Right! What's All This 'Green New Deal,' Then?
When January arrives and a new Congress is sworn in, get ready to hear a whole hell of a lot about the "Green new Deal," a proposal spearheaded by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and endorsed by likely Speaker Nancy Pelosi. What the hell is it? At the moment, it's a proposal for a proposal: combine job growth and tackling climate change with the modest goals of nothing less than eliminating poverty AND transforming the US energy economy to 100 percent renewable power generation by 2030. We're talking Moon Shot plus New Deal plus Manhattan Project here, and yes, it's audacious as fuck!
As it happens, it's also not pie in the sky. Difficult, sure, but far from impossible. Its 10-year target falls inside the window necessary to keep at bay the absolute worst effects of projected climate change, as laid out in the UN's most recent report on what needs to be done to keep the planet habitable for large mammals like Jeff Goldblum, Malala Yousafzai, the readers of Wonkette, and yes, even Donald Trump. If he hopes to see 2030, though, he should actually follow his doctor's advice and stop polluting his personal ecosystem with Big Macs. As with climate, some damage can't be undone, but healthier habits are needed right now.
The push for a Green New Deal is timely, given the Trump administration's failed attempt to bury last week's quadrennial National Climate Assessment, which warns we can still keep from completely shitting the planetary bed, but we'll need to do more than simply get twisty lightbulbs. Big action is needed, and the goals of the Green New Deal are pretty fucking big. Prepare to have your minds blown (and then recycled):
1. 100% of national power generation from renewable sources;
2. building a national, energy-efficient, "smart" grid;
3. upgrading every residential and industrial building for state-of-the-art energy efficiency, comfort and safety;
4. decarbonizing the manufacturing, agricultural and other industries;
5. decarbonizing, repairing and improving transportation and other infrastructure;
6. funding massive investment in the drawdown and capture of greenhouse gases;
7. making "green" technology, industry, expertise, products and services a major export of the United States, with the aim of becoming the undisputed international leader in helping other countries transition to completely carbon neutral economies and bringing about a global Green New Deal
How do we get there? Politics, plain and simple (i.e., never simple). The first step would be the establishment of a special committee to start hammering out a plan. Ocasio-Cortez wants the committee to be bipartisan, if any elected Republicans can be found who'll serve on it. She also insists that none of the members receive campaign donations from the fossil fuel industry. Sure, let the carbonheads testify, but we can't trust 'em to make the rules. They've had their two centuries and gotten us in this mess, thanks. They're welcome to offer suggestions for how to make themselves obsolete, though -- as long as it goes beyond showing one of those little ads about making jet fuel from algae.
To get this done, it's going to be spendy, and there's going to be opposition -- like from the corporate greedheads who'll be bloviating about all the coal and oil jobs being lost,. Which is where the "New Deal" part of the equation comes in: There's going to be a hell of a lot of jobs and money to be had in shifting from a dirty economy to a clean one, and backers of the plan will have to play it smart, emphasizing that workers displaced from coal and oil will find jobs in the clean energy sector, too. That's what Hillary Clinton was trying to get at in the speech that, selectively edited and repurposed, got her demonized in West Virginia. Hell, she was talking about opportunity, but all that got shown on TV was the bullshit claim that she wanted miners to lose jobs.
Speaking of economic opportunity: Somebody could make a hell of a lot of money developing recording and playback media that resist the easy deletion of context. Or maybe it's just a matter of smarter framing, as CNN demonstrated yesterday:
But the jobs part of this New Deal idea is every bit as important as the "green" part, and as Salon's Paul Rosenberg points out, it ain't exactly an afterthought:
It's not just that drastic action is needed. The basic idea of a New Green Deal is wildly popular. There was 70 percent support for "Green New Deal — Millions Of Clean-Energy Jobs" in the "Big Ideas" poll commissioned by the Progressive Change Institute in January 2015. This year, Data for Progress advanced its own, more detailed Green New Deal Plan, with polling showing related political appeal: In Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin — key to Trump's 2016 election — voters were more, rather than less, likely to support a candidate "who supports moving the United States to 100 percent renewable energy by 2030" by 32, 27 and 26 points, respectively.
"Green New Deal combines two things voters love: the environment and jobs," Data for Progress co-founder Sean McElwee told Salon. "Pundits are trapped in a framework in which the environment is pitted against jobs, which is silly," he said.
Ah, but for Republicans, there can only be eternal war between the economy and the environment -- mostly because their donor class is made up of various forms of extraction and carbon-burning industries. The evil trolls are already testing out their WE MUST BURN OIL OR DIE bullshit, as we see in this charming piece at the Hill last weekend:
Critics say the transition would be impossible.
"One hundred percent renewable energy defies the laws of physics," said Tom Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, a fossil-fuel-backed conservative think tank. "It would be impossible to achieve."
Jesus H. Biomassing Christ on a rechargeable scooter, that's rich. As in Rich Fuckwads who are paid to poison the well. Golly, you mean the head of a rightwing fossil-fuel think tank says renewable energy "defies the laws of physics"? Guess he must know physics really good, with his expertise lobbying for Big Oil and his B.A. in Political Science from the University of Southern California.
So yeah, guess that's why no Oil Bidness people get to be on the committee. As Nancy Pelosi has already said, it's time for real science to guide our national politics; to that end, she's planning to reconstitute a House select committee on climate change, even with That Man in the White House. Republicans defunded it when they took the House in 2010, because they got all the science they wanted from the likes of Tom Pyle, Physics and Oil Expert.
Yr Wonkette is, despite our dead cold cynical hearts, actually pretty goddamned optimistic about all this, for all the fuckery that's inevitably going to be thrown in the way of a Green New Deal. You want a serving of hope and science? Check out this Twitter thread by Canadian climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, one of the co-authors of the National Climate Assessment. In it, she corrects some of the administration's bafflegab dismissing the report (she's the "co-author" mentioned in that CNN "Facts First" image above), and links to a few of her own videos explaining the science, even in terms a US "president" can understand. We were particularly encouraged by this one, which explains hell no, it's NOT too late to do anything:
Sure, the cartoony stick-people are a tad kitschy. If kitsch is persuasive, then let's go with kitsch. We can always come up with something a little more sardonic (but still optimistic!) for our special line of "Green New Deal" tees. Maybe Tom Joad with a jalopy truck, delivering solar panels?
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Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.