As a new study is out this week tying climate change to a major loss of ocean fish worldwide, the governor of one of America's largest fishing states is entering the 2020 Democratic presidential race.
Fish populations are declining as oceans warm, putting a key source of food and income at risk for millions of people around the world, according to new research published Thursday.
The study found that the amount of seafood that humans could sustainably harvest from a wide range of species shrank by 4.1 percent from 1930 to 2010, a casualty of human-caused climate change.
“That 4 percent decline sounds small, but it’s 1.4 million metric tons of fish from 1930 to 2010,” said Chris Free, the lead author of the study, which appears in the journal Science.
Scientists have warned that global warming will put pressure on the world’s food supplies in coming decades. But the new findings — which separate the effects of warming waters from other factors, like overfishing — suggest that climate change is already having a serious impact on seafood.
Fish make up 17 percent of the global population’s intake of protein, and as much as 70 percent for people living in some coastal and island countries, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
“Fish provide a vital source of protein for over half of the global population, and some 56 million people worldwide are supported in some way by marine fisheries,” Dr. Free said.
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee announced he is entering the race this morning and is running on fighting climate change as the number one issue for America.
Inslee, who is the chief executive in Washington state, served as the chair of the Democratic Governors Association during the 2018 midterms. In a field where the biggest names are almost all US senators, Inslee is planning to lean heavily on his executive experience and talk about how progressive politics can turn states like his into economic juggernauts.
“We are, according to CNBC, the best place to do business this year. And the reasons for that in part are because of our progressive policies,” Inslee told Vox last year. “We welcome computer scientists and geneticists who are helping to cure cancer instead of denying them because they’re Muslim. We have policies that protect our environment so we have a great place to live, clean water and clean air; as a result, it’s a great way to recruit people to come here.”
Inslee is making climate change his No. 1 priority, but he doesn’t want to be a single-issue candidate. Instead, Inslee is treating climate change like an umbrella issue under which other issues like the economy, health care, and national security also fit.
The Washington state governor plans to tie each issue to the broader theme of using the power of the presidency to dramatically lower America’s carbon output and scale up renewable energy.
“He’s going to use the full power of the presidency to defeat climate change,” an Inslee aide told Vox. “This is different than saying you support the Green New Deal.
Inslee is originally from Seattle and has lived in Washington for much of his life. He’s held a number of roles in politics, serving in the Washington state legislature and a brief term in the US House in the early 1990s. After a failed run for governor in 1996, he served as a regional director for President Bill Clinton’s Department of Health and Human Services.
Inslee returned to the US House late in that decade, where he served until he was elected governor in 2012. He’s presided over a time of economic growth; Washington is consistently in the top 10 state economies, according to rankings from US News & World Report and USA Today.
Washington’s governor has argued the progressive policies he’s embraced have had a big hand in attracting people to his state. That’s been especially prescient during the Trump administration, where the federal government has made its opposition to transgender people, Latinos, and Muslim immigrants well-known. Inslee has made it a point to push back against Trump’s policies and underscore that his state is a welcoming place for all.
“A lot of people over the years have argued that environmental laws or laws involving equity and who you can marry are inimical,” Inslee said. “In fact, they’re actually crucial to economic development. Some of the hottest economies are places with these progressive policies.”
It's a good idea. Inslee's argument is that climate change is so important that it affects every other major Democratic platform plank: racial equality, criminal justice reform, women's rights, LGBTQ equality, national security, jobs and the economy, public infrastructure, universal health care, child care, affordable housing, sustainable agriculture, public education, you name it, and he's got a solid point.
Climate change is going to make all of these other issues more difficult and more expensive because it will be hurting everyone, adding a growing cost to everything the federal government tries to do. Therefore, Inslee argues, the federal government should be doing everything it can in a way to fight back as it's the only sensible and moral course of action.
It's a strong argument. How well it will resonate with an American populace where half of us have been trained for decades to laugh at climate change, I don't know.