Posted by: ericgrimsrud | March 5, 2019

Initial thoughts concerning the Green New Deal

I applaud the GND movement for the attention it is generating on the subject of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) and for the sense of urgency it conveys in addressing it. Given the magnitude of the problem, any successful plan might, indeed, require the extraordinarily rapid changes that the GND recommends. We don’t really know for sure yet how rapidly the ravages of AGW will unfold and it will be better to error on the conservative side. At the same time, however, there are two specific aspects of the plan that I fear might lead to a failure of the GND at its very onset. If so, that failure might then also damage other, alternate plans that might follow.

So, what are the potential show-stoppers of the GND as it now exists? One is that in its most aggressive form, its proposed time frame for bringing all CO2 emissions of the USA to zero is 2030, just eleven years hence. Very few knowledgeable scientists and policy makers are likely to consider this time-line to be possible. So far, our scientific leaders have been challenged to envision how the world can get to zero emissions by 2050, 31 years hence. The sad fact is that over the last 150 years mankind has dug itself into a hole that is very possibly much deeper than the GND acknowledges. From now going forward, we must address the problem with complete honesty and not just wishful optimism.

Another potential problem with the GND, as it presently exists, is that it also includes various social issues, such as universal health care and guarantied federal jobs. This is a huge mistake. The climate change problem, all be itself, will challenge us to our limits and should be placed front and center all by itself. We should not share that spotlight with other ongoing issues even if the others are meritorious and long-overdue. Immediate action on the AGW problem is of paramount importance. We will have the time and inclination to address other issues either sooner or later – but only if the big one is being successfully addressed. Just as there would be little point in replacing the windows of your home if the house itself was on fire.

In a world warmer than 2 degrees C, organized efforts and even organized civilizations, as we know them today, are likely to no longer exist. Due to what we have already done to our atmosphere, we are already half way to that 2 degree C limit. In addition, it should be noted that many scientists believe that the exceedingly dangerous temperature limit that we must not exceed is closer to 1.5 degrees C than 2.0.

Our next swing at this approaching fast ball might very well be our last. So, for the sake of your children, grandchildren and all of our other descendants that manage to be born prior to the onset of uninhabitable conditions on this planet, please pay very close attention to the plans presently being formulated for the stabilization of our planet’s temperature. For starters, I believe that the GND should be modified as suggested here so that it has a snowball’s chance of public acceptance in our rapidly warming world.


Responses

  1. Eric, I would like to recommend a YouTube video by Democracy Now in which Greta Thunborg is interviewed. I found it both charming and fascinating. Of course, today there were demonstrations on 7 continents (also Antarctica) inspired by her lone vigil outside the Swedish Parliament. J

    • Jan, Many thanks for the reference to Greta Thunberg. (are all Swedish kids that smart!!) A speech by her is now highlighted in my latest post. She is indeed a gem!! Eric


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