By: Joy Dong
During the 18th century, scientists began conducting experiments that showed the effects of man-made gases, specifically carbon-dioxide, on the earth’s atmosphere. They noticed how it was trapped in the air and formed a “covering” made out of gas, insulating the earth. Following these observations, in the mid-1900s, scientists used CO2 readings to find more evidence supporting the climate change theory, convincing some in the field to see its importance. But, it wasn’t until the theory was proved factual by a great deal of data that scientists started taking global warming seriously, and began to inform the public. Fast-forward about 100-200 years, we are already beginning to see the massive impacts of a warming earth; and even more consequences are to come, scientists and climate activists warn. These warnings were amplified after the 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) meeting, bringing together the most accomplished climatologists from across the world. In the meeting, they changed the safest global temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius, instead of 2 degrees, which is what they thought before. The result of rising above the mark would include mass extinction of different species, excessive droughts, devastating wildfires, warming oceans, rising sea levels, mass migration, trillions of dollars, millions of lives, and a collapse of the entire ecosystem and environment. This announcement induced panic because with the world’s current fossil fuel and greenhouse gas emission rate, keeping global temperatures low enough is downright impossible. Scientists and climatologists are treating this with severe urgency, but politicians certainly aren’t; except Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey. They put together a congressional resolution to tackle climate change, healthcare, jobs, and education all at once.
The Green New Deal (GND) is a fourteen-page resolution that outlines a ten-year plan for the US to follow in order to help solve the climate crisis. The intent of the GND is to transition off fossil fuels and onto a system based on 100% renewable energy; and in the process, providing new high-wage jobs and a brand-new economy. By cutting fossil fuels entirely, the amount of greenhouse gas (carbon-dioxide, methane, fluoridated gases, nitrous oxide) emissions will drop dramatically, which will in turn help stop the global human effects on the climate and earth. This is because the US has a large effect on the global temperature, being the second-largest carbon contributor. If the US stops contributing to greenhouse gas emissions in the next 10-15 years, we have a chance to keep the global temperature below 1.5 degrees Celsius, which would be implausible with fossil fuels. Changing to renewable energy would help prevent the mass destruction to come from climate change, and would save future generations. Although the result of dropping fossil fuels would be extremely rewarding, the task would also be extremely difficult. The US is solely reliant on fossil fuels; a cheap, reliable, easily transported, abundant, source of energy that we have been using for centuries. They make us an estimated 20 billion dollars annually; provide thousands of people work, healthcare, food, and housing; and, they supply almost 70% of our energy. Cutting them will be a large and risky sacrifice, so the last several pages of the resolution detail a procedure the US would follow to help American workers shift into the new system. This includes providing a high-wage job for all transitioning workers, education and preparation for new jobs, public employment, and healthcare for all people. This will protect workers until the adjustment is completed, to make sure that people will be able to survive the change. Speaking of change, what would happen if the Green New Deal is enacted as a bill?
The Green New Deal expects the US to build new products and structures to supply the country with renewable energy. These products would create energy from water, wind, the sun, plants, animals, and the earth’s subsurface heat. Houses would be powered by solar panels; and electricity would be generated by wind turbines, hydropower (waterfalls, etc.), and biomass energy (corn, soy, burned). There would be no more factories or power plants, and only wind turbine farms and renewable energy manufacturing for production. Thousands of people will be employed in the renewable energy industry, which would be the bases for a new economy. In fact, because of the agenda to create more jobs the Green New Deal was named after President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” which helped employ around 20 million people and built a stable economy after the Great Depression. Next, transportation would change. Instead of driving cars powered by gasoline, we would all use battery powered cars. They would be much like the current Tesla cars, but they would be much more common. And, there would be only electric trains, transporting people without engines. Also, for food, produce would be bought and farmed locally, not shipped from places elsewhere. These are just a few of adjustments that would come from the GND, but there are many more. The entire US system would be completely different, fossil fuels entirely replaced. There would be massive change, changes to things we do daily, and it would be difficult; but, nonetheless, it has to be done, to save us, Gen Z, and to save the next generations to come.