By Vivian Ealy
As global temperatures rise, the debate surrounding climate change becomes a more divisive topic of discussion, especially in the political arena. This dispute is due to the fact that climate change is closely related to the energy policy; certain politicians advocate for the use of fossil fuels like oil, natural gas, and coal while others argue that we should begin to rely on greener sources such as wind and solar power. In favor of the latter, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) of New York and Senator Edward Markey of Massachusetts recently proposed a Green New Deal in an attempt to tackle certain problems such as climate change and other societal issues. This deal has become extremely controversial, not only in politics, but also throughout everyday life. The deal has created conversation addressing the consequences of climate change which is why it is absolutely necessary for the improvement of the environment.
A Green New Deal is not a new concept. According to the New York Times, the idea has actually been around for years; think tanks, the Green party, and even reporter Thomas Friedman of the New York Times all have had plans for tackling climate change they labeled the Green New Deal. It has only now become more popularized due to a youth activist group who held a sit-in outside of Nancy Pelosi’s office after the 2018 midterm elections to demand action on climate change; AOC lent her support and eventually set the groundwork for the plan. Specifically, she aims to wean the United States off the use of fossil fuels and reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our planet. She also plans to address certain social problems that have been intensified by climate change.
Solving the problems AOC plans to address in the Green New Deal is vital for the health of our world and advancement of our economy. As a young student, I am extremely concerned about the condition of the environment and how that will affect my generation in the future. According to Ecotricity, our current coal deposits are estimated to run out in about 150 years and, even sooner, oil deposits and gas reserves in about 50 years. These awakening statistics show just how essential it is to curb the use of fossil fuels and begin to shift over to using greener sources of power.
The Green New Deal also addresses the fact that climate change and inequality are inextricably linked. Systemic injustices already exist in our society such as stagnant wages and jobs becoming deadened as corporate polluters, such as Peabody energy and NRG energy, and billionaires become richer. According to the Sierra Club, hard-hit communities are affected more drastically by storms, droughts, and flooding as they do not have the same access to resources necessary in order to adjust and cope. The deal proposes more jobs with higher wages, which would serve working class families and communities of color who suffer the most from the fossil fuel economy; communities of color suffer the most from an unbalanced exposure to dangerous toxins. Bartees Cox from Quartz mentions that more than half of those living near hazardous waste sites are people of color and that black Americans are three times more likely to die from exposure to air pollutants than their white counterparts. AOC proposes increased wages and new jobs in her deal that would benefit these communities.
Although the Green New Deal proposes many changes that would be significantly beneficial, the cost is the crux of the problem for the plan. With the deal, our energy system would be completely revitalized, our infrastructure upgraded, and our ecosystems restored. These changes would completely redefine and improve our economy, however, we would need to find a way to fund it. According to Noah Smith from Bloomberg, the most expensive items with the deal would be creating jobs with high wages and good benefits, high-quality education for everyone, and accessible health care. It is estimated that this deal will cost about $6.6 trillion dollars a year which is more than three times as much as the federal government collects in tax revenue. One solution AOC proposes is a higher tax on the wealthy, which will not necessarily generate as much money as needed. The estimated cost for this deal is an unrealistic amount of money to generate which is why it is so controversial. The cost of the deal makes it so that it will most likely not be executed, however, it is an important introduction to the future of greener energy sources.
Although flawed, the Green New Deal is necessary when discussing the state of the environment. It has created an immense amount of debate whether it will work and how it would even be executed. It is an extremely expensive and unrealistic plan, however, it has sparked conversation about climate change and its social impact. This conversation has the ability to generate new ideas and revise this deal. Changes need to be made regarding the environment and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is just the beginning.