We Have 12 Years!

Last week I spoke on Social Democracy and the policies behind it including the Green New Deal. This week I’ll go in depth on the environmental deal that has been making headlines for the past few months.  

We have under 12 years to completely transition our economy away from fossil fuels to 100% renewable energy in order to prevent the worst effects of climate change. In a recent report from the United Nations, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the U.S. Global Change Research Program scientist have stated that without bold action the U.S. and the world will face major droughts, famine, forest fires, stronger and more intense hurricanes, and other natural disasters. An increase of global temperatures by just over 1.5C would mark the end of coral reefs and cause massive refugee crises.

Climate change has already touched California, Texas, South Carolina, Louisiana, Florida, Puerto Rico, Pennsylvania, and every other state in the Union. Moreover, within the past few days, scientists have stated that man-made climate change has reached the “gold standard” which means there is a 0.3% of climate change not being caused by human activity. Pennsylvania is already facing warmer summers and an increase in flash flooding. These effects will only increase in the future with lower corn yields due to drier summers and more insects. We simply cannot afford to wait any longer.

As early as 1977 ExxonMobil knew of the dangerous effects of climate change but put profit over the public good and decided to cover it up. This was discovered in a recent investigation which showed that Exxon spent millions in research to study climate change and build models. Exxon had scientists on record saying “In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels.” James Black would also state “Present thinking holds that man has a time window of five to 10 years before the need for hard decisions regarding changes in energy strategies might become critical.”

This was over 40 years ago and since the election of Donald Trump in 2016 and nomination of Scott Pruitt EPA regulations and other climate protections were decreased or eliminated. The fossil fuel has an enormous influence on our political system and still receives millions of dollars in subsidies. We simply cannot rely on the free market or small government programs to prevent the worst effects of climate change. The captains of industry and our government leaders have failed us.          

However, Sunrise a movement lead by young people decided to stand up and fight back. Sunrise was founded in April 2017 and has since been hard at work getting politicians to refuse fossil fuel contributions or face losing their next election. In November 2018, Sunrise helped elect serval politicians who ran on the Green New Deal and refusing fossil fuel money. They included Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib. Later that month Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez along with Sunrise and Justice Democrats introduced a resolution to create a select committee to create a Green New Deal. Sunrise rallied Nancy Pelosi, the newly elected Speaker of the House, to support the Green New Deal and show bold leadership in regards to the climate crisis.

The Green New Deal is akin to the New Deal which helped millions of Americans during the Great Depression. It is a bold resolution that will aim to transition our economy to net zero pollution by creating millions of good paying green jobs. The first part of the plan involves a jobs guarantee that will put fossil fuel workers and those seeking employment to work by upgrading infrastructure. It will involve building smart grids, upgrading current structures to reduce energy usage, and installing solar and wind farms across the country. Additionally, jobs will be created by strengthening communities that are susceptible to climate disasters by building sea walls and other protections.

Furthermore, the Green New Deal (G.N.D.) will work to increase green transportation such as electric cars and high-speed trains. It is important to note that the G.N.D. will not ban internal combustion engines or airplanes, but seek to provide better alternatives. The G.N.D. will also implement carbon capture and sequestration that will draw carbon out of the air and inject it into the ground. This will greatly reduce the amount of carbon in our air and help reduce the Green House effect.   

Moreover, the G.N.D. will provide worker protections, stronger unions, and access to good healthcare and benefits. It will respect the rights of Native Americans and end the practice of taking land by eminent domain for pipelines that will increase the effects of climate change. Lastly, the G.N.D. will make the U.S. a major exporter green technology to other countries.

Since the introduction of the G.N.D, there have been 89 co-sponsors in the House and 11 in the Senate. The Green New Deal resolution is working to build a framework to prevent the dangerous effects of climate change. There can be a debate about the specifics on preventing climate change, but there is no denial that we need to take bold action. A few weeks ago, the Senate voted to block the Green New Deal. Climate change does not make concessions and there can be no compromising when it comes to the future of our planet. The cost of the Green New Deal is insignificant compared to the cost of ignoring the effects of climate change. We need to take bold action and demand our representatives to co-sponsor the Green New Deal. We must force the House of Representatives to come up for a plan to take on climate change by 2020 for the presidential election and implement it immediately or face dire consequences.