The Green New Deal

Green New Deal Blog.jpg

Have you heard much about the Green New Deal?

I think it's the most exciting and meaningful thing I've ever heard of in my entire life and I'm going to start talking about it, and climate change, a lot more with my friends and my family and the public. 

The world's scientists are telling us that 10 years from now the Earth is going to be an uglier, scarier, dirtier, more dangerous place, with less biodiversity and more death and destruction. And it will be getting worse. And every single one of us will be looking back and feeling like idiots for not doing more and not doing it sooner. Those of us with children are going to feel particularly stupid and guilty. Just imagine what it will be like when they understand how badly we dropped the ball.

We are all privileged Americans with real power and a responsibility to do something about this problem, and start doing it now.

I want you to get fired up about the Green New Deal. I want you to support it and promote it. I want you to own it. In order to do so, you don't have to think it's perfect, you just have to believe two important things:

  1. We urgently need to do something BIG to stop climate change

  2. We need to do something BIG to save the American middle class and prevent inequality from increasing

If you believe those two things, then you need to get behind the GND. We can't wait for the next solution to come along. This is it. The time is NOW. 

Transforming our economy so that it doesn't emit carbon and treats people a little more fairly and humanely is going to be a huge undertaking, but fundamentally it is a problem of political will. We simply need to convince our fellow Americans that this is in their best interest (and in the best interest of ALL LIFE ON EARTH!).

Below I'm including some more information on the Green New Deal: what it is, why it’s important, and my responses to common concerns and objections. In the next few weeks I hope to add more content here to promote the GND.

If you want to support the GND, please consider doing the following:

Call your Members of Congress and ask them to please support the Green New Deal. Tell them it’s very important to you and your family.

Join the Sunrise Movement. Donate to them. Sign their petition.

Talk about climate change and the Green New Deal with your family and friends. Build support. See if you can get more people excited about the Green New Deal, people who are also willing to call Congress and sign the petition.

Together, we can do this!

What is the Green New Deal (GND)?

The GND is a non-binding resolution that is gaining momentum in Congress, declaring an intent to pursue two primary goals:

  1. Transform the US economy as quickly as possible from one that emits carbon to one that does not.

  2. Provide a good green job, with a living wage and health care for any American that wants to work to fight climate change.

Why is the GND important?

We are poisoning our planet with carbon. The world's climate scientists recently released a report stating that climate change is actually worse than we thought and that if we don't make drastic changes to society in the next ten years we will all suffer some terrible and irreparable consequences. Ten years is not a lot of time and our attempts at incremental action on the issue have so far proven woefully inadequate.

At the same time, the middle class in America is disappearing. It is getting harder and harder for people to secure a good job that provides a living wage and health insurance. 

We need a plan that is BIG enough to fix these problems, and BIG enough to get people excited about fixing these problems.

How does the GND plan to achieve the primary goals?

When it comes to cutting emissions, the GND lists a lot of specific steps that will probably need to happen, but it does not specify exactly how those steps will be taken, in large part because we don't know yet, we have to figure it out. 

When it comes to providing good jobs, the GND does not specify exactly how this will be achieved, but it does commit to making the process as fair as possible so no Americans are left behind, especially the people most affected by climate change and the people who have been left behind during past government jobs and assistance programs.

Who is promoting the GND?

This is not a new idea. The term Green New Deal was first coined over ten years ago, and Obama was very interested in the idea. In 2016 it was a part of Bernie Sander's platform. 

The current swell of enthusiasm for this idea is the work of a group of youth climate activists, called The Sunrise Movement, working with freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, riding the momentum of the 2018 midterm elections, where the Democrats took back control of the US House of Representatives.

Recent polls have shown wide-spread support for the core ideas from a wide range of Americans. One poll found support from 92% of Democrats and 64% of Republicans!

When will the GND be passed?

Maybe never. It's a big, bold idea, and a major departure from the status quo. There are a lot of powerful people who will fight hard to stop it, and curre,ntly it is only supported by a minority of Congress. 

