What Green New Deal?

Popular Economics Weekly


The Green New Deal resolution introduced in the House by Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) as H. RES.____ is really the vision of what a fully-realized United States of America could look like, if its social and economic ills were remedied. But it will take at least a generation to accomplish what Markey and Ocasio-Cortez propose, and a majority of Americans say they support, in the best of circumstances.

That’s because much of the current voting public is older folk suspicious of change; and doubtful the dire predictions on climate change are true. So it will take the Octavio-Cortez’s in generations coming of age that want a better future for themselves than is currently the case.

Markey and Ocasio-Cortez want to change more than environmental laws and regulations in order to eliminate greenhouse gases. They want to make democracy work for everyone in H. RES.____:

“…to promote justice and equity by stopping current, preventing future, and repairing historic oppression of indigenous peoples, communities of color, migrant communities, deindustrialized communities, depopulated rural communities, the poor, low-income workers, women, the elderly, the unhoused, people with disabilities, and youth (referred to in this resolution as ‘‘frontline and vulnerable communities’’).

Much of the business community will also be alarmed by the reversals in pro-corporate policies implemented since the Reagan era that tilted the economic playing field towards Big Business by allowing near-monopolies in many business sectors and weakening labor laws.

The Green New Deal wants to strengthen labor laws by “(G) ensuring that the Green New Deal mobilization creates high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages, hires local workers, offers training and advancement opportunities, and guarantees wage and benefit parity for workers affected by the transition.”

First, let’s understand where the phrase “Green New Deal” comes from. NYTimes’ Thomas Friedman declared in a 2017 Op-ed that a Rooseveltian, big government New Deal was needed to revive the American economy from its doldrums since the Great Recession, and save Earth from the dire effects of climate change that even the U.S. Pentagon predicts could be catastrophic for world peace.

Friedman summarized its goals as: 1. Zero-net energy buildings: buildings that can produce as much energy as they consume. 2. Zero-waste manufacturing: stimulating manufacturers to design and build products that use fewer raw materials and that are easily disassembled and recycled. 3. A zero-carbon grid: If we can combine renewable power generation at a utility scale with some consumers putting up their own solar panels and windmills that are integrated with the grid, and with large-scale storage batteries, we really could, one day, electrify everything carbon-free. 4. Zero-emissions transportation: a result of combining electric vehicles and electric public transportation with a zero-carbon grid.

The Green New Deal uses Friedman’s suggestions as a blueprint. Their resolution says:

“The October 2018 report entitled ‘‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 of Celsius’’ by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment report found that among other things—a changing climate is causing sea levels to rise and an increase in wildfires, severe storms, droughts, and other extreme weather events that threaten human life, healthy communities, and critical infrastructure”

Furthermore, “…global warming at or above 2 degrees Celsius beyond preindustrialized levels will cause— (A) mass migration from the regions most affected by climate change; (B) more than $500,000,000,000 in lost annual economic output in the United States by the year 2100; (C) wildfires that, by 2050, will annually burn at least twice as much forest area in the western United States than was typically burned by wildfires in the years preceding 2019.”

The U.S. Pentagon first raised similar alarms on global warming in a 2015 report to the Senate Appropriations Committee, because of the possibility of global conflicts caused by the struggle for depleted resources.

Climate change ‘should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern’, wrote the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of n-planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.

“The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents,” according to the Observer and Guardian newspapers that first broke the story.

The question should be how to achieve those goals, not whether it is desirable. The first step must be to eliminate our reliance on non-renewable, carbon-based fossil fuels that is endangering national and international security, as our planet warms while becoming ever more overcrowded.

The Green New Deal resolves to revive our democracy so that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from it.

Harlan Green © 2019

Follow Harlan Green on Twitter: https://twitter.com/HarlanGreen

About populareconomicsblog

Harlan Green is editor/publisher of PopularEconomics.com, and content provider of 3 weekly columns to various blogs--Popular Economics Weekly and The Huffington Post
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