These days we’re hearing more and more about the Green New Deal and rightfully so. Given the devastating wildfires along the west coast, which only seem to grow in number and intensity each year in proportion to rising global temperatures, we think that a Green New Deal sounds great right about now.
But what exactly is it? What does it entail and is it practical? We did a little research and were able to iron out some nuts and bolts, say, for your added consideration when casting your vote this year. So let’s take a look.
The Green New Deal is a congressional resolution, essentially the most comprehensive plan for mitigating climate change and reducing income inequality put to paper by our government so far.
You can read the official document here.
It was drafted last year by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Sen. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, both Democrats, and it takes its name from the New Deal of the 1930s, a series of programs and regulations enacted by President Roosevelt as a means to help the United States recover from the Great Depression.
It emphasizes that climate change and income inequality are inextricably linked, and that the proposals would cultivate a cleaner environment and create new jobs.
These proposals include a sweeping national mobilization effort that would be implemented over a ten-year period, one that includes sourcing 100 percent of our power demand from renewable energy and zero-emission resources (e.g. wind, water, solar).
It calls for the overhaul of our transportation system to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as possible–by investing in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing, in affordable and accessible public transit, and in a high-speed rail system.
Additionally, the resolution says it’s the duty of the federal government to provide job training for new workers, particularly those families and communities who currently rely on their jobs in fossil fuels.
But is it feasible? Can it actually work? That’s where things seem to get a little tricky.
Almost 80 percent of America’s power still comes from fossil fuels, a resource that is relatively cheap and plentiful. Another problem is that the cost of these new initiatives would indeed be expensive, though supporters argue that it’s a cost that would pay for itself in the long run.
Additionally, as Republicans are equally quick to point out, the Green New Deal would involve a greater government presence in many facets of public life to adequately implement the standards necessary for curbing our greenhouse gas emissions. In short, it would go against the common instincts and virtues intimately linked with modern American industry, namely less federal regulation and more privatization.
Now to that point, one might hope that a global pandemic might shift the collective consciousness enough to translate into policy that actually reflects the popular sentiment that we’re all in this together. After all, when it comes to climate change, that sentiment has never been so true.
The logistical obstacles most often mentioned are the costs and the ten-year timeline. While the cost of reaching the goals outlined in the resolution would amount in the trillions, the cost of continued inaction would almost certainly amount to trillions more.
While technological experts agree that ten years might be too short a time to achieve the zero-carbon infrastructure outlined, they do agree that 20-25 years is more viable if we get to work now.
Something is better than nothing. While the logistical dilemmas might be valid, specifically whether ten years is too short a time, the simple truth is that we need to try.
Every time we hear about the threat of climate change–a threat, by the way, that is already here–we naturally begin talking about solutions. And the solution is basically the same every time, involving each of us making individual sacrifices for a greater more common good. The Green New Deal is essentially that very realization put to paper and hopefully, ultimately national policy.
If the fundamental ideas of the Green New Deal seem far-fetched, then it says an awful lot more about us then it does about the ideas themselves. To throw up our hands and say it’s all a fantasy is to say that we’re incapable of working together to promote the general welfare.
Of course any such notion is nonsense, and a person only needs to look at history to understand why.
It’s very appropriate that the resolution borrows its name from the New Deal of the Depression. Then as now, Americans were facing a cataclysmic event that had upended public life for several years, not to mention the looming threat of a second world war. It begs the question of just how catastrophic things need to get here and now before ordinary people across this land recognize a similar sense of investment in one another.
Despite the logistical issues this new new deal, it’s still the most tangible form of action we have yet realized in addressing climate change through legislation.
If we cannot succeed in every aspect of it, we might succeed with some if not most of it–and some is most certainly better than none.
It’s a blueprint, at the very least, a guideline we can follow in the years to come for enacting policy that would provide for a more sustainable environment and equitable society. Of course that’s no small thing, and we personally put more trust in those who see its value versus those who outrightly dismiss it.