On February 7, 2019 Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey introduced the Green New Deal resolution with another 71 congressional cosponsors, included many Democratic presidential candidates!

Senate Republicans want to put it up for a vote, because they think they will be able to use it as a political weapon against Democrats. 

But they're wrong. The Green New Deal is on the right side of history, and it's our job to make sure our politicians endorse it, and that they don't come to regret it.

If you want to save the world, please tell your Senators and Representatives that climate change is the most important issue facing America and that the Green New Deal is good and critical for America's future. 

And then you please tell your friends and family to do the same thing. And then tell me about it, because I'd love to hear about it!

UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot,

nothing is going to get better,

It's not.

If you're skeptical about the Green New Deal and not sure you want to support it, please keep reading. Below I've addressed the most obvious concerns and include links to some good articles. If, after all that, you're still skeptical, please let me know, I'd love to know why.

Let's do this!

Good GND Reads

Full Text of the Congressional Resolution

Vox – The Green New Deal, Explained

Vox – GND Intro Video

The Sunrise Movement Donate

NYTimes Opinion – The Green New Deal Is Better Than Our Climate Nightmare

FiveThirtyEight – Is The ‘Green New Deal’ Smart Politics For Democrats?

Common Objections to the Green New Deal

The Green New Deal is...

...not perfect. 

It's true, the GND is not perfect. But the threat of climate change is very real, we're already locked in for a tragic amount of future suffering, and the US has only moved backward in the past few years. We need to do something, it has to be bold, and we can't sit around waiting for the perfect plan. Every day we delay makes the job harder and makes our future lives less pleasant. 

And to be honest, the GND is hardly even a "plan". It's a non-binding declaration that we should, literally and scientifically speaking, "Save the planet before it's too late". How can you not sign on to that? How can you not own that and celebrate and promote that? What are you waiting for? This is the only climate change idea that has rallied any enthusiasm in America in the last half a decade, if you pass on this one, when do you think the next one is going o come along? And who's to say that one will be any more to your liking? 

Look, I believe sincerely in the importance of skepticism. I like to look at things and poke holes in them and crittique them as much as anybody. But when it comes to saving the world, if you don't like this plan, you better come up with a better one and then build a political movement around it VERY QUICKLY because every day the problem gets worse.

...too vague

It's true, the GND is vague on a lot of points. It doesn't claim to have all of the answers. I believe that is a good thing. At this point, it's just trying to build a coalition of people that are excited. If momentum builds for this non-binding resolution, future versions will have to get more detailed. As details are added and specifics are worked out, it will almost certainly get harder to keep a broad coalition together. Especially when details start to emerge about how we might pay (or not pay) for this enormous project. But first, we have to rally as many people as possible around the core concept of prioritizing the health of our planet and the American people.

...too expensive.

Yes, the Green New Deal is expensive. But so was going to the moon and inventing the atomic bomb and the internet. So was fighting the Nazis. When civilization is on the line, does it really matter how much it "costs"?

Whatever it costs, it will pay for itself in the future. Every dollar we spend fighting climate change will have an unbeatable ROI. We're not building a wall or a battleship that's going to fall apart over time. It's not a "cost" it's an investment. An investment in America, in our technology, our infrastructure, and most of all, our people. 

Eventually, the world economy will have to switch to clean technology, we can't keep burning coal and oil forever. The countries that develop those clean technologies will earn a colossal amount of geopolitical power AND goodwill.

As Americans, the people who make "US Dollars" we have a pretty special opportunity. We can print more money if we want to. Especially if the dollars we spend create economic value. And when we put money in the hands of working people, they spend it. It circulates and re-circulates through the economy, supporting shops and restaurants and local businesses. It certainly does a lot more to stimulate the economy than tax cuts for the wealthy.

Furthermore, there are a number of very good and worthwhile taxes that could help pay for this: A carbon tax is the most obvious, a higher maximum income tax for the wealthy, inheritance or wealth tax, a tiny transaction tax on stock trades. 

