Bernie Sanders asks if wildfire smoke and climate change could be ‘psychologically’ damaging

Bernie Sanders
U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, gestures as he speaks for Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum during a campaign stop for Gillum Friday, Aug. 17, 2018, in Tampa, Fla. (Chris O'Meara/AP)

Bernie Sanders asks if wildfire smoke and climate change could be ‘psychologically’ damaging

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called for urgent action to combat the environmental crisis on Thursday, questioning the psychological consequences of climate change on young people.

During a Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions hearing on youth mental health, Sanders advocated the mental health of youth across the nation. His comments came as smoke from Canadian wildfires blanketed much of the East Coast.

WILDFIRE SMOKE MAP: TRACK MASSIVE HAZE IN REAL-TIME ACROSS THE US

Sanders said he had heard concern about the climate from students in Vermont and the rest of the country, pointing to the smog and smoke that Washington, D.C., and New York City are experiencing, which is expected to last for days and affect millions of people.

Sanders said youth wonder if “their political leaders in this country and around the world will address climate change or whether the world that they and their kids will grow up in will be increasingly unhealthy and uninhabitable.”

“You wonder what impact it has on the kids who wonder is this the future and what that does for them psychologically,” Sanders said.

Tuesday was the third-worst day in U.S. history for exposure to wildfire smoke on a population-weighted basis — the smoke from California fires in September 2020 holds the record, according to statistics from Stanford University’s Environmental Change and Human Outcomes Lab.

Sanders has positioned himself as a staunch climate change activist, using the intense smog as a segue to attack the Mountain Valley Pipeline provision passed last week in President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) debt plan.

In a video released Wednesday, Sanders said the emissions from the Mountain Valley Pipeline “will be the equivalent to 37 coal-burning plants in the United States.”

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Sanders voted against the debt ceiling bill last week, writing in the Guardian that he could not support a provision to fast-track a pipeline that creates an easier path for fossil fuel companies “to pollute and destroy the planet.”

“Climate change makes wildfires more frequent and widespread,” Sanders tweeted Thursday evening amid reports of New York experiencing the worst air quality globally, according to the Swiss air quality technology company IQAir. “If we do nothing, this is our new reality. It’s time to act.”

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