The Daily Pennsylvanian spoke with Wharton professor Eric Orts, who recently launched his campaign for the upcoming 2022 election for a US Senate seat for Pennsylvania, to discuss his decision to run for senator from Pennsylvania and of his campaign goals.
Orts said his campaign focused on climate change, which he sees as the most pressing issue of our time. As a senator, he said, he hopes to use his position to achieve meaningful reform. He also said he felt he had a solid chance in the race due to widespread awareness of the “climate emergency” among voters in Pennsylvania.
Orts told the DP that he first thought about running for the Senate after the re-election of Senator Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) And the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Trump’s election was a shock for Orts, who had spent a lot of time denouncing the former president, including posting an article with other Penn professors about the dangers of a candidate like him.
After conversations with friends, colleagues, and politicians, including former Penn professor and current President Joe Biden, Orts began to consider running for the Pennsylvania Senate more seriously. When he found out that none of the women from the “Fab Four” – a name given to four representatives from Pennsylvania who campaigned together – were running, he decided to participate in the race.
Orts said he sees climate change as the most pressing issue facing our world today and as a result he has decided to make it a priority in his campaign. He explained that the United States is currently experiencing a climate emergency due to the ever-changing weather conditions seen across the country.
As a senator, Orts said he would use his position to embrace meaningful climate reform. He also plans to release a “green book” as campaign material to show voters in Pennsylvania the looming danger the state faces from climate change.
He said he sees rising temperatures as the biggest climate effect in Pennsylvania, where heat waves will impact both rural and urban areas.
“One of the biggest threats is jobs. So one of my big issues is that we really have to care about the climate because you have direct effects on labor productivity with the heat waves and the loss of jobs that you would see in industries like agriculture. Said Orts.
Cities like Philadelphia can expect to experience the “heat island effect” where urban areas experience significantly higher temperatures than outlying areas due to the high density of building structures that absorb and emit heat. from the sun.
“If we do nothing about the climate, average daily temperatures in Pennsylvania will rise by about six degrees Fahrenheit by 2050 and we will have seven times more hot, extremely hot days than today,” he said. declared Orts.
He also detailed other expected effects of climate change, such as a shift to extreme weather conditions where Pennsylvania has alternated drought and massive rainfall. Flooding in coastal Delaware could also become more frequent, he said. A lesser-known issue would be a likely increase in vector-borne diseases such as Lyme disease, Orts said.
Orts said he felt confident about his chances of winning the election due to growing concerns about climate change among younger generations. Climate change is a significant issue for about 68% of Democratic voters polled, according to a 2020 Pew Research poll. His campaign expects that number to increase over time as the impact of climate change becomes more apparent.
Beyond his climate-dominated campaign, Orts expects his status as a political outsider to work in his favor, rather than against him, in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania has a large number of Independents, and election results can often depend on the orientation of the Independents. Orts explained that independents 61% prefer foreigners and care about the climate, citing a poll conducted by Monmouth University.
If elected, Orts said he would also work to remove the filibuster, as he sees him as a major obstacle to adopting meaningful climate policy. He also said he supports the Biden administration’s approach to implementing climate change reform by mobilizing our resources and investing in cleaner energy, vehicles and agriculture, which in turn will create jobs in many sectors of the economy.
“I think the way to understand the climate challenge is to realize that there is a really direct threat to our lives, both in terms of our health and our daily existence, including our jobs, but not not be afraid of it but say, look, we really have to do something about it, ”Orts said.