Why We Need a Green New Deal:
Just the Facts!
Written by Pervez S. Agwan | Twitter | Instagram | Author Page
This article is also available on our youtube channel as an informational video; both examine the Green New Deal with just the facts, and the objective, hard data behind this bold & transformative mobilization plan.
There is a lot of misinformation floating around on the internet about the green new deal, climate change, and the facts, so how can we better understand the data at hand, be better informed, and allow you, the reader, to make your own judgments?
Our 3 areas of focus are:
- What exactly is the Green New Deal, and what’s in it? What is it aiming to do? We’ll also touch on some of the misinformation out there.
- Why was it introduced? What are the data, and the facts behind this proposal? What is the state of our economy, our work force, and our environment?
- Finally a case for why we need it…desperately. Myself, and many others strongly believe we need ambitious, courageous, and urgent action to address the ills that plague our country, and our world. Ultimately though, we’ll present you with the high-level data, and allow you to draw your own conclusions!
“This is going to be the New Deal, the Great Society, the moon shot, the civil-rights movement of our generation.”
– Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
1) What is the Green New Deal, and what exactly is in it?
The Green New Deal was presented on the house floor in early 2019 as “House Resolution #109.” Contrary to the understanding of many, and the willful misinformation, it is not a bill, nor is it a law. It is actually just a resolution, which expresses the collective sentiment of certain members of congress on particular issues.
But what’s in a name? Let’s rewind a little bit to understand its namesake.
The original New Deal was the brave, and groundbreaking legislation enacted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933 in response to the suffocating socio-economic conditions during the Great Depression. This federal government led mobilization transformed America for many decades to come, and created the greatest middle class that the US had ever seen. It created millions of jobs, and set up popular programs such as Social Security to allow American citizens to prosper. In short, it was a massive success! Today’s Green New Deal is attempting to channel the visionary and grand nature of the original new deal, but there is so much misinformation around it – so what’s in it?
Well, there’s actually a lot to unpack in the resolution, but it is essentially a mobilization plan and set of guidelines that serve as a north star to direct future policy so that America prospers well into the future. The Green New Deal lists all of the following in the short document, but the key points of note that truly capture the essence of the resolution are:
- The need to create millions of high quality, and high paying jobs well into the future for all Americans, and a job for every person in America who wants to work
- Jobs that provide a family sustaining wage, and have retirement security
- Prosperity & economic security, for all Americans
- Grow domestic manufacturing in the United States. Goods made in the USA!
- Assist those most in need:
- The elderly
- Low-income workers
- Depopulated rural communities, & communities of color
- Move towards a carbon-free America, & combat Climate Change by:
- Eliminating greenhouse gas emissions
- Meeting 100% of power demand through clean, renewable energy
- Upgrading and repairing America’s infrastructure to meet the challenges of the 21st century
- Remove pollution & greenhouse gases from the manufacturing, and agricultural sector
- Overhaul transportation to be a near-zero emissions sector
- Provide high quality health care for all people of the United States; Clean air, water, and sustainable environments for all people of the United States, and finally
- Provide a high-quality education for all people of the US.
Now I know what you’re thinking, a lot of this sounds like common sense, and isn’t extreme at all. You’re actually right, since a majority of Americans actually support many of these policy proposals, but there is a lot of money being poured into misleading the American people about it, mostly by right-wing think tanks and large industry heavy corporations. (Please see and read these great books: Dark Money by Jane Mayer and Captured by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse)
A quick google search on the green new deal leads to tons and tons of advertisements attempting to frighten folks around the costs of such a transformation, and how it would burden the taxpayer, all of which is fear mongering. There is a massive propaganda campaign funded by right wing think tanks and policy outlets that have taken vast sums of money from fossil fuel friendly industries. Take, for example, the paid ad on google that is shown below, and is funded by the “Institute for Energy Research” – it may be seem benign at first, but their website, and their articles are full of pseudo-science and cherry-picked citations disparaging the green new deal.
Go figure, since the IER is funded by Charles Koch of Koch Industries. Many prominent Republican politicians, including former President Trump himself, have come out with outright false, and outrageous claims about the Green New Deal. Trump himself said that the Green New Deal would ban flights, and other Republican congressmen have said that milkshakes, burgers, and cars would be banned….which is clearly dishonest.
The Green New Deal is aspiring to works towards a prosperous vision for America, one where no single person is left behind, but many folks often ask: is the current situation so dire that such an audacious concept was necessary?
2) Why was it introduced? What’s the data behind it?
We’ll start with economic and wage data first, before diving into climate related data. Over the past 40 years, real wages, which are wages after accounting for inflation, have barely moved, showing that the common American barely has any more purchasing power today than they did in the 1960s; Real wages actually peaked in the 1970s! Some Americans are earning less today in real dollars than they did decades ago!
