ILULISSAT, GREENLAND - JULY 20:  An iceberg floats through the water on July 20, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As Greenlanders adapt to the changing climate and go on with their lives, researchers from the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and its long-term ramifications for the rest of the world. In recent years, sea level rise in places such as Miami Beach has led to increased street flooding and prompted leaders such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to propose a $19.5 billion plan to boost the citys capacity to withstand future extreme weather events by, among other things, devising mechanisms to withstand flooding.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Joe Raedle/Getty Images Europe/Getty Images
ILULISSAT, GREENLAND - JULY 20: An iceberg floats through the water on July 20, 2013 in Ilulissat, Greenland. As Greenlanders adapt to the changing climate and go on with their lives, researchers from the National Science Foundation and other organizations are studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and its long-term ramifications for the rest of the world. In recent years, sea level rise in places such as Miami Beach has led to increased street flooding and prompted leaders such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to propose a $19.5 billion plan to boost the citys capacity to withstand future extreme weather events by, among other things, devising mechanisms to withstand flooding. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images) (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
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Editor’s Note: Jay Inslee is a Democrat and the governor of Washington. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN) —  

While Donald Trump is blowing smoke on climate change, we here in the West have been choking on it this summer. And if we don’t start electing people – from city council to governor – who are willing to confront climate change, we’re all going to pay dearly.

Jay Inslee
PHOTO: Courtesy of the office of Gov. Jay Inslee
Jay Inslee

In Washington state we know this from our own gasping experience. For two weeks in August, the skies were shrouded in the darkest smoke in recent memory, as record-breaking fires tore through the Western states – destroying communities and forcing widespread evacuations. A thick, acrid and dangerous pall from hundreds of fires filled the lungs of citizens trying to go about their lives.

And this month climate change has brought more tragedy and destruction to our country. Hurricane Florence hit North and South Carolina with a combination of wind strength, rainfall and storm surge that is unprecedented — but increasingly expected – for the region.

For millions of Americans, climate change is no longer just a chart or a graph. It’s wildfires. It’s floodwater invading our homes and drought destroying our crops. It’s hurricanes and record-breaking heat waves. It’s an emerging new normal, one that we don’t need to accept as inevitable.

Americans, we must start voting on climate change. We can in just a few weeks, in voter initiatives and in elections for governors and state legislatures throughout the country. That is because states can lead the fight against the serious dangers posed by global warming, building a safer future full of new and greater economic opportunities, powered by fast-growing clean energy solutions like wind and solar energy, and electric vehicles. It’s happening everywhere already.

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