The Green New Deal is one of many political hot-button issues right now, but it is one of the most important by a long shot. The Green New Deal is a comprehensive resolution put forward by House representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey that addresses dying and emerging industries in America and the threat the environment faces due to the use of climate negative resources and technologies. However, the politics, and not the contents, of the resolution become twisted, confusing and often disheartening. Almost immediately from the beginning of the Green New Deal reveal, the discussion around it has not been about its contents, but about its political survivability and the merits of Ocasio-Cortez. High-profile Republicans have spent their time painting over the resolution as a socialist pipe dream instead of producing a climate plan of their own, as Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has worked on. Also, centrist Democrats have broken away from the progressive wing of the party and have spent their time debating whether or not the Democrats can afford to do something “too radical,” like act on climate change.
There is an obvious issue with mislabeling the Green New Deal and dismissing climate policy reform: the diminution of climate change’s effect on our environment and the role that we play to stop that effect for our politicians. Our role in climate change and its effects, however, are vitally important and cannot be lessened.
Climate change and its prevention is sloped; it is not an immediate switch we can hold off for as long as possible. Climate change, if we continue to ignore solutions, will become more difficult to act on and the solutions that must be proposed will be even more life-altering.
We have already passed the deadline to go back to pre-industrial climate and now can only hope to stop climate change from going further. We have a slew of problems associated with our desire to continue to consume non-renewable energy sources. The winter season has become increasingly erratic and generally shorter over the past decade and a half. In the last ten years, the beginning of spring has averaged over a week sooner than normally as well as autumn continuing for ten days later than normally. A shorter winter by less than a month does not seem like an emergent issue, but like a fever, it is indicative of a larger problem beneath the surface. These changing seasons and the increased amount of polar ice melting as a result have an effect on vital life-giving patterns developed over time on a geologic scale. Currents like the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation, which operate like oceanic river deltas, delivering mass amounts of nutrients from deeper waters to the shallows where most marine life lies, have been disrupted due to the rising sea levels and salinity of our world’s oceans. In turn, whole ecosystems, most of which coast dwellers depend on for their own survival have been disrupted in two decades at a scale that should take hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of years.
Not only are we creating problems for ourselves in the oceans, but our agricultural practices have negatively affected climate stabilizers. Rivers like the Mississippi, which are a lifeline for many American farmers, have been disrupted over the past century due to dams, canals and run offs. This takes over the millions of years long process and essentially halts the natural purpose of major rivers and their deltas and cuts the nutrient supply to areas from Mississippi all the way to Minnesota. In turn, land surrounding these areas and the ecosystems they support are weakening.
My question is, given how far we have gone down the rabbit hole when it comes to climate change, when will enough ever be enough? We do not have that many options left; the more time we waste means more doors will close.
The legislation proposed by the Green New Deal is a non-binding resolution that provides pathways forward to green energy, environmental recovery and economic growth. Ocasio Cortez and Markey did what they needed to do. They started a dialogue on what needs to happen about climate change. The Green New Deal, as criticized by various political pundits from networks like Fox and CNN, proposes major changes to American life. For starters, it calls for one hundred percent of the energy consumption in the United States to be from zero-emission, renewable sources by 2030. Currently, we get eighty percent of our energy from non-renewable sources like gas, coal and oil. We are also one of the top emissions contributors in the world, in the same league with industrializing countries like China and India. The proposal also calls for investment in new transportation methods like high-speed rail, as America and the world becomes more technologically advanced and capable. However, the resolution does not call for zero air traffic, or the abolishment of hamburgers, as an alarming amount of politicians and pundits have argued.
When you break it down, and take away the politics, the Green New Deal becomes a sensical, economically-bound proposal that is ambitious and challenging, but something that is necessary for our current position and cannot be thrown to the side.