What is the Green New Deal? It is a plan to deal with the warnings issued by the IPCC 6 climate report and the latest National Climate Assessment. Both documents tells us we have less than 12 years to drastically lower carbon emissions if we want to have any hope of keeping average global temperatures from rising more than 1.5º C.
“Oh, it’s too hard!” critics cry. Yes, it will be hard. “It’ll cost too much money,” others scream. Yes, it will be expensive but not as costly as doing nothing. “It will kill jobs,” more complain. Actually, it will create new employment opportunities, just not in industries like oil, gas, and coal extraction.
Joe Biden Caves To Sunrise Movement Pressure
The Sunrise Movement is a group of mostly young climate advocates who support the Green New Deal. Until recently, former vice president Joe Biden, who is currently leading the polls among all Democratic candidates for president, has argued for a namby pamby, middle of the road, kick the can down the road strategy on climate change.
On June 4, he bowed to pressure from the Sunrise Movement and announced his own climate plan calling for the United States to get to net zero emissions by 2050. He says his proposals will create 10 million new jobs.
We are in a climate emergency and we must take drastic action now to address it. So today, I’m announcing my plan for a Clean Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice.https://t.co/FbsOsyQkIo pic.twitter.com/SBDrdiFu2C
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) June 4, 2019
Hey, Joe. Can you do simple math? 2050 is twenty years too late. What is up with you? “Biden has been trying to take somewhat of a centrist tack, but he has to appease the core of the base if he’s going to win the primary,” said Jim Manley, who served as an aide to former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, tells the Washington Post. “They’ve needed to start throwing down some solid policies that will appease the left.”
Appease the left? That’s what all this comes down to, sloganeering to capture partisans? Does anyone understand the seriousness of the catastrophe confronting the world and all its people? Apparently nobody in politics does. In an e-mail, the Sunrise Movement had this to say about Biden and his plan.
“This victory shows what people power can do. Because of tens of thousands of people around the country, we’ve raised the bar for what it means to be a leader on climate change. But, we’ve got to keep up the pressure on Biden and all the candidates.
“Making the Green New Deal a reality won’t happen in one day or one bill, and it won’t be easy. We need a President prepared for a tough fight with fossil fuel corporations desperate to squeeze every last dollar out of the Earth. That’s why it’s troubling to see Biden has picked Heather Zichal as a top climate advisor, who, until last year, was earning hundreds of thousands of dollars a year as a board member at a major natural gas company. To show he’s serious about standing up to the oil and gas lobby, Biden needs to get rid of fossil fuel-backed advisers and show us he’s serious about leading an administration that’s ready to fight and win.
“Millions of lives are still on the line, and our movement needs to do everything in its power to hold Biden and all the candidates to delivering their promises in the upcoming months.”
Since the plan was released, plenty of people have noticed large chunks of it were lifted wholesale from other climate change organization without attribution. The parallel to a plagiarism scandal in the 80s which tagged Biden with the moniker “Xerox Joe” is not what the candidate needs right now.
Add to that his statement today that he supports the Hyde Amendment, a law from the 80s that forbids federal funds to be used for women’s health issues including abortion, which is likely to further tarnish his reputation with progressive voters. Stick a fork in Biden. He’s done.
Climate Change Is Our Third World War
Joseph Stiglitz is an economics professor at Columbia. In 2001, he received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics. He has served as the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and as the chief economist of the World Bank. In other words, he is no lightweight when it comes to economics and government policy. Writing in The Guardian this week, he says “The climate crisis is our third world war. It needs a bold response.”
To the complaint that we can’t afford a Green New Deal, he replies, “Yes, we can afford it, with the right fiscal policies and collective will. But more importantly, we must afford it. The climate emergency is our third world war. Our lives and civilization as we know it are at stake, just as they were in the second world war.”
We are already paying for climate change, he says. “[W]e are already experiencing the direct costs of ignoring the issue — in recent years the country has lost almost 2% of GDP in weather-related disasters, which include floods, hurricanes, and forest fires. The cost to our health from climate-related diseases is just being tabulated, but it, too, will run into the tens of billions of dollars – not to mention the as-yet-uncounted number of lives lost.
“We will pay for climate breakdown one way or another, so it makes sense to spend money now to reduce emissions rather than wait until later to pay a lot more for the consequences – not just from weather but also from rising sea levels. It’s a cliche, but it’s true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Some readers may remember this Fram commercial from the 70s. It was true then, and it’s still true today.
Stiglitz argues the Green New Deal could be just what the US economy needs.
“The war on the climate emergency, if correctly waged, would actually be good for the economy — just as the second world war set the stage for America’s golden economic era with the fastest rate of growth in its history amidst shared prosperity. The Green New Deal would stimulate demand, ensuring that all available resources were used and the transition to the green economy would likely usher in a new boom. Trump’s focus on the industries of the past, like coal, is strangling the much more sensible move to wind and solar power. More jobs by far will be created in renewable energy than will be lost in coal.”
“Some changes will be easy,” Stiglitz says. “for instance, eliminating the tens of billions of dollars of fossil fuel subsidies and moving resources from producing dirty energy to producing clean energy. You could say, though, that America is lucky — we have such a poorly designed tax system that’s regressive and rife with loopholes that it would be easy to raise more money at the same time that we increase economic efficiency.”
