Ask someone at a Bernie Sanders rally which issues they prioritize and answers will range from the cost of higher education to income inequality to healthcare. However, look around the room at Sanders’ Jan. 31 rally in Waterloo, Iowa, and one issue stands out — climate change.
At this Sanders’ rally, volunteers passed out stickers that read “Bernie 2016: Ask Me About Climate Change.” By the time the rally started, nearly all of the more than 600 people in attendance were wearing one.
Recent college graduate Pete Collins wore an “Iowans against climate change” t-shirt to the rally and says he plans to caucus for Sanders for a number of reasons, including Sanders’ stance on environmental issues. Collins says America needs to stop big polluters and invest in clean energy.
“He seems really passionate about renewable energy whenever he talks about climate change,” Collins says. “You can tell it’s a big issue to him, and his track record is pretty good there.”
Collins says environmental protection is important to him because he lives by a lake that has become polluted from agricultural runoff. While Collins says he enjoys kayaking and canoeing in the lake, he is not always able to because the pollution levels can be too high at times.
Collins says other issues important to him include the high cost of college education, big business and wealth inequality. He says he thinks Sanders is the candidate most prepared to deal with these issues.
“He’s the most progressive,” Collins says. “He’s the only one really talking about it. He’s definitely most able to make a change.”
High school student Chloe Sparks says the cost of higher education is the most important issue for her in the 2016 election, but environmental protection is also important. She says she shares Sanders’ views that climate change is a significant problem, and the U.S. needs to switch to clean energy.
At the Oct. 13 Democratic debate, Sanders called climate change a threat to national security. Sparks says she agrees with this view because climate change impacts every aspect of human life.
Sanders has said fighting climate change is one of his top issues, and he spoke about it during the rally. Sanders told the crowd that the U.S. needs to switch to sustainable energy, and he praised Iowans for their state’s use of wind energy and biofuels.