Chances are you’ve heard at least something about the Green New Deal. The bill proposed by Democrats Ed Markey and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has garnered plenty of attention from the media over the past month.
With the 2020 elections looming, coverage has been focused more on what it means for presidential hopefuls than the policy itself. No one seems to be taking it seriously. Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it a “green dream.” But should we be taking it seriously?
The deal in itself is quite ambitious, proposing a goal to get to net-zero carbon emissions, as well as create millions of jobs and improve infrastructure by the year 2050 or sooner. Being a nonbinding resolution, it only lays down suggestions on how to achieve this, not concrete policy, leaving room for debate. (So no, it won’t get rid of cows, airplanes, and the military like President Trump tweeted earlier this year.)
As radical as it may sound to some, this is a bill that should not be laughed at, as it may be one of our best chances to prevent future economic damage.
The Green New Deal may not seem very realistic, but it is very necessary. We’ve all heard that global warming is killing the environment, but a lesser known narrative is that it is killing our economy.
The Fourth National Climate Assessment, published in November of 2018, estimated that global warming will cost the United States as much as four percent of its GDP per year in damages by 2080. Already, the government has lost $350 billion in tax payer money due to climate change, and that number could easily be in the tens of trillions by 2080.
Another independent study, this one by Stanford, put the effects of climate change on the world economy as high as 20 percent, with the damages mainly coming in developing countries already located in tropical climates. And with Trump’s affinity for undoing previous progress against climate change, the next reports could look even bleaker.
The Green New Deal, in contrast, would cost much less in the long run and would prevent much of this damage from ever occurring. While the yearly price tag will surely be incredibly hefty now, the losses accrued now preventing climate change would be pocket change compared to the potential future losses (since the deal is not a definitive set of policies, accurate estimates are not available).
All of that being said, the Green New Deal does have some flaws. Democrats really don’t have an idea what it will look like, and some of their proposals might hurt the bill rather than help it. The goals of providing universal healthcare, along with a job guarantee, are certain to make even climate-conscious Republicans opposed to it.
If Democrats want this bill to go anywhere, and it needs to, they must separate other political ambitions from their proposal.
Should you support the Green New Deal? Absolutely. Behind all the political motivation is a bold and necessary plan to preserve both a healthy environment and a healthy economy for future generations.
The price that will have to be paid now will be well worth the knowledge we did everything in our power to provide a stable country our kids can flourish in. The Green New Deal isn’t just a dream: it’s a reality that could save our planet.