I look forward to the day (hopefully soon) where we have the luxury of looking back and learning from this coronavirus pandemic – instead of the triage mode we’re in right now. To all those on the front lines, including my mother, I thank each of you with my whole heart.

Of all the lessons we take away from this crisis, one in particular is at the top of my list: Listen to the scientists, and listen to them early.

Taking expert advice and guidance when shaping public policy doesn’t make a leader weak – it makes them prepared.

What is clear to me is that Donald Trump ignored the warnings, underestimated the threat and left America on its heels instead of preparing us for the most catastrophic public health crisis of our lifetimes.

We have another existential threat that is already hitting the shores of our beloved Maine coast, and, coincidentally, it’s another crisis that Donald Trump has referred to as a Chinese hoax: climate change.

And on this 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a day that we take to celebrate the natural wonders of the world and the progress that has been made, we cannot overlook those leaders who fail to act, creating what will become an uninhabitable planet for future generations.

Here in Portland and across the country – and the globe – scientists have been warning us about the need to act now to prevent the further devastation of our climate.

Sea levels are rising and entire cities could go underwater in a matter of years. The icecaps are melting and natural disasters are intensifying, killing more Americans and ravaging our communities.

Climate change is a threat to our cities, like Portland. It’s a threat to our crops and our farms. It’s a threat to our schools, parks, libraries and infrastructure. National defense experts even agree that climate change is a threat to our core national security.

But instead of taking the urgent and necessary action that scientists are begging for, Donald Trump has instead gutted the Environmental Protection Agency, loosened environmental regulations and pulled America out of the historic Paris climate accord.

He has not only downplayed the threat of climate change, but also openly promoted climate science deniers. Donald Trump, and Republicans across the country, insist on refusing to take action and kowtowing to fossil fuel companies and polluters.

We can’t survive another four years of this reckless behavior with our climate – our planet literally won’t be able to withstand it.

We need real leadership to protect our climate: the future of our planet – and the future of our kids and grandkids – depends on it.

As president, Joe Biden is going to rebuild our infrastructure in a way that can, first and foremost, withstand the impacts of climate change – but also help mitigate it by being truly energy efficient. He’s going to help the United States achieve a 100 percent clean-energy economy and ensure that we, as a nation, reach net-zero emissions by 2050.

He’s going to stand up to the corporations who are polluting our air and water and hold them accountable for their misdeeds.

And he’s going to make the United States a global leader on this issue once again – by rejoining the Paris climate accord and bringing countries together to fight climate change.

We’ve seen what Donald Trump’s brand of leadership-from-behind looks like: It’s a disaster. It leaves American cities and states devastated and countless families destroyed.

Climate change is the existential threat of our generation. And if we want to leave a livable planet for our kids and grandkids, we need to tackle it head on, now.

This Earth Day, let’s recommit ourselves to taking action – for our planet, for our city, and for our loved ones that we’ve met and have yet to meet.

Let’s work to elect a leader who listens to the scientists, this time before it’s too late. Let’s elect Joe Biden.

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