The Green New Deal
The recent polar vortex has been such as drag—likely on your social plans, energy levels, and the economy. Yes, it’s true. But don’t fret, as The Green New Deal emerged, in writing, today. While it will likely not pass in the Republican-led senate, this proposed legislation lays out a vague guideline of how the US would be carbon neutral by 2030. While this goal is wildly ambitious, it is necessary. Based on the Special Report on Global Warming of 1 ° C by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the Fourth National Climate Assessment Report, the Green New Deal delineates that the US needs to accept responsibility for climate change. It highlights how the US alone is responsible for over 20% of global greenhouse gas emissions through 2014. It also portrays how the country could bring about sustainable change, all while investing in its own economy and citizens simultaneously.
Global temperatures must be kept 1.5 ° Celsius above pre-industrialized levels to avoid the most severe impacts of a changing climate. The deal cites detrimental effects ranging from mass migrations, more than five hundred billion dollars lost in economic output, wildfires scorching twice as much forest as current levels, three hundred fifty million people succumbing to deadly heat stress, and a possible trillion dollars in public infrastructure and coastal real estate damage. The Green New Deal clearly isn’t here to pander to special interest groups.
The pending legislation delves into particularly troubling data outlining our current crises of stagnating hourly wages, poor socio-economic mobility, the gender pay gap, and vast inequality. It hinges upon the creation of “millions of good, high-wage jobs,” which feels reminiscent of Roosevelt’s New Deal…which can’t be just a happy coincidence.
It highlights the construction and upgrading of buildings to maximal energy efficiency, expanding upon clean, renewable energy, initiating infrastructure repairs, all further emphasizing resiliency against climate change-related disasters.
A common counterargument for championing the environment is the economy. However, according to a scientist at the Center for Atmospheric Research, the economic costs of climate change are staggering, and we are already paying the cost. As the climate changes, our weather becomes more intense, and more expensive. This is due, in part, to human migration, like when an influx of people move to densely populated cities on the coast.
The most expensive environmental effect are hurricanes. Over the past twenty years, seventeen out of twenty of our most expensive and damaging hurricanes occurred, most of which ended up costing seventy billion– one hundred twenty-five billion dollars, each. Heatwaves and droughts came in second, but win first for the deadliest climate change effect. Survivors from the Paradise Wildfire are still recovering—many are homeless and camping out on their property, waiting for federal money. Floods have increased by over seventy percent over the past seventy years. Convective storms that bring additional environmental hazards, such as tornadoes, cost eleven billion dollars in damages every year. Cold weather bears a different economic cost in business disruption. Unless you were some of the few who braved last week’s negative double-digit weather, most people hunkered down in their residences. They were not out shopping and stimulating the economy. The most recent polar vortex cost the American economy five billion dollars.
Convinced yet? It’s time we invested in ourselves, in our futures, and in our children’s futures. 2050 is a little over 20 years away—where the existence of vibrant coral reefs will be a distant memory, and David Attenborough will die as a failure (unless you go watch Blue Planet II right now).
This plan is an excellent start. Demand more from your lawmakers, demand that they support positive environmental legislation. Alaska is deciding if they should open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for drilling, even while citing legitimate environmental effects on wildlife and for indigenous tribes. Will you be able to look back at yourself in twenty years and feel satisfied with yourself, knowing that you did everything you could? Call or email your senators today, and urge them to support the Green New Deal. Or keep sitting, scrolling on your phone. It’s your call.