Editorial: Though aspirational, Green New Deal could spark climate change action

  • Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Democrats including veteran Markey and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York are calling for a Green New Deal intended to transform the U.S. economy to combat climate change and create jobs in renewable energy.  AP FILE PHOTO/ANDREW HARNIK

Published: 2/18/2019 8:11:41 AM

Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts has joined forces with first-time U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York in calling for a Green New Deal intended to transform the U.S. economy to combat climate change and to create thousands of jobs in renewable energy in the process.

Their plan aims to eliminate the U.S. carbon footprint by 2030 with a moonshot conversion from fossil fuels power generation to renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

For those who still don’t believe the nearly unanimous consensus of the world’s climate scientists and our own experience with extreme weather predicted by the global warming computer models, this probably doesn’t make much sense. And, if you live in a state where livelihoods rely on coal, oil and gas production, the idea of eliminating these fuels probably seems crazy and scary at the same time — even if you accept the reality of climate change.

But eventually, the effects of climate change will be crazy scary, and it’s definitely time to get serious about how to head it off and how to mitigate the changes we’ve already triggered and can’t reverse — like those more powerful hurricanes and weird temperature extremes and droughts that are fueling California wildfires.

So, while we think that the Green New Deal is more aspirational than practical at this point, we as a society and as a nation need a more powerful jolt to start addressing climate change in a specific, concrete way.

We applaud Markey and the freshman firebrand Ocasio-Cortez for leading the charge with a formal resolution that can be debated in Congress and discussed in our living rooms and boardrooms — and that perhaps allows policy makers to begin tracing the outlines of an action plan, sooner rather than later.

Eventually, everyone will have to come around. Well, not everyone, we suppose. Those with vested financial interests in the status quo — oil companies, for example — will cling to what they do until there is no other choice or until they see profit in alternative energy. And some people with no vested interest may just deny reality. After all, there is still a Flat Earth Society.

Markey predicted more Democrats — including many of the current crop of progressive presidential hopefuls — will sign on and said even some Republicans may back the non-binding resolution.

“This is now a voting issue across the country,” he said. “The green generation has risen up, and they are saying they want this issue solved as one of the top two or three issues in the 2020 election.”

The resolution sets a goal to meet “100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources,” including dramatic increases in wind and solar power.

The Green New Deal goes far beyond the Clean Power Plan proposed by former President Barack Obama, which was killed by the current administration in part because it imposed emissions limits on coal-fired power plants.

The Green New Deal is not likely to go far in Congress, as some Republicans call it delusional and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, gave it tepid acknowledgment, saying only “I welcome the Green New Deal and any other proposals” to address climate change.

We hope these Green New Dealers and their allies in the environmental movements blaze a path that the more timid — some would say practical — among us can follow.

Because we are going to have to go down that path eventually.




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