Throughout September, activists and concerned citizens around the globe and right here in Athens took to the streets to raise awareness about our planet’s impending doom.

It was a busy month, from 16-year-old Greta Thunberg addressing world leaders at the United Nations’ Climate Action Summit to a nationwide climate strike, the climate change debate is noticeably heating up. 

Civil disobedience and activism are great ways to bring attention to an important cause, but there's one issue with this approach — a climate march won’t stop Exxon and BP from turning our planet into a fiery hellscape.

If there is money to be made in Earth’s ultimate demise, then the soulless oil executives who cash eight-figure checks will continue to do so, like Exxon’s CEO, who makes a humble $17.5 million salary.

In fact, a 2017 study shows half of all greenhouse gas emissions since 1988 can be traced to just 25 fossil fuel producers. So, next time Billie Eilish and Woody Harrelson take to Twitter to declare a climate emergency while also not specifying what to do about it, remember it’s not the average person’s fault. 

Billionaires and those in power who profit off of death and destruction can only be deterred in one way: the fear that their power is in jeopardy. The war for those issues is truly won at the ballot box. 

The most effective vehicle of change in democracy is the power to vote. Showing up and voting out the right-wing climate deniers, who find themselves unable to accept and understand the most basic science while also holding unprecedented amounts of political power, is the most effective way to circumvent the west’s inaction towards climate change. 

Widespread political action, however, requires an overwhelming consensus among the public that something needs to change, and that’s why those marches and protests are encouraging. Unfortunately, the public support may not be widespread enough in time. According to a Gallup Poll, only 59% of Americans prioritize the environment over energy production. That may not be enough. 

Serious action will take a mobilization rarely seen in modern politics. Americans will have to unify under the acceptance that jobs and economic growth may be affected, and that isn’t an easy thing to sell. 

The unfortunate reality is that until the state of the environment is so undeniably dire, many Americans will not be willing to risk their jobs to vote out the oil-friendly Republicans in office. 

In the meantime, the best course of action is not simply just voting, but organizing behind local politicians, state senators and national candidates who will fight for change. Informing friends and family, knocking on doors for candidates and showing up every year to vote at every possible opportunity is our planet’s only remaining hope.

When legitimate political action is coupled with protest, change can be influenced. As of now, the results are encouraging. Voter turnout sky-rocketed among college students in the 2020 midterms. 

Issues such as gerrymandering and voter suppression will also play a role in removing climate deniers with oil lobbies in their pockets from office. If that engagement can be paired with  policy change, hope is still alive. 

Noah Wright is a junior studying strategic communication at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Noah? Tweet him @NoahCampaign.

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