Earlier this fall, the world’s top climate scientists gave humanity about 10 years to avoid a future that really sucks. With the midterm elections right around the corner, that warning means voters are effectively deciding which candidates to trust with the keys to the climate. If voters are sufficiently worried about warming, that anxiety might help determine who is put in office.
According to Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, worry is a stronger predictor of policy support than other emotions. “We found that it’s not fear, it’s not anger, and it’s not disgust or guilt,” he explained. “Worry doesn’t hijack, doesn’t overwhelm, rationality. It can really spur it.”
So just how worried about the planet’s future are voters in the nation’s tightest congressional races? Grist created a map overlaying competitive elections, as identified by The Cook Political Report, with climate concern data from Yale’s 2018 Climate Opinion Maps.
New Jersey’s 7th congressional district stretches from New York City’s western suburbs all the way to the banks of the Delaware River. Not only does the river serve as the water supply for more than 15 million Americans, but it’s also a source of considerable climate worry for constituents.
Polluted runoff finds its way into waterways which add to the district’s rising rivers, damaging families, homes, and businesses. Climate change-related flooding threatens the quality of life across the district according to Ed Potosnak, executive director of the New Jersey League of Conservation Voters. “That’s where lack of action by Congress has left families vulnerable,” he told Grist.
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