Negative narrative surrounds Green New Deal

Negative narrative surrounds Green New Deal

Many people like to spin a negative narrative around anything that might be labeled “green.”

This is the case when it comes to the Green New Deal, a nonbinding resolution introduced by New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Feb. 7 of this year and co-sponsored by 89 other representatives.

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts also introduced a companion measure in the Senate with 12 co-sponsors.

Negative comments made by news media outlets and politicians are just laughable such as Sen. John Barrasso’s remark that “AOC wants to make ice cream illegal” to Florida Sen. Rick Scott stating that “it would end air travel.” I doubt either of them, as well as the pundits of the media, have even read the 14-page Green New Deal.

This resolution is not a law but a list of proposals that would benefit the nation’s economy while addressing the climate crisis. The resolution has been likened to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal, which helped the nation recover from the Depression through innovative programs such as public work projects, financial reforms and regulations.

Some Republican politicians are claiming it is “unrealistic” and “too expensive.” Rep. Ralph Abraham of Louisiana said it is “a socialist’s wish list of absurd proposals rooted in fantasy and funded by raising your taxes.” This uniformed statement was made to scare people.

Upon my reading of the Green New Deal, it is obvious socialism (a social system or theory in which the government owns and controls the means of production and distribution of goods) is not a part of the deal, and there is absolutely no mention of tax increases.

The document instead describes many problems facing our country. It lays out a plan to address these problems in ways that will significantly curb the climate crisis we are facing. At the same time the plan will infuse our economy with needed job creation and secure “clean air and water, healthy food, access to nature, climate and community resilience, sustainable environments, and justice and equity for all groups through a 10-year national mobilization.”

Unlike Abraham, I did not find the proposals to be “absurd.” Many of them, like regenerative agriculture and mass transit, are currently under consideration by corporations, states and other countries.

The Green New Deal calls for an “overhauling of transportation systems.” It advocates for zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; clean, affordable public transit; and high-speed rail.

In 2018 General Motors proposed a new nationwide program to promote zero-emission vehicles like the Chevy Bolt, Nissan Leaf and the Tesla and place 7 million long-range electric vehicles on the road by 2030, reducing carbon-dioxide emissions by 375 million tons. Currently China leads the world in electric-car manufacturing.

Just last week in an effort to curb carbon-dioxide emissions from transportation, the largest source of emissions in the USA, the 2019 Vehicle Emission Act was introduced into Congress.

The American Lung Association’s 2016 report said “transitioning to zero-emission vehicles would deliver $33 billion in total health and climate savings by 2050.”

Another proposal of the Green New Deal is already on Ohio’s radar. There are plans for a $1.2 million feasibility study for a hyper loop high-speed train system in Ohio. It would resemble the Deutsche Bahn high-speed rail in Germany. Many feel this is necessary if Ohio is to remain competitive in the Midwest.

The answer or rebuttal to the Green New Deal put out by Republicans was a seven-page resolution filled with mind-boggling numbers as well as unsubstantiated assertions. Oddly the only thing mentioned are cost estimates provided by conservative agencies like the American Action Forum, which claims the Green New Deal will cost $93 trillion over 10 years.

The Green New Deal explains how the USA has seen a four-decade wage stagnation, especially with hourly wage workers who have increased their productivity. The Pew Research Center points out most pay increases have gone to higher wage classes.

A new report from the Federal Reserve Board said four in 10 Americans do not have the cash to handle a $400 emergency. Our children’s generation will not be better off than our generation.

Unlike the Green New Deal, the Republican rebuttal does nothing to address wage stagnation, deindustrialization, anti-labor policies, income inequality, racial wealth divide, gender earnings gap, climate change and national security, clean air, clean water, sustainable agriculture or ecosystem resiliency.

It makes no mention of transitioning our system of government from an oligarchy back to a participatory democracy, one in which all citizens have an equal role in local, state and federal government.

The Republican rebuttal cherry picks data. It claims 573,000 birds are killed annually by wind turbines. But according to a 2018 study, “wind turbines kill between 140,000 to 328,000 birds annually.” These numbers are small when compared to the “6.8 million bird fatalities from collisions with cell and radio towers and the 1.4 billion to 3.7 billion deaths from cats.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service studies show oil pits and evaporation ponds from oil and gas operations kill between 500,000 to 1 million birds annually.

The Republican rebuttal claims wind farms cause adverse health affects, yet 25 peer-reviewed studies show wind farms do not pose a risk to human health or cause hearing loss, nausea, sleep disorders, dizziness, high blood pressure or tinnitus.

The Republican rebuttal claims solar farms incinerate thousands of birds but fails to mention only large-scale solar thermal farms, also known as concentrating solar, which generates electricity by focusing solar rays to transform a fluid into steam, can impact birds and that there are only eight of these solar thermal farms in the U.S.

The widely used residential and commercial solar photovoltaic systems are safe and do not cause bird deaths. Even the Audubon Society advocates for solar as climate change is affecting over 300 species of birds.

The Republican rebuttal claims we will need 115 million acres of land for solar. However, a peer-reviewed analysis published in the journal, Energy Policy, estimated that “the base case solar electric footprint is equal to less than 2 percent of the land dedicated to cropland and grazing in the United States and less than the current amount of land used for corn ethanol production.”

Some real data to consider when contemplating a Green New Deal is the fact we subsidize fossil fuels each year with 26 billion taxpayer dollars. The U.S. spends more on defense, $649 billion, than the next seven countries combined and has close to 800 military bases in over 70 countries. Britain, France and Russia have about 30 bases combined.

The Center for Public Integrity reported at least “60 companies’ federal tax rates amounted to zero, companies such as Amazon, Chevron, Halliburton, Eli Lily and General Motors. They were able to zero out their federal taxes on $79 billion in U.S. pretax income.”

One of those companies, First Energy, is currently urging lawmakers in Ohio to pass HB 6. This is not a clean energy bill but a bill that will force Ohio taxpayers to bail out two aging nuclear power plants.

By the turn of the century, the U.S. economy could shrink by 10 percent due to climate change. Anyway you add it up, the Green New Deal is something we cannot afford to ignore.

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