Finally, climate change is going to cost us a whole lot more if we don't do anything about it. The economic costs of a world that is 2 or 3 degrees Celsius will be measured in the trillions, and the price tag will keep climbing until we fix the problem. We'll pay the price in lost economic activity, destroyed property, and human suffering and death. Some of these expenses will be predictable, like the land lost to rising seas. But much of it will be impossible to predict and cause all the more suffering as a result. 

...too ambitious/unrealistic

Yes, the Green New Deal is ambitious, and yes, unrealistic in the current political climate. But the whole point of the Green New Deal is changing the political climate as quickly as possible to one where the Green New Deal becomes realistic.

Scientists and Democrats have been asking for incremental changes for decades and had limited success. Incrementalism could work if we had the time. We don't have the time. Rationally speaking, now is the time to panic!

Obviously, no radical political idea like this one will pass the US Congress in the next few years, but we need to push the conversation as far as possible as quickly as possible if we're going to mitigate the increasingly inevitable climate catastrophe. 

...too Democratic/liberal/socialist

The climate change goals shouldn't be a liberal/conservative issue. It's a matter of science. 
Scientists are saying that changes are coming to our climate. And with those changes, we are guaranteed to see more conflict. Between storms and fires and droughts and heatwaves and floods, millions of people are going to die and millions more will be forced from their homes. When people's islands sink into the ocean and their crops fail, those people are going to go looking for somewhere to live, and some of them are going to try to come here. 

It's going to be quite a nightmare for any Americans concerned about national security and our borders. 

At that point, it will really will take an army to defend our borders and keep illegal immigrants out of America.

Wouldn't it be far better, far more effective and far more humane to raise an army now, to mitigate the damage of climate change so that the world of 2030 has fewer refugees and conflict.

That army is the Green New Deal. 

If you think the GND is too liberal, I'll assume you dislike the idea of increasing the size of the federal government because you think all government is inefficient, corrupt, or inept. But the Armed Forces is a giant federal government jobs-and-training program. 

Do you respect the Armed Forces? Do you think the Army is inefficient, corrupt, or inept?

There's also the matter of national security by way of the economy. America needs energy to function and, if it comes to it, to fight. So long as our economy depends on foreign sources of energy, we remain more vulnerable. If we can generate energy sustainably in America, we would have a significant geopolitical advantage over our international rivals.

We would be putting America First and we would Make America Great Again.

We're not going to win the 21st century with more coal. We're going to win the 21st century with an Army of Americans working on inventing, building and perfecting the clean energy technology of the future.

...going to help Trump win re-election

I agree that beating Trump in 2020 is an important goal for anyone who cares about the planet, but I think that Trump won because he got people excited. If Democrats can get people excited I think we'll win. 

"Build the Wall" & "Lock Her Up" worked for Trump, I think "Green New Deal" and "Save the Planet" and "Good Green Jobs" might work for us.

Better to tackle climate change alone without any sort of public works or federal jobs programs

First of all, do you like both ideas? If you like the idea of prioritizing the climate and you like the idea of a federal jobs program, but you don't like it from a strategic standpoint because you're worried it will turn some people off, I say to you, 

Get over it! 

If this is what you believe in, then NOW is the time to FIGHT for it with all you've got. If you believe the whole planet is in peril, (which is what SCIENCE tells us) then you have to take action now, and if you want to think about how to be more strategic, while you're taking action, that's great. But sitting back and thinking, that's not how I would do it, while you are otherwise inactive? That's not going to cut it.

There's no way that we can adequately address climate change without transforming the US Economy. This is a once-in-a-lifetime transformation and if we don't make sure that it's going to benefit a large number of Americans, then there are a large number of Americans who will not be motivated to support it.

I don't like the federal job guarantee

The middle class in America is dying. It's harder and harder to get a good, secure, job with a living wage and basic medical insurance. To get a good job, you have to pay for an education that gets more expensive every day, which means going into debt before you even get started in life.

