Archive for the ‘Green New Deal’ Category

The USA could use a disaster response corps

April 2, 2019

Click to enlarge. Source: Climate.gov.

Click to enlarge. Source: Climate.gov.

Cutting greenhouse gas emissions down to zero is not enough.  Any Green New Deal needs a disaster relief component, because climate change is already bringing floods, fires and other emergencies.

The United States needs a Disaster Response Corps, organized along the lines of the original New Deal’s Civilian Conservation Corps, to deal with climate emergencies.  Like the CCC, it also would be a jobs program.

Right now disaster response is the responsibility of state and local governments, and non-profit organizations.  The federal government’s role is limited to coordination and providing financial aid.

Commonly volunteer groups, such as the Cajun Navy or Occupy Sandy, have to step in when organized relief efforts fail.

The outlook is for more and worse climate- and weather-related disasters.  It won’t be just fires and floods.  As droughts become worse, we can expect internal climate refugees, like the “okies” who were driven off the land during the Dust Bowl disaster in the 1930s.

My idea is that virtually anyone would be able to enlist in the Disaster Relief Corps for a fixed amount of time.  Enlistees would agree to accept military-type discipline and go where they’re sent.  The time between emergencies would be spent in training or maybe taking on some of the tasks of the 1930s CCC..

Pay would be comparable, in inflation-adjusted terms, to what CCC workers or enlisted soldiers got in the 1930s.  Enlistees could be discharged for misconduct, neglect of duty or refusal to follow orders.

The Corps’ mission should not be assigned to the military.  The military is for warriors; the Corps would be for rescuers.

It would be tricky to set it up in a way that didn’t undermine existing efforts, programs and volunteer efforts, but I think it could be done.

Maybe in time the U.S. could help fund a United Nations International Disaster Relief Corps.  There would be plenty of work for it to do.

Climate change is already upon us.  Cutting back in greenhouse gasses will limit how much worse it gets, but that won’t make it go away.  We have to deal with what’s already happening.

LINKS

U.S. Disaster Relief at Home and Abroad by Rocio Cara Labrador for the Council on Foreign Relations.

34 Disaster Relief Organizations, a list by Raptim Humanitarian Travel.  They’re doing good work.  But should they be expected to do it all?

The needed radicalism of the Green New Deal

March 22, 2019

The Green New Deal resolution of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Edward Markey is more radical and far-reaching than Franklin D. Roosevelt’s original New Deal.

The non-binding resolution calls for a mass mobilization of American government and society against catastrophic climate change, on a scale as great or even greater than mobilization to fight World War Two.

The mobilization Ocasio-Cortez and Markey call for would mean a closing down or drastic shrinkage of industries that depend on fossil fuels.  This would be a threat not only to the profits of powerful vested interests, but to the livelihoods of millions of good, hard-working people.   

That is why the Green New Deal is also a deal.  It includes social reform and a job creation program  to get buy-in from working people and minorities, who might otherwise

There are two problems with the resolution.  One is that it is too radical to gain political acceptance anytime soon.  The other is that, radical as it is, its proposals may not be enough to deal with the crisis.

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If you read my previous post or the text of the resolution, you’ll see that it is largely a wish list of the environmental and labor movements for the past 20 or so years.  Getting these movements on the same page would be a big accomplishment, because they haven’t always been friends.

The environmental movement has sometimes worked to the benefit of the well-to-do, such as subsidies for electric cars and solar panels, while putting the burden of change on the less-well-off, with higher gasoline and fuel prices.  The labor movement has sometimes accepted the argument that it is necessary to sacrifice health, safety and the environment just to protect jobs.

Working people have good reason to be suspicious of promises that, if they give up what they have, they’ll be given something else just as good or better.  This was the promise of NAFTA and the other trade agreements under the Clinton administration and after—that the loss of grungy industrial jobs will be offset by new bright, shiny high-tech jobs.  This didn’t happen.

An expression that occurs repeatedly in the resolution is “vulnerable and frontline communities.”  This refers to the communities left behind by de-industrialization and globalization during the past 30 years.  It also refers to the communities that will bear the brunt of climate change—usually poorer, often minorities, such as the people left stranded in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrine.  The resolution promises they won’t be left behind this time.

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What the Green New Deal proposes

March 22, 2019

ADDED 3/24/2019.  I MADE A BIG MISTAKE HERE.  THIS IS THE DRAFT PROPOSAL BY ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ, NOT THE VERSION THAT WAS ACTUALLY INTRODUCED.

The Green New Deal resolution introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey proposes to address a climate change crisis and a social-economic crisis.  Here’s a quick summary of what they specifically propose.

  • Build infrastructure to create resiliency against climate change-related disasters
  • Repair and upgrade U.S. infrastructure, including ensuring universal access to clean water.
  • Meet 100% of power demand through clean and renewable energy sources
  • Build energy-efficient, distributed smart grids and ensure affordable access to electricity
  • Upgrade or replace every building in US for state-of-the-art energy efficiency
  • Massively expand clean manufacturing (such as solar panel factories, wind turbine factories, battery and storage manufacturing, energy-efficient manufacturing components) and remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing “as much as is technically feasible.”
  • Work with farmers and ranchers to create a sustainable, pollution and greenhouse gas-free, food system that ensures universal access to healthy food and expands independent family farming.
  • Totally overhaul transportation by massively expanding electric vehicle manufacturing, build charging stations everywhere, build high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becomes unnecessary and create affordable public transit available to all, with the goal of replacing every combustion-engine vehicle.
  • Mitigate long-term health effects of climate change and pollution
  • Remove greenhouse gases from our atmosphere and pollution through afforestation, preservation and other methods of restoring our natural ecosystems
  • Restore all our damaged and threatened ecosystems
  • Clean up all the existing hazardous waste sites and abandoned sites, identify new emission sources and create solutions to eliminate those emissions
  • Make the US the leader in addressing climate change and share our technology, expertise and products with the rest of the world to bring about a global Green New Deal.

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