A Green New Deal

Moving to clean, renewable energy as rapidly as possible is the most important thing we can do to avoid a catastrophic future and the possible extinction of the human race. A “Green New Deal” would provide a proper response to the threat posed by the climate crisis by having the federal government, follow the example of President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” jobs programs, and put millions of people to work on clean-energy jobs as part of projects designed to update and modernize our infrastructure.

Legislation that has been introduced in Congress:

The “Off Fossil Fuels for a Better Future Act [H. R. 3671] and the “100 by ’50 Act” [S.987].

Major party platforms on this issue:

From the Democratic Party platform:

• “Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures, and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.”
• “We are committed to a national mobilization, and to leading a global effort to mobilize nations to address this threat (climate change) on a scale not seen since World War II.”
• “We will not only meet the goals we set in Paris, we will seek to exceed them and push other countries to do the same by slashing carbon pollution and rapidly driving down emissions of greenhouse gases like hydrofluorocarbons.”
• “We cannot leave our children a planet that has been profoundly damaged.”
• “We believe America must be running entirely on clean energy by mid-century.”

From the Republican Party platform:

• “Climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue. This is the triumph of extremism over common sense, and Congress must stop it.”
• “(The Democrats) approach is based on shoddy science, scare tactics, and centralized command-and-control legislation.”

Saving humanity from a catastrophic future and possible extinction should not be a partisan issue, but the Republican Party has made this a partisan issue.

Based on what the party platforms have to say about this issue, it is not surprising that the bills included in The People’s Platform were introduced by Democratic members of Congress and all of the cosponsors are Democrats. There are no Republican cosponsors for either bill.

Polling on this issue:

A “Green New Deal” was supported by 70% of likely voters surveyed. That included 89% of Democratic voters, with 3% opposed, and 6% neutral; 66% of independent voters, with 25% opposed, and 9% neutral; and 50% of Republican voters, with 36% opposed, and 13% neutral. (From a poll by GBA Strategies.)

An infrastructure jobs program, funded at $400 billion per year, was supported by 71% of likely voters surveyed. That included 91% of Democratic voters, with 4% opposed, and 5% neutral; 61% of independent voters, with 28% opposed, and 10% neutral; and 55% of Republican voters, with 28% opposed, and 16% neutral. (From a poll by GBA Strategies.)

Rationale

The “New Deal” jobs programs of President Franklin Roosevelt proved the effectiveness of socially useful public sector jobs in reducing unemployment during The Great Depression. Moving to renewable energy will make providing socially useful work as part of a federal job guarantee relatively easy for the foreseeable future.

It’s time to heed the warnings of the scientific community and respond appropriately to the climate crisis.

Discussion related to the climate crisis has been dominated by a pointless debate about whether climate change is happening and whether human activity is contributing to the global warming that has led to changes in Earth’s climate. There has never been a debate within the scientific community. Climate scientists have been busy deepening their understanding of the factors contributing to global warming, making predictions regarding how Earth’s climate is changing, and advising us about what we can do to minimize the consequences of the catastrophic changes that are already nearly certain to take place over the remaining decades of the 21st century.

We must stop burning coal and oil and move to clean, renewable energy; move to electric cars and mass transit; improve energy efficiency to reduce demand for electricity; plant trees; and reduce meat consumption (so that we are not growing so many animals for food).

If we fail to respond appropriately, significant increases in global temperatures will lead to disastrous and potentially catastrophic consequences, most of which are familiar to most of us at this point. The most significant consequence is less well known – widespread exceptional droughts that will drastically reduce food production and lead to widespread starvation, which in turn, will lead to conflict within and between nations that will ultimately threaten the very fabric of civilization itself.

The most troubling aspect of our failure to heed the warnings of the scientific community is that taking their advice will lead to job growth on a scale that could make true full employment a reality and and give us cleaner air to breathe right now, with immediate benefit in terms of fewer health problems related to polluted air.