By: Elizabeth Klein
On February 7, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey released their “Green New Deal,” a fourteen-page non-binding resolution detailing how the U.S. should reduce the effects of climate change. Its goal is to get US greenhouse emissions to “net-zero” with a ten-year plan that meets 100% of power demand with “clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.” While some say it’s a valuable solution to the climate change crisis plaguing the planet right now, others claim that the Green New Deal could never work on a practical level, offering plans that are far too lofty and short-sided to be implemented nationally.
One of the biggest opponents of the Green New Deal is Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore. This past Saturday, he tweeted “@AOC Pompous little twit. You don’t have a plan to grow food for 8 billion people without fossil fuels, or get food into the cities. Horses? If fossil fuels were banned every tree in the world would be cut down for fuel for cooking and heating. You would bring about mass death.” He continued in another tweet, addressing Ocasio-Cortez’s comment that climate change is our “world war.” He wrote, “Isn’t @AOC a bit young to talk about WW2? It was Hell & more than 60 million died. It’s her @GND that would be worse than WW2. Imagine no fuel for cars, trucks, tractors, combines, harvesters, power-plants, ships, aircraft, etc. Transport of people & goods would grind to a halt.”
However, others take a more optimistic view of the resolution, claiming that the ideas it suggests are not improbable. In fact, some claim that it’s downright reasonable. “Right now, we have about ninety per cent or ninety-five per cent of the technology we need,” said Mark Jacobson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford, in an interview with the New Yorker. Although Jacobson has estimated that accomplishing zero-emissions throughout all fifty states will take five years longer than AOC’s proposal, he asserts that the only thing left to do is use the technology that already exists. “We don’t need a technological miracle to solve this problem,” he asserted.
The implications of the Green New Deal may not be as drastic as Patrick Moore claims, but regardless of the possibility of a United States with zero-emission energy sources, many still have significant reservations. “While I agree with the need to reduce carbon emissions, I believe that setting a 10-year goal to go totally carbon-free, as is currently specified in the Green New Deal, does not set us up for success—particularly given the range of energy sources that communities and industries rely on,” said Democratic Representative Elissa Slotkin. Andrew Wheeler, the administrator of the EPA, said that supporters of the proposal are “oblivious” to the need for fossil fuels. “Supporters of the Green New Deal—or plans like it—are not only oblivious to how far we’ve come, but also where we are headed,” he said. “There are a few, loud voices calling for the complete dismantling of U.S. fossil fuel production. Not only would this be dangerous for the economy and national security, but it would be devastating for public health—both here and abroad.” Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed a negative view of the Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution, referring to it as “the green dream, or whatever they call it.”
All in all, most people agree that the Democrats won’t be able to generate the support needed to pass the resolution, even though it doesn’t require any immediate action of Congress. However, Ocasio Cortez and Markey’s resolution represents a movement in favor of action against climate change that is increasing in attention across the globe. It is now clearer than ever that we don’t have much time left to save the world and preserve the resources we rely on. But the sentiments expressed in the Green New Deal and the support surrounding it show that we’re moving in a positive direction for environmental preservation. The Green New Deal probably won’t pass this time around. But when another, stronger resolution is proposed sometime in the near future, maybe then we’ll be ready for it.