What’s Left: The Green New Deal

Eli Cousin, Maroon-News Staff

The United States is, in fact, facing a national emergency, although it is not at our southern border. Since President Trump has assumed office, climate scientists have shed further light on the harrowing effects of climate change, both on the global and national level. The consensus is clear: climate change is not a “hoax”—it is a full blown crisis.

This past year, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change commissioned by the United Nations declared that the global community has only 12 years to correct course on our changing environment. The gravity of our current climate predicament was further enforced by the National Climate Assessment, which warned of disastrous implications for both the environment and the economy.

From this damning picture emerged the Green New Deal, a bold and progressive plan that seeks to match the corresponding crisis in both scale and scope.

The Green New Deal Resolution, as formally introduced by Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), is not without its imperfections. However, it has become increasingly clear that a plan of such ambition and magnitude is exactly what this moment in history requires. Knowing what we know now, a failure to meet this human-induced crisis head on can only be viewed as a grotesque level of complacency that willingly emboldens and enables catastrophe for generations to come.

While the Republican party has attempted to turn the Green New Deal and its chief supporter Ocasio-Cortez into a proverbial boogeyman, it is not a stretch to say that the crux of the proposal is largely commonsense. As David Roberts writes in Vox, “The goals—achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions, creating jobs, providing for a just transition, securing clean air and water—are broadly popular.” The majority of Americans support a carbon tax, and plans to reinvest in our infrastructure are both bipartisan and long overdue. The Green New Deal lays the groundwork for a bold investment in sustainable jobs and infrastructure, something that both the American citizen and economy will benefit from.

Some members of the Republican party are quick to question the cost of such a bold and sweeping plan. Perhaps if the GOP truly practiced the conservative economic principles which they profess, these criticisms would hold greater weight. However, the reality is this: under the Trump administration, the national deficit has soared and is on path to hit $1 trillion during his time in office. Republicans who hypocritically suggest the Green New Deal is economically irresponsible ought to not only consider their own party’s legislative and budgetary actions, but consider proposing their own climate action. Any criticism of the Green New Deal that fails to offer an alternative is merely an abdication of the U.S. government’s moral and ethical responsibility to confront our impending climate crisis.

This is not to say that the proposal does not deserve some level of scrutiny. There are certain aspects in particular—one of them being a federal job guarantee—that deserve to be debated further, and perhaps nixed altogether. However, it is imperative that Democrats and progressives not be stunted by conservative media nitpicking and ad hominem attacks against Ocasio-Cortez herself. The goal remains clear: a climate policy that meets this moment and says to the rest of the world that the U.S. will lead the charge on this generational fight.

Ultimately, both parties have an obligation to tackle what the scientific community has unanimously decried to be a clear and present threat to our global climate. Unless Republicans are able to offer an alternative solution that matches the Green New Deal in its bold and ambitious nature, they are better served working with Democrats to produce the best final version.

As David Roberts so eloquently titles his article in Vox, “This is an emergency, damn it!” With passage of the Green New Deal, our government could prove that they finally got the memo.

Contact Eli Cousin at [email protected].