Yes, a federal jobs guarantee is going to be a logistical nightmare to figure out. But we are capable of organizing and mobilizing on a grand scale. Think of the Army. The army also takes in regular Americans with a variety of skills and backgrounds who are willing to work hard and it trains them all until they become very effective at what they do.

But this would be an army that's spread throughout the American countryside. All across America, there would be people making good money. And what do people do with money? They spend it. So it would be a huge infusion for all the shops and restaurants out there. Towns in rural America will have a shot at revitalization, as people working on our energy infrastructure spend their Green New Deal dollars. 

Shouldn't any American who is willing to work hard be able to secure $15/hr and basic medical care? There was a time when the private sector provided these opportunities but that's clearly no longer the case.

I don't have time to save the planet

I know a lot of people are busy and have more pressing concerns. But you don't have to spend a lot of time to make a real difference. This is a problem of political will so there a handful of things you can do to save the planet without investing too much time. 1) Call your Member of Congress and tell them that you vote on one issue, the climate, and you want them to support the Green New Deal. 2) Vote. 3) Tell other people to do the same. You needn't tell everyone, just a few close friends or family. 

There, you did your part, thank you!

Climate change isn't that urgent

Maybe not. Climate science is very complicated so it is hard to know exactly how urgent the situation is. But almost all climate scientists agree that it's going to be very bad and that it is very urgent. There's certainly a range of outcomes since we're headed into unprecedented territory, but the legitimate scientists agree that they are all bad.

Climate change isn't a problem at all. It's a conspiracy

I'm pretty sure that if you believed that, you wouldn't be reading this, but I'll give it a go anywas.

Yes, there are people out there, including some scientists who will tell you that climate change is not real. They might even tell you that climate change is a conspiracy orchestrated by Democrats to expand government power and take away your freedoms.

I think there are some obvious reasons why people might say that. The first is money. There are a lot of people with a lot of power making a lot of money from the way the economy is set up now. Those people have a major financial interest in disputing the reality and severity of climate change by spreading lies and misinformation, and those people are certainly bankrolling some of these climate skeptics.

Another reason some people might doubt climate change and think it's a conspiracy is that they are a Republican and they think Democrats are bad and anything a Democrat says is a lie.

Even if climate change is a conspiracy and thousands of scientists and government employees are secretly working together to fake a crisis, you still have to admit that clean, renewable energy is the way of the future, and that smokestacks and pit mines and industrial waste is not pleasant in your backyard? And wouldn't you admit that it would be nice to know that if you needed it, you could get a job working $15/hr and get health insurance?

Maybe not such a bad conspiracy after all... ;-)

The proponents of the GND are hypocrites because they drive cars and ride in planes

Personal consumption decisions are not going to save the planet. We need society-wide political solutions. Sure, every little bit helps and I applaud anyone who trades in their car for a bike or eats vegan or keeps their thermostat at 60 in the winter, but we need to build a broad coalition and we can't afford to shun anyone who fails to live up to our standards of what a green lifestyle looks like. 

It's far more important that we change the rules by which our society functions, so there is no option but to live a sustainable lifestyle. If people are willing to fight for that, I believe that's the most important thing.

I don't want anyone to take away my car/air travel/beef/AC...

The GND doesn't say that we need to eliminate anything except net carbon emissions. The GND doesn't have to eliminate the parts of our economy that emit carbon, but it does need to find a way to offset those emissions. Yes, cars and cows and air travel and lots of other things currently emit carbon, so we will need to figure out how these things can exist in a sustainable society, but we don't necessarily need to eliminate them. 

A big part of that is going to be pricing them fairly. Currently, things that emit carbon are cheaper than they should be because we don't factor in the cost of the carbon. If we start to include the effect of climate change in the price of goods and services that emit carbon, they will cost more, and people will consume them less, but that's only fair.

The cheap gasoline and beef we are consuming today is destroying the planet. If we want to eat meat and burn fossil fuels we should all pay their true cost.

Posted on March 7, 2019 .