This election cycle, there are many candidates running and many issues being talked about. Unfortunately, the biggest issue facing the United States and the world today is not being talked about nearly enough. That issue is climate change. This is something much bigger and more terrifying than the rest. We’re talking about the eminent destruction of the only planet we can call home if human practices and activities are allowed to continue as they currently are.

The fossil fuel industry has created a business model that relies on the exploitation of the planet and its people. Human life and fossil fuels cannot coincide; we’re reaching a point when we can’t have both. The world is facing extreme changes that will be felt in every continent, every country, every city, everywhere.

The United States is seen as a world leader, and as a leader, it is our duty to step up and take a stand against the world’s dirtiest industry. During this election cycle, it is extremely important to push candidates on their climate plan, not just their energy plan. The voters need to hear what candidates plan on actually doing when it comes to this global crisis.

On a nice Friday morning, four of us drove up to Manchester where we were planning on attending a John Kasich business event. Questions in our hands and determination on our faces, we were ready to take action.

The event was very small, especially for a political event. This is the kind of opportunity we have in New Hampshire. Along with the first primary comes the privilege to get very close and personal with candidates and actually ask questions. Kasich spoke for a while about a few issues, focusing mostly on balancing the federal budget, when he turned it over to question and answer. My hand shot up and because I was so close and we were in such a small room, he saw me almost right away and I was the second person called on. My question went as follows:

“Hello Governor Kasich, I’m a student at the University of New Hampshire and I work on the fossil fuel divestment campaign. My question for you is do you accept the science that says coal, oil, and gas cause climate change, yes or no?”

His response was, in typical politician fashion, rather vague and extremely general, and for us, not good enough. That was when we began the mic check and yelled: “to fight climate change, keep carbon in the ground”. A couple members of the audience became mad, but Kasich almost laughed us off. He commented on how you aren’t really living if you’re a young person and you don’t protest. He then continued by talking about how we need to use all sources of energy including oil, natural gas, clean coal (whatever that is), solar, and wind.

The thing is, whether or not a candidate supports the use of renewables, also allowing the continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels is accepting that the current crisis this planet is facing isn’t that at all. It’s saying that climate change doesn’t matter or isn’t even real. It’s saying that campaign donations from fossil fuel companies are more important than the lives of people everywhere. Denying the severity of this crisis is allowing, if not encouraging, it to continue, and we simply cannot, as a nation and a global leader, have a president who acts in this manner. We must continue to push candidates to act on climate.

Kelsey Lozier is a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire studying Environmental Conservation and Sustainability and Political Science. She cares deeply about the fight for taking action on climate because of the effects it has on people worldwide.