Since I have no special expertise on climate change, I can’t comment usefully on the scientific aspects of the Green New Deal (GND) resolution introduced recently in the House of Representatives. As a result, I don’t even believe that I can comment usefully on how the U.S. economy may be affected by a major green refit and the tradeoffs it will inevitably entail even if I had a clear idea of what such a blueprint would entail.
What I do claim some expertise on is political posturing and elementary logic. And on those bases alone, it’s glaringly obvious that the resolution’s Congressional and other supporters aren’t the slightest bit serious about preventing catastrophic global warming.
Here’s the dead giveaway: Nothing in the plan, or about it, is remotely capable of addressing the threat as it’s described by GND-ers.
Let’s assume for argument’s sake that most, or perhaps not even many, of the resolution’s backers don’t literally agree with their leading spokesperson, freshman Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, that “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change….” (And even this phrasing is pretty fishy. What’s with using fudgy language like “address” in such a cassandra-like clarion call? Did President Franklin D. Roosevelt warn Americans that the country could be endangered if it didn’t “address” the Nazis and the Japanese militarists? Moreover, how many years of planetary survival will be gained by “addressing” the threat? How long does the Earth have until climate change is ended or whatever ultimate goal the GND-ers have in mind?)
Even GND-ers believing the planet has more than twelve years surely view the situation as desperate. But if so, what’s the point of spending precious time working up a document that’s non-binding, and that even many backers view as “aspirational”? (See, e.g., here and here.) What possible excuse could there be for not focusing on whatever it takes to passing a mandatory climate change plan ASAP – and with veto-proof majorities?
In addition, why, given the immediacy of the threat and the literal life and death stakes for humanity as a whole do the GND-ers clutter up their manifesto with objectives and standards such as “ensuring that the Green New Deal mobilization creates high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages, hires local workers, offers training and advancement opportunities, and guarantees wage and benefit parity for workers affected by the transition….”? Or “guaranteeing a job with a family-sus4 taining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States….”?
In other words, no planet-saving campaign can be approved unless it benefits organized labor? And how long do those paid vacations need to be?
Similarly, why, given the ostensible urgency, does the resolution insist that the program “be developed through transparent and inclusive consultation, collaboration, and partnership with frontline and vulnerable communities, labor unions, worker cooperatives, civil society groups, academia, and businesses….”? What a time sink that’s going to be!
And that leads to the most suspicious substantive feature of the GND movement so far. Even though climate change warnings have been sounded literally for decades, and even though they’ve been issued with increasing frequency by more and more individuals, organizations, national governments, and international organizations, the above phrasing is an explicit admission that there’s no commonly agreed upon plan that would even cover the United States alone.
Principally, on the one hand, the resolution states that its goals (including “meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources….”) “should be accomplished through a 10-year national mobilization.” On the other, it proposes achieving these goals through “making public investments in the research and development of new clean and renewable energy technologies and industries….” In other words, after all this time, the GND-ers don’t yet know what these technologies could be, let alone how long it will take to turn whatever laboratory breakthroughs they envision into knowhow usable in the real world.
One of my favorite adages is that necessity is the mother of invention, mainly because its opposite is usually true as well: If there’s no real invention, you can be there’s no necessity. As demonstrated by the form and substance of the resolution, that’s a legitimate conclusion to be drawn about the Green New Deal.