It’s quite a contrast from how productive American workers are. The chart below shows that worker productivity, and output has skyrocketed in the last 5 decades, but again, real wage growth has stagnated!
What’s equally shocking, is that the United States ranks way behind its developed peers when it comes to socio economic mobility – many Americans are finding it more difficult to build and attain true wealth, security, and generational well-being compared to citizens of countries such as Sweden, Denmark, and Norway!
As American workers have found it harder and harder to climb the ladder, provide for their families, and build generational success, over the years the top 1% of US earners steadily started taking more and more of the pie meant for the common American citizen. By 2016, the top 1% of people, or the ultra-wealthy, owned more wealth than the bottom 90%.
The wealthiest 1 percent of households own 40% of the country’s wealth!
And what about healthcare? The chart below shows that the average person in the US spends more on healthcare than in any other developed country, and it’s not even close. Healthcare is expensive in the US, and the already struggling American worker is just carrying on with the deck stacked against them.
How do common Americans actually feel about these issues, and what is it that they are seeking?
- Over 74% of Americans support a 2% wealth tax on the ultra wealthy that are undoubtedly hoarding their wealth; these funds can go to supporting investment back in our society, and its people.
- According to an overwhelming majority of polls, around 60% of Americans favor a Medicare for all or universal healthcare system, with 20% undecided, meaning only 1/5 voters oppose it.
And finally, when it comes to Climate Change, over 75% of voters are very worried about the impacts of Climate Change, and over 70% of them believe that it is an absolutely priority to cut our Greenhouse Gas emissions.
Let’s transition into the data on Climate Change. This article is focused more on the Green New Deal, but we have a separate informational video, and an article titled “Climate Change: Just the facts” that focuses more on the causes of climate change, and dives into the data of CO2 emissions, temperature changes, and sea level fluctuations.
At a high level, the United States is one of the most egregious emitters of greenhouse gases in the world, producing more than 20 times the amount of CO2 per capita than the rest of the world. The U.S. energy sector is still heavily reliant on the fossil fuel industry for both power generation, and transportation. Renewable energy only accounts for roughly 11% of the country’s primary energy consumption, whereas petroleum, natural gas, and coal account for approximately 80% of total energy consumption.
Of course, the IPCC, the United Nations’ intergovernmental panel, is forecasting global average temperatures to rise roughly 3-4 degrees Celsius by 2100. This is the likely case if humanity, and the US continue its course, with little action taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions. We’ve seen data on what the Green New deal is, what Americans are currently undergoing, and the severity of GHG, but the final section is:
3) Why do we need it? Why is it so important?
Consensus findings, and belief amongst the world’s scientific community maintain that severe weather events are expected to intensify as the earth continues to heat up, and that the forecasted impacts of climate change will be catastrophic (see our article: Why Climate Change Matters). Life-threatening droughts, severe flooding, heat waves, and large-scale wildfires will amplify in number as our biosphere rapidly changes. Millions, if not billions of people will be adversely impacted by the rapidly changing earth, and they will undoubtedly be required to move, and relocate to places where the earth’s resources can sustain them, thus creating millions, and potentially even billions of human beings on this earth who will indisputably become climate refugees. We have a separate video titled “Why Climate Change Matters” that dives deeper into the severe and tragic impacts of climate change, and continuing to pollute our earth with more greenhouse gases than it was designed for.
America has fallen behind its peer countries in almost every single way in many measurable quality of life indices. We’re not even living as long as folks in other developed countries, as the chart below shows.
Ultimately, we Americans have to dig deep down, and introspectively and ask ourselves:
- What kind of country do we want to create for future generations to come?
- What kind of planet do we want?
- Who do we want to be as citizens of the US, and of the earth? Do we want to be people who only look after our own needs, or will we be focused on how our actions impact our fellow citizens?
We must, as a collective society, be brave enough, bold enough, and sincere enough to fight for meaningful, societal change. When our kids, our grandkids, and those in future generations ask us what we did to save our one and only planet, I hope that we don’t carry the shame of saying that we didn’t do enough, and I hope that we can say that we did everything we could.
The responsibility of being caretakers for this earth falls upon us, and it is our duty as one collective humanity to come together to solve this climate crisis, as well as the tackle ills of inequality, greed, & corruption that plague our society. It is important to have a heart that feels for others, and put yourself in the shoes of those who are less fortunate than us, who will be disproportionately impacted.
This is our home, this is our country, this is our planet, and there is no planet B.
Thanks for reading everyone, and I will leave you with the quote below to end by Nelson Mandela from the “Make Poverty History” campaign – may he rest in peace.
“Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”
– Nelson Mandela