and Grape-nuts, for example. Consumer pressure works! Do your best to show corporate America that we want less packaging, fewer harmful chemicals, more organic and vegetarian foods, more reusable products, more renewable energy, more fuel-efficient engines, more public transit, and so forth.
Get ready for 2018! Check out your representatives’ environmental scorecards, and if they’re not doing their jobs protecting Earth, get ready to throw the bums out and elect someone greener! Every representative in the House and 1/3 of the Senate will be up for re-election in 2018.
What else can we do? Did I miss anything?
I’m still appalled by the election results, but doing what I can to work toward making the world a better place works for me! Just in case I sound too chirpy here, let me add: I’ve been working on this for a long time. Not only did I slog onward in my ever-greener lifestyle throughout the George W. Bush administration, but I was dodging excess packaging and picking up recyclables and line-drying laundry during the first George Bush administration and on through the Clinton years. It isn’t always easy, but I’m truly speaking from experience when I tell you that trying to do the right thing has always been worth it.