Bay Nature magazineFall 2020


Letter from the Editor: Beyond Voting

September 27, 2020

We recognize Bay Nature is a regional magazine. We cover the counties touching San Francisco Bay and a bit beyond into Northern California. That’s part of what makes it an unusual publication, one that reports on places and people you can know. 

But now is a time to look up from local interests and focus on the national moment, the elephant in the room, as it were. This presidential election matters tremendously if you care about nature. And Californians do. 

Across racial and ethnic groups, climate change is the most important environmental issue to Californians. Seventy-seven percent of adults in California approve of the state’s laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, zero out emissions from commercial trucks sold in state, and convert all of the state’s electricity to renewable energy, according to a July 2020 report by the Public Policy Institute of California, a nonpartisan nonprofit. 

“Californians are more likely than Americans nationwide to say the issue of global warming is extremely or very important to them personally, and most are willing to make major lifestyle changes,” Mark Baldassare, PPIC president and CEO, wrote in the report.

When asked about the presidential race and the environment, Californian voters were largely in agreement. “Eight in 10 California likely voters say the presidential candidates’ positions on the environment are important in determining their vote,” Baldassare wrote.

But in a presidential election, Californians have to do more than vote to ensure we are fairly represented. We account for 12 percent of the U.S. population, but just 10 percent of the electoral college votes. Each of our 55 electoral votes represents roughly 719,000 people. While each of Wyoming’s three electoral votes represents roughly 193,000 people. 

The discrepancy is a constitutional problem, well understood by many readers, that by all projections will only worsen. Until it’s addressed, Californians must push themselves to participate in the election beyond voting.

It’s an unfair, exhausting proposition at a time when we are struggling with the effects of the pandemic, drought, and wildfire. But if you want Californian environmental values represented in the White House, you need to engage with people who live in swing states, however you may define those. There are umpteen resources available to help you connect with swing state voters, places and people you may not know. Find the energy and do it.

Bay Nature’s mission is to motivate people to solve problems with nature in mind. Please vote with nature in mind. And then make sure others vote with nature in mind.

About the Author

Victoria Schlesinger is the editor in chief of Bay Nature.

Read This Next

School’s Out(side)

Conservation Easements Around the State