Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Environmentalists Can Make Opinions Count by Doing One Simple Thing
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Chances are the activists with the Hailey Climate Action Coalition voted in the last election. But if they didn’t, they may want to flog themselves with a bunch of washed up plastic straws.
 
Thursday, July 25, 2019
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

Climate change has risen to the top of Americans’ concerns.

But, when it comes to voting, environmentalists are apparently busy hugging trees.

Politicians haven’t paid much attention to environmentalists in the past because they don’t take the time to vote, the founder and director of The Environmental Voter Project told 200 people attending the Sun Valley Forum Thursday.

“We’ve been able to identify 20.1 million voters who care deeply about the environment, but they’re awful voters, said Nathaniel Stinnett. “Only half—10.1 million of those--voted in the 2016 election. They may be registered to vote, but they aren’t showing up at the polls.”

And, if you don’t vote, your opinion doesn’t matter at all to the politicians, he added. The only opinions that count are those whose previous polling records show they’re likely to show up at the voting booth.

Stinnett was part of a Political Climate podcast presented by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute moderated by Julia Pyper at the Argyros Performing Arts Center in Ketchum. The podcast was part of three days of nonstop talks by innovators sharing ideas for tackling Climate Change at the fifth annual Sun Valley Forum.

Stinnett described how his organization has been targeting several states—Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada and Pennsylvania. And it will soon add other states.  It picked these states because they have an enormous number of non-voting environmentalists, he said.

Even increasing the number of voters among environmentalists by 2 percent or 3 percent would be a big deal, he added.

“You need to realize that the entire game is not the federal government. Local and state government can change a planet,” he said.

The NRA (National Rifle Association) has done a great job of getting people who care about gun rights to view voting as the highest pinnacle of civilization, he said.

“We need to do that with environmentalists, as well,” he added.

Two percent of Americans in 2016 listed the environment as their No. 1 priority. Seven percent identified it as their No. 1 priority in the midterm elections, and the percentage is growing. In Georgia 89  percent of those polled by Stinnett’s group listed climate and the environment as their No. 1 or 2 priority.

Politicians are taking notice. Even Donald Trump included the environment in a recent speech, which shows his strategists are seeing a shift. And Democrats, who went an entire debate without answering a single question about climate change a few years ago, want to make the entire debate about climate change because that’s what voters want, Stinnett said

Realizing that environmentalists are so bad at showing up at the polls is actually good news for those who want to make climate change a key issue, Stinnett said.

“We live in a time when trying to change people’s mind is almost impossible. But, perhaps, it’s easier to get them to vote. And chances are they will vote on according to the way they aligned with their priority.”

Twenty million voters of 208 million registered voters is enormous, he said, when you consider that the last election was decided by 77,000 votes in three states.

Shane Skelton, offering the Republican point of view for the podcast, noted that Republicans were not talking about climate change for a long time because no one was talking about it on Fox News.

“I’ve been frustrated with my party that we’re not embracing the issue,” he admitted.

“The environmentalists who are activists need to keep the pressure on,” added Brandon Hurlbut, who provided the Democrat voice.

TAKE A TRIP AND BRING BACK A SOUVENIR

Be sure and check out the free virtual reality journeys being offered to the Amazon, Africa and the ocean by Conservation International.

The experience is real enough that you’ll feel like you’re falling from the top of the rainforest. You’ll flinch to avoid getting splashed by the canoe paddle. And you will desperately find yourself trying to touch the trunk of the baby elephant reaching out to kiss you.

The Virtual Reality experiences open to the public will be available all day today in the conference room of the Limelight Hotel.

While there, check out the blow darts and other Amazon crafts available for sale in the lobby of the Argyros Performing Arts Center, along withTtostan necklaces and fantastical photographs by Benjamin Von Wong.


 

 

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