09/21/2014 05:00 am ET

Days of Action: Why We Vote

Something's happening here.

Across the globe, millions of people have come together to send a unified message to our leaders: Climate change is real, and every nation must step up and take action -- before it's too late. Today in New York City, as President Obama prepares to join more than 120 other world leaders for an historic summit on climate, thousands of Americans are taking to the street to urge action on climate change.

And I am proud to be among them.

The dialogue around climate change can often become mired in gloom and doom, which is understandable given the topic. With communities across the country already feeling the impacts -- from historic droughts impacting crops, to rising sea levels threatening communities, to extreme weather or tainted drinking water -- people can get down.

But here's the good news: The political conversation on climate change is shifting in real time, and our leaders are taking notice. This shift is happening for a simple reason: Climate change is no longer an abstract issue. Because Americans can feel the effects in their communities every day, they're coming together to make a change.

The events of Climate Week are only the beginning. This November, Americans everywhere will have a chance to participate in another historic day of action: Election Day. On November 4th, I will join millions of Americans to cast my ballot and make my voice heard, because I believe that together, our voices can make the difference.

This election day, we may not be electing a president, but we are facing a critical choice: Will we, as a nation, move forward into a clean energy future -- or lock ourselves and future generations into decades of sea-level rise, catastrophic storms, and poisoned air and water?

Voting is our right, but it is also our responsibility. Because if we don't take the next step and elect leaders who are committed to building a better future for our kids, other rights -- our rights to clean air, clean water, health and prosperity -- are placed directly in harm's way.

Across the country, we're seeing candidates realize that they have to embrace a clean energy future if they want to win at the polls this November -- but mere lip service to these issues won't be enough.

Thousands of us are coming together to walk for climate action. Our next step will be to the ballot box. This is our moment. This is our election. We are raising our voices, and -- more importantly -- we are casting our votes to help forge a path that is right for our country and worthy of our kids.

This November 4th, take #TheNextStep and vote for action on climate change.

This blog post is part of the #WhyICare blog series, curated by the editors of HuffPost Generation Change in recognition of the People's Climate March in New York City on September 21, 2014. To see all the other posts in the series, click here.

Join the conversation on Twitter and tell us why you care about the climate crisis with the hashtags #WhyICare and #PCM. For more information about the People's Climate March, click here.