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Coral Davenport

Polls show that fighting climate change, after years of languishing behind other issues, is now a top priority for Democratic voters, and candidates are talking about global warming far more than in recent elections.

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The former vice president’s proposals came just hours before another senior Democrat, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, released her own climate plan. Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, whose presidential campaign is centered on fighting climate change, has called for the United States to be carbon neutral by 2045.

Mr. Biden’s environmental targets are generally in line with the goals of the Green New Deal, the expansive plan put forward by two other Democrats, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts. Republicans have described the measure as extreme and unrealistic.

On Tuesday, when Mr. Biden made his announcement, environmental activists largely lauded the plan. Some pointed to the influence of the Green New Deal.

“The pressure worked,” said Varshini Prakash, executive director of the Sunrise Movement, which has championed Ms. Ocasio-Cortez’s proposal.

“We forced them to backtrack and today, he put out a comprehensive climate plan that cites the Green New Deal and names climate change as the greatest challenge facing America and the world.”

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Their finding: Every metric ton of carbon or its equivalent melted 3 square meters, or 32 square feet.

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“This number is sufficiently intuitive to allow one to grasp the contribution of personal CO2 emissions to the loss of Arctic sea ice,” the researchers wrote dryly.

Indeed. I plugged in numbers from a carbon-footprint calculator and … no, that couldn’t be right. But I kept doing the math and kept getting the same answer: My family’s one-week winter-break trip to Florida would melt 90 square feet.

By this point, we had already decided to go to Greece for summer vacation, a far more destructive journey. I felt compelled to mention this, too, at the end of the story. I could not think of anything to say about it other than that we plan to buy carbon offsets and hope for the best.

The response on social media was swift and unsparing. Some readers discovered that to be a disappointing and cowardly place to finish up. One argued that, by specializing in particular person journey, I used to be letting large firms and state actors off the hook for his or her big emissions.

I most popular to consider myself as being painfully sincere. You’ll be able to learn the story right here.


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