Ali Velshi began his discussion with Congressman Ryan by inquiring about a small, blue bracelet that Ryan wore. Ryan explained that it was an ocean plastic bracelet from his daughter. “It starts with the straws and the sea turtles,” Ryan said, showing his bracelet to the crowd and explaining that his daughter’s environmental consciousness is forever growing in scope and passion. Part of the reason Ryan is so passionate about tackling climate change is that he recognizes that his children will experience its effects full-force, and he wants to lessen that blow. Raising awareness about climate change early on is merely one step towards tackling the broader issue.
In addition to his concern for future generations, Ryan underscored how climate change is critical to our economic well-being. Coming from the industrial Midwest, he has experienced firsthand the “decimation of a workforce over time” as factory after factory has closed. “I’m the best person in the race to call BS on [Trump] because I’m from there,” Ryan declared, referencing Trump’s false claim that he has helped to create a boom in manufacturing jobs. To both create jobs and fight climate change, Ryan highlighted his proposal to enact regenerative agriculture across the country. In this system, farmers don’t till the soil; they simply plant crops on top of the soil continuously, which collects organic material like carbon in the soil. The appeal of regenerative agriculture, Ryan told the crowd, is that it becomes profitable within a year, enabling farmers to reinvest that money back in their communities.
Throughout his hour, Ryan reiterated that climate change is not a partisan issue, and that we need to “get away from the left and right conversation.” He views bipartisanship as critical to improving our interactions with the environment, stating that no one benefits when Democrats put in place pro-climate policies only to see them rolled back by Republicans, and vice versa. “The absolute worst thing for the environment is for Donald Trump to be president for four more years,” Ryan said; Trump will only increase party polarization and continue to distract us from our common goal of reducing the effects of climate change.
GREEN Analysis, Vikram Venkatram
A sense of personal connection to climate change permeated Tim Ryan’s Climate Forum appearance, from his daughter’s bracelet made of ocean plastics to his own upbringing in the manufacturing sectors of the United States. Ryan emphasized his unique role as a member of the communities heavily invested in high carbon-output industries like agriculture and the automotive industry, and this connection is indeed likely to appeal to populations who feel most threatened by climate action. Ryan’s focuses on regenerative agriculture and manufacturing turns attention towards addressing climate change yet preserves economic security and prosperity in focused, practical ways.