I imagine a country that protects the planet for the sake of its children. We must commit to a war-time effort to transform our energy sources from fossil fuels to carbonless, renewable energy sources. We have coalesced in similar ways before and I'm confident we'll adopt a similar commitment to protecting the planet - our children depend on us to do so.
• Decarbonize the planet to avoid irreparable harm to our people, resources, and infrastructure
• Invest in green infrastructure
• Transform energy system to accomplish net-zero emissions
• Create millions of good paying jobs
• Guarantee a transition to an economy that works for all of us
On April 7, climate scientists were arrested after handcuffing themselves to a bank. Their civil disobedience is the culmination of a slow escalation: decades of ignored objective, peer-reviewed warnings and decades of stagnation.
So why can’t we make progress on climate mitigation?
The reality is the fossil fuel industry purchased representatives to protect their industry. This isn’t speculative: “Before giving to any political candidate, the ExxonMobil PAC has a robust process to assess the candidate’s platform, prior voting record, and consistency with the company’s priorities.” Further, an ExxonMobil lobbyist was caught on camera explaining, “on the Democratic side we look for the moderates on these issue.”
Our representative, Donald Norcross, is one of those moderates. ExxonMobil has donated to Norcross each campaign cycle since 2014 and he’s certainly earned it. Against President Obama and the majority of Democrats, Norcross voted for the Keystone XL Pipeline - energy described as “the world’s most destructive oil operation.” He’s also only one of two leadership members on the Progressive Caucus not supporting the Green New Deal, which boasts 81% support among registered voters (despite party affiliation) (Yale/George Mason).
“Climate scientists are desperate: we’re crying, begging and getting arrested.” I can’t imagine dedicating your entire life’s work to objectivity and science only to have it overshadowed by the will of corporate interests. The truth is we can help them - and we do that by voting out the representatives who undermine their work.
In over 10,000 years, the average global temperature has stayed within 1°C of change, but this consistency was disrupted in the 1960s. By this time, our economy had been powered by fossil fuels and the warming gasses they omitted broke our normal warming and cooling patterns.
Scientists had believed that we would be safe and preserve habitability with up to +2°C of warming, but the devastation we’ve witnessed at only +1°C warming has changed this prediction.
The results at only +1°C warming have been catastrophic: the Amazon has lost its ability to filter emissions and now emits more carbon dioxide than it can absorb; wildfires in Australia burned 42 million acres in 2019-2020; ice melt is accelerating at a rate that outpaces prediction; and storms are intensifying due to warmer waters. Entire ecosystems have been disrupted.
Scientists now warn that warming beyond +2°C will result in consequences and damages that cannot be rectified: 350 million people exposed to deadly heat stress by 2050; mass climate refugee migration; a loss of more than 99 percent of all coral reefs on Earth; and far more severe wildfires in the western United States.
The economic threats are also substantial. Warming at +2°C will result in more than $500 billion in lost annual economic output in the United State and a risk of damage to $1 trillion of public infrastructure and costal real estate.
The most concerning realization from this history is that we thought we’d be safe at a level of warming that we now understand would have been catastrophic – that we didn’t realize we were in danger until we had started to experience the threats of climate change. Because of this, we do not have the luxury of patience in responding to a warming planet.
A solution does exist. The potential to heal our planet is possible, but only if we act with the urgency that meets the weight of this crisis. The Green New Deal is a resolution that acknowledges both the severity of this threat and our responsibility to intervene. To stop global warming, we must stop releasing warming gasses. This resolution underscores the need to transform our energy sources from coal and natural gas to sustainable, net-zero energy sources: geothermal, solar, hydroelectric, and wind energies. Policies that allow the private sector to decarbonize with leisure, such as carbon taxes, are inadequate responses to this crisis; there is no time for incrementalism.
The Green New Deal calls for a war-time effort to transform our energy systems and does so in a way that is fair and just. The resolution calls for the creation of millions of new, good paying jobs to facilitate the transition from an economy powered by fossil fuels and natural gas to one powered by 100% renewable sources.
We have coalesced in similar ways before. We rebuilt our nation’s infrastructure, guaranteed public jobs, and emerged from The Great Depression with The New Deal. I’m confident we’ll adopt a similar commitment to protecting the planet because our children depend on us to do so.