Earlier this month a new resolution was brought before the House of Representatives by the Freshmen Democrat of New York, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez. The Green New Deal is a non-binding resolution, meaning that it is not meant to be signed into law, but to display the general favor, or disfavor, that senators have for the idea. It is a tentative first step to a very controversial approach for climate change control.
The Green New Deal can be broken down into two parts; a comprehensive approach to reduce greenhouse gasses to 0 while simultaneously transitioning to completely renewable energy, as well as a new social policy that would bring aid to those in the lower class. All within the next ten years. While this sounds like something that everyone should get behind there is a laundry list of problems. The first being the price tag. Many estimations of the cost of the plan have put it past the 1 trillion dollar mark, with no real way to pay it.
Shortly after the Green New Deal was released Ocasio-Cortez, and her group that worked on the policy, released a frequently asked questions document that stirred up a lot of controversy. While the GND itself makes no mention of nuclear power, the FAQ makes it clear, “ It’s unclear if we will be able to decommission every nuclear plant within 10 years, but the plan is to transition off of nuclear and all fossil fuels as soon as possible.” It is unknown why a complete transition from nuclear power was deemed an important step toward lowering our greenhouse emissions, but it is the plan. The environmental plan is that over the next 10 years the United States would switch completely to renewable and clean energy, build a smart grid, require and ensure that all buildings maximize energy efficiency, move towards and build light rail transportation systems, and work with farmers to eliminate the methane production from cattle. Most, if not all of these solutions are good ideas, something to strive for, however, there is little evidence that they are possible or that the writers of the resolution have any concrete plans on how to make them happen. Many different large sectors of the economy are up in arms, mostly about what was said in the FAQ. “...we aren’t sure that we’ll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes that fast.” Big cattle as well as several airlines have gotten worried that the vagueness of the resolution is meant to hide the methods of which these goals will be met, with the destruction of industries, not the creation of jobs that those who wrote it want you to believe.
The second half of the resolution deals with increasing our economic power with the creation of jobs and an attempt at equality in economics. It includes guaranteed jobs, leave, vacation and retirement; labor laws; free higher education; required trade unions; health care, housing, security, clean air and water, healthy food, and access to nature; and several other items. It is important to note that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez is a self described socialist, meaning that she believes that the means of production should belong to all people. This is highlighted in the FAQ when it mentions that there would be added economic support for people who are unable and unwilling to work. This has probably been the biggest argument against the GND. America has always been a capitalist country, meaning that if you work hard you should be rewarded. There are many flaws to the system, but history has proven time and time again that socialism does not work. People are inherently lazy and given the option of working long days and not, but still getting paid, people will chose to not work. This means that not only is the cost of this idea high, the economy would begin to collapse, as was seen in Venezuela recently. One idea on how to pay for the plan is actually to follow directly in the bankrupt country’s footsteps and print new money. While this would make it possible to fund the plan, it would create sky high inflation and plummet the value of the dollar.
Most people agree that there is definite need for adaptation in the way the US is responding to climate change, and it is good that people are starting to come up with new plans, but the Green New Deal is an expensive, and impossible way of handling the growing issue. It may even end up being counterproductive as opposition can use it to fight change.