I care immensely about the earth, the people on it, and our beautifully interdependent relationship.
So it is with some hope that I saw the Green New Deal become a topic of discussion in recent months. Last week, of course, it burst onto the floor of the House of Representatives in the form of House Resolution 109.
Then, I saw a steady stream of headlines from one extreme to another. Either the Green New Deal solves all of our problems, or it destroys our freedoms, bans air travel, and provides support for those shameless enough to be ‘unwilling to work.’
So I read the actual contents of HR 109 for myself. It is not, in fact, even a lengthy read.
Let me clarify first that air travel is not banned by HR 109, nor are those ‘unwilling to work’ called out for special consideration. There is no degree of such specificity in the document.
It is a broad, vague piece of legislation, mainly serving to give focus to the issue of climate change. It implements a ”growth” approach to the environment problem, with a heavy emphasis on economic development and economic justice.
I am not convinced, however, that depending on a massive ramping up of technology and business provides a holistic response to climate change.
I noticed, too, that certain very important sectors in such a discussion are completely absent. If you want to talk about protecting the earth, and somehow manage to leave out any mention of the US military and their various endeavors, well, there’s a gaping hole in the argument right at the get-go.
I am wary that such legislation once again promotes business solutions and interests in answer to a peoples’ problem on the survival scale. These would be the same institutions that got us into this mess in the first place.
HR 109’s “10-year national mobilization” seeks, among other things, to:
- build resiliency against climate change-related disasters
- repair and upgrade infrastructure
- meet 100 percent of the US power demand through dramatically expanded and upgraded clean, renewable, zero-emission power sources and new capacity
- build or upgrade appropriate power grids,
- spur massive growth in clean manufacturing and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emission as much as is technologically feasible,
- work to remove pollution and emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible
- overhaul transportation systems
- mitigate and manage effects of pollution and climate change
- remove greenhouse gases and reduce pollution by restoring natural ecosystems through proven low-tech solutions
- restore and protect ecosystems
- clean up existing hazardous waste and abandoned sites, “ensuring economic development and sustainability”
- identify other emission and solution sources and create solutions
Along the way, we generate high-quality jobs, with livable wages and healthcare, and support unions in the process. Everything is liberally sprinkled with mentions of investment, leverage, funding, because, obviously, this all costs money.
These efforts culminate with the usual objective of “promoting the international exchange of technology, expertise, products, funding, and services, with the aim of making the United States the international leader on climate action….” There ya go.
None of this sounds bad, it’s just that I see a potentially counter-productive frenzy of business and industry, technology, finance, and marketing in this ‘solution.’ It could be fun for a while.
I am not one who supposes that we will save our environment simply by turning off lights in empty rooms or religiously remembering our cloth shopping bags. Neither do I suppose that the captains of technology, finance, and manufacturing can be trusted to shape a responsible answer to the predicament they created through their demonstrated allegiance to their own pockets.
In short, I think we have to look at the system itself, and be brave enough to tackle that, creatively. That would be before the system, or the earth, simply implodes.