Green New Deal isn’t radical – it’s necessary


Graphic by Alik Schier

Adelaide Kaiser

In 1933, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the New Deal to pull the U.S. out of the Great Depression. The crisis in the country at the time was dire, and FDR recognized that transformative action was needed. The resulting policy, the New Deal, was able to employ Americans and effectively end the Great Depression, embodying the greatest ideals we hold true as Americans: working together to solve a crisis, not just hoping for change but demanding it, and trying to find a solution for the good of the nation.

Today, we are facing a different kind of crisis. Climate change, or as some like to call it, “the climate crisis,” is threatening the future of not just the U.S., but the world as a whole. Scientists say that we have 12 short years to completely transform the way humans use the Earth. If we do nothing, the world will continue to heat up. That will have incredibly harmful consequences: rising sea levels will lead to flooding, already warm parts of the world will become uninhabitable due to temperature increases, approximately half of all species will go extinct, weather events will become more extreme, and resources will become scarce. The changing of our climate by just a few degrees will lead to a completely unrecognizable world, with huge losses in biodiversity, habitat, and life.

To combat that problem, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey have introduced a Green New Deal to Congress. Much like FDR’s New Deal, the Green New Deal aims to bring comprehensive and radical reform, the kind of reform the majority of climate scientists say that we need in order to actually halt the climate crisis. Its goal is to reduce the U.S.’s carbon emissions to net zero, moving the U.S. to 100 percent renewable energy, overhaul our transportation system, and support lower and middle-class people with health care and a living wage. This is an important task, considering the U.S. is the second-largest emitter of carbon dioxide emissions in the world. Although it is an ambitious piece of legislation, a Green New Deal-esque bill is the only thing that will be able to stop and eventually reverse the rapidly worsening crisis that we are facing.

Recently, a group of middle-schoolers in California went to visit their senator, Dianne Feinstein. A video of these kids went viral when Feinstein berated them for coming into her office and telling her it’s “my way or the highway.” Feinstein, who is 85 years old and will most likely not live long enough to see the full effects of the climate crisis, told the children (who will be left to clean up the mess) that she was planning on proposing a resolution that would be more likely to pass the Senate. Her main argument for not supporting a Green New Deal is that it would never pass in Congress and that it would cost too much money.

This is a common reaction I’ve seen: “It’ll never pass, it’s too radical, it’s not realistic.” To me, those are just cop-outs. Why would we say solutions, real, tangible solutions to any crisis were ‘too radical?’ When faced with a radical problem we need a radical solution. Did FDR wait to take action to end the Great Depression? No, of course not. Although the climate crisis is not as blatantly apparent as the Great Depression was, it will be in the coming years. What’s so frustrating about the climate crisis is that, with the right measures being taken now, it is a preventable problem. The apocalypse is ringing our doorbell, and we don’t have to let it in. We are at our last chance to change the future. Every part of the Green New Deal is not necessarily realistic. However, it’s the best option to give our future a shot at success. What’s the point in giving up because something will be hard to achieve? The American Dream is one of hard work, dedication, and success. We must bring that energy to the government to solve the biggest emergency of our generation. As I recall, it’s not the American way to give up easily.

The Green New Deal has also been criticized for the amount of money it will cost. This is another misguided idea. To convert the U.S. to clean energy will employ thousands of Americans. Clean energy is the future, and that’s where the jobs are—not in dying industries such as coal. The Green New Deal would actually improve the U.S. economy and the environment, which is something that I don’t believe should be a partisan idea. I don’t think we’re in a position to say we don’t have money to spare when Trump was ready to drop everything and spend $5 billion on a wall. We spend $639 billion on military defense spending every year; it’s not a far-fetched idea to spend some of those billions on creating a world that will actually support humanity in 30 years.

Many politicians, mostly Republicans, are hesitant about supporting the Green New Deal. Many of their constituents work in the fossil fuel industry or don’t believe the climate crisis is as critical as it is. Many politicians get money from coal or oil lobbies and don’t want to lose that support. But we are at a pivotal moment in history, and they will be remembered for what they choose to do. It is time for politicians to put aside their special interests and think about the future and the legacy they want to leave: one of action or inaction.

The climate crisis will not be solved by people choosing not to use a plastic straw or cutting out a burger every once in a while (although those actions won’t hurt). It can only be solved by a transformative piece of legislation that will protect our world. I urge everyone to stand in support of a Green New Deal. Protest, fight, and tell the world that you want to have a home for the next generation. There is one thing that holds all life together, and it is in danger because of humans. It is up to us to protect our home.