The Green New Deal (GND) promises to be one of the most contentious issues of our lifetime.
Spend anytime thinking through the implications of a plan to radically cut carbon emissions to reduce the threat of global warming (which really, in my humble opinion, should be described as global weirding) and you’ll see what I mean.
Recent events have have only provided a taste of just how contentious this promises to be.
On Monday, Diane Feinstein, the loathsome 85 year-old oligarch, a California Democrat with a net worth of $94 million, was confronted in her office by a courageous group of school children who asked her to sign on to the GND after reminding her that Earth scientists now say that urgent action on a GND scale is required in the next twelve years if humanity is going to avert catastrophe. Here was Feinstein’s response:
“Okay, I’ll tell you what, we’ve got our own green new deal. It’s not going to get turned around in ten years. Guess what? I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I know what I’m doing. You come in here and say it has to be my way or the highway. I don’t respond to that. I’ve just gotten elected. I just ran and I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality. And I know what I’m doing. So, you know, maybe people should listen a little bit. I’m trying to do the best I can, which was to write a responsible resolution…[if] you know better than I do… I think one day you should run for the Senate. In the meantime, I just won a big election.”
Do you care about our children? Really care enough to change the way that we live our lives and organize our economy? These are the questions that an authentic and independent media would be asking Feinstein in the wake of her shameful treatment of a group of kids who, basically, are asking her to help save the world they’re set to inherent.
However, that not the media we have. Instead, the corporate media, which is funded by the same corporate entities that fund Di-Fi, has spent the weeks essentially mocking the sweeping proposals as unrealistic and way, way, way too expensive.
That the corporate media has been joined in their effort to demean the GND by leading Democrats is a vivid example of just what we’re up against.
It’s not just Feinstein. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA, with a net worth of $72 million) has belittled the GND by referring to it as “the green dream or whatever they call it.” Recently, she was joined in elitist condescension by U.S. Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and neoliberal MSDNC morning television host Joe Scarborough. On Scarborough’s “Morning Joe” show recently, Durbin chuckled as the host referred to “the new green deal, the green new deal, whatever they call it.” Scarborough’s wife and co-host Mika Brzezinski cackled loudly when Durbin said, “I’ve read it and re-read and I asked (GND co-sponsor Senator) Ed Markey (D-MA) ‘what in the heck is this?’” Joe and Mike loved that comment. “You sound like Nancy!” Scarborough, laughed.
The Green New Deal was introduced earlier this month by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). The resolution lays out an ambitious set of goals and principles aimed at transforming and decarbonizing the US economy.
The release did in fact result in a great deal of smart, insightful writing. Unfortunately, this effort was overwhelmed by a lot of reactionary bull-shit. Conservatives called it totalitarian. Moderates called it extreme, too expensive and unrealistic. Think-tanks scolded it over this or that omission. Pundits obsessed over missteps in the rollout. And, we must never forget that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a socialist, who used to dance in college. So, there.
What seems to be clear is that all of the criticism misses the larger historical nature of the crisis we face. To put it bluntly–This is not normal. We are not in an era of normal politics.
Global weirding is poised to cause catastrophic sea-level rise, storm strength and frequency, ice melt, temperature, glacial collapse, crop failures, and massive population dislocations. The world as we know it is undergoing a sudden and violent transformation, unlike anything the planet has experienced since the Cretaceous Extinction. The evidence is all around us: vast droughts that last decades, super-storms and floods that destroy cities, dwindling aquifers, vanishing glaciers, toxic water supplies, raging wildfires, obscure new diseases, vanishing species and indigenous communities. Our planet is changing faster than evolution can keep up.
Going further, there is no precedent for global weirding, its dangers or its opportunities. Above all, the massive crisis calls for courage and fresh thinking.
Of course, we could always do nothing. I’m sure that would be cheaper, right?
We’ll be talking a lot more about the GND in the coming weeks.
In the meantime, one simple and noncontroversial way to reduce carbon pollution has been gathering steam across the country: energy efficiency. Policies like those that encourage the retrofitting of low-income homes in Texas with insulation and provide cash incentives for new homes in Vermont that generate as much power as they consume are reducing carbon emissions and pollution while creating jobs. Some 2.25 million people are working in the swiftly growing sector.