Peter Cavanaugh

Defending the Green New Deal

Bill Atwood’s disparaging take on today’s Democratic party was quite curious, but shortsighted. Here is another perspective to consider.

He cites that the Green New Deal will cost $95 trillion. The actual estimate from the American Action Forum, a center right think tank, is between $51 to $93 trillion. Politifact has rated these numbers false, but let’s go with it. Whatever it is, there’s no doubt there will be a cost, but what is the cost of not doing the Green New Deal. When solving problems you don’t just look at the cost of the solution, you also consider the benefits. Does the benefit outweigh the cost?

We are already seeing the devastation from increasing frequency and intensity of natural disasters (fires, tornados, hurricanes, floods, mud slides). According to NOAA, the 2017 cost was $301B. Add to it the cost of loss of homes, businesses, of revenues, loss of jobs, loss of healthcare from not having a job, deaths of loved ones (362 in 2017), family disruption, and homelessness. What is the price of that? These are just the direct effects of natural disasters. Other effects of climate change are heat-related deaths (look at the heat map of the U.S.), coastal property losses, lost wages in outdoor industries, deaths related to bad air quality, infrastructure damages, plummeting real estate value, destruction of financial centers, reduction of land mass, rising insurance rates and uninsurable properties. It just goes on and on.

Can you imagine the economic loss you would sustain if your house were flooded permanently? Now imagine the economic loss of the country when both coasts are under water by a few feet. Even the false cost of $93 trillion is beginning to look like a bargain.

What else does the Green New Deal bring to the table? Besides preventing the devastation described, it jump-starts economic growth. Fortune magazine says wind and solar is creating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. The plan for “green” buildings is to retrofit existing buildings with conservation and renewable energy technologies and require that new buildings be built that way. It is NOT the fear-mongering lie that all buildings will be torn down.

No one is eliminating air travel and all fossil fuels as though one day you will wake up and you can’t fly or drive as suggested by Bill. Because of fuel efficiency standards, today’s planes and cars use far less fuel, which translates to money in your pocket and cleaner air. Imagine if we still drive 10-mpg cars at today’s gas prices. “The Deal” also supports electric cars, which costs less to operate. There is much more to “The Deal” but the bottom line is that it creates not just jobs, jobs, jobs but great-paying jobs while cleaning the environment and reducing health care costs.

America is losing its technological leadership and economic dominance. China is closing in. The Green New Deal will not only mitigate disasters but also advance our technological leadership and stem China’s march to overtake the U.S. economy.

There have been three industrial revolutions (the Age of Mechanical Production; the Age of Science and Mass Production; The Digital Revolution). We are on the cusp of the fourth industrial revolution (which includes the Green economy) but some want to hold us back with fear tactics. Historically that like-minded group used the same tactics to resist the previous three revolutions. Progress can’t be stopped. Today we don’t have the luxury of time to let it play out on its own terms. It must be accelerated for the sake of your children, grandchildren and all their descendants.

The myopic view of why we can’t do something is not what made America great.