“Taxing dirty industries, ensuring that capital pays at least as high a tax rate as those who work for a living, and closing tax loopholes would provide trillions of dollars to the government over the next 10 years, money that could be spent on fighting the climate emergency. Moreover, the creation of a national Green Bank would provide funding to the private sector for climate breakdown — to homeowners who want to make the high-return investments in insulation that enables them to wage their own battle against the climate crisis, or businesses that want to retrofit their plants and headquarters for the green economy.”
Finally, there is this. “There is absolutely no reason the innovative and green economy of the 21st century has to follow the economic and social models of the 20th-century manufacturing economy based on fossil fuels, just as there was no reason that that economy had to follow the economic and social models of the agrarian and rural economies of earlier centuries.”
Jay Inslee Slammed By DNC
Washington governor Jay Inslee is another presidential contender with an actual plan meant to aggressively address the danger of a warming planet. He is committed to making climate change a central focus of his campaign. The Democratic National Committee is having none of it, however. Inslee released this statement on June 5.
“Today, my team received a call from the Democratic National Committee letting us know that they will not host a climate debate. Further, they explained that if we participated in anyone else’s climate debate, we will not be invited to future debates.
“This is deeply disappointing. The DNC is silencing the voices of Democratic activists, many of our progressive partner organizations, and nearly half of the Democratic presidential field, who want to debate the existential crisis of our time. Democratic voters say that climate change is their top issue; the Democratic National Committee must listen to the grassroots of the party.”
“We are running out of time. We’ve kicked the can down the road for too long. The climate crisis merits a full discussion of our plans, not a short exchange of talking points. The next President must make defeating this crisis the top priority of the nation,” Inslee added, according to a report by The Hill.
For its part, the DNC defended its move, saying, “While climate change is at the top of our list, the DNC will not be holding entire debates on a single issue area because we want to make sure voters have the ability to hear from candidates on dozens of issues of importance to American voters.”
Inslee fired back immediately. “The Democratic Party’s response to climate change cannot only be a few quick questions in the first debates where, in 60 seconds, candidates merely agree that this issue is important, and move on,” he said. “We need a full debate to really wrestle with who has the best plans to defeat this existential crisis, who has demonstrated the commitment it will take to get this job done, and who understands the scale of ambition necessary to see this mission through to completion.”
If Politicians Won’t Act, Will The Courts?
On June 4, the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit held a hearing in the case of Juliana Vs. US, the landmark climate lawsuit brought by a group of young people, including the granddaughter of noted climate scientist James Hansen, which argues the government has a duty to ensure that Americans have a clean environment in which to live.
Can you imagine anything more ridiculous than suggesting people have a right not to be burdened with poor health and sentenced to an early death? The government has tied itself into a pretzel arguing just that. “I think what’s at stake is the ability of these young people to vindicate their constitutional rights,” plaintiff attorney Andrea Rodgers, senior staff attorney for Our Children’s Trust, told The Guardian before the hearing.
The government was represented at the hearing by Jeffrey Clark, who has publicly equated greenhouse gas regulation with socialist attempts to seize the economy and use of United Nations science as synonymous with US rule by foreign scientists. No, we are not making this up. The US is relying on the talents of a confirmed conspiracy theorist in one of the most important cases in the history of the nation.
Clark’s second line of defense is that the suit violates the separation of powers provisions of the US Constitution. He actually may have a point. But the larger question is, will the 9 justices of the Supreme Court be standing outside with a banner reading “Separation Of Powers” when the waters of the Potomac reach the front steps of the Supreme Court? If the legislative branch and the executive branch refuse to act to protect that country, does that mean the court must refuse to act as well?
No matter how the three judge panel in the 9th Circuit rules, the case will inevitably wind up before the US Supreme Court, where a majority of judges were suckled their entire careers by Koch Brothers money. Collectively, they are salivating at the prospect of putting the kibosh on the upstart plaintiffs. Who do these people think they are, taking up the court’s time with such ludicrous claims?
Expect the USSC to make short work of Juliana Vs.US with a “less government is better government” smack down and get back to the important work of rolling back every important court decision of the past 100 years. Maybe they can undo Brown vs Board of Education and resurrect the hateful Dred Scott decision before they are done taking a wrecking ball to every progressive policy since 1910.
If Politicians & Courts Won’t Step Up, Who Will?
US carbon emissions rose 3.4% in 2018 — the largest increase in 8 years — despite the closure of many coal-fired generating plants. We’re not reducing emissions, we’re adding more than ever to the atmosphere. Meanwhile, the alleged leader of the US is in London bragging that America has a ”very clean” environment and proving beyond any reasonable doubt he lacks the intellectual capacity to comprehend the difference between climate and weather.
“I believe there’s a change in weather, and I think it changes both ways. Don’t forget, it used to be called global warming, that wasn’t working, then it was called climate change. Now it’s actually called extreme weather, because with extreme weather you can’t miss,” he told UK journalist Piers Morgan.
So if the DNC won’t take the Green New Deal seriously and the president won’t and the Supreme Court won’t, what’s left for responsible citizens to do?
Disrupt the political process. Why not establish a new political party, one that isn’t beholden to Wall Street or fossil fuel interests, one that advocates forcefully for progressive values at all levels from city council to the White House? Why not encourage new people to run for office under the banner of this new organization? There is nothing in the Constitution that limits America to two political parties.
Let’s give it a name. How about the America party? Or why call it a party at all, with all the baggage of failed leadership, lies, and corruption that label implies? Call it America Matters or America Green or America Leads. Call it anything you like as long as it breaks traditional notions of what a political organization should be.
What is needed is the will to say no to politics as usual and yes to the politics of climate action. Failure to do so is tantamount to committing national suicide. With that background, what do we have to lose?