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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/17/19

Bill McKibben: Climate Change Is Scary -- Not the Green New Deal

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From Yes Magazine

It's very clear that conservatives have one plan for dealing with the popularity of the Green New Deal: scaring the hell out of people.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats discuss the .Green New Deal,. a proposed program to address climate change and create jobs.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other Democrats discuss the .Green New Deal,. a proposed program to address climate change and create jobs.
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Myron Ebell of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute, the man who led the drive to pull America out of the Paris climate accords, said the other day that the Green New Deal was a "back-to-the-dark-ages manifesto." That's language worth thinking about, coming from perhaps the Right's most influential spokesman on climate change.

Ebell's complaint (and that of the rest of the Right) is that the set of proposals to address climate change and economic inequality put forth last week by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey would do too much, and cost too much. Indeed, he describes the Green New Deal this way: "It calls for net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in 10 years, 'upgrading all existing buildings', and replacing our vehicle fleet with electric cars and more mass transit. And turning our energy economy upside down must be accomplished while ending historic income inequities and oppression of disadvantaged groups." All of which sounds good not just to me, but to most people: Polling for the Green New Deal is through the roof, especially among young people so ably organized by the Sunrise Movement.

But even if ending historic oppression doesn't catch your fancy, it's not a return to the Dark Ages.

A return to the Dark Ages is what happened in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit: Survivors dying in the convention center of a modern American city, locals organizing a makeshift "navy" to try to pluck people from rooftops after levees collapsed.

A return to the Dark Ages is what happened in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, when most of the island was literally dark for months as workers struggled to rebuild power lines.

A return to the Dark Ages is what happened in California last fall, when old people burned to death in their cars while stuck in traffic jams trying to flee deadly wildfires.

And that's just the United States. Around the world now we're seeing climate change help ignite diabolical civil war in places like Syria, where the fiercest drought in the history of what we used to call the Fertile Crescent has driven millions of farmers off their land. We're watching the rapid spread of diseases such as zika via the wings of insects whose range expands as climate warms. Studies have demonstrated that, after years of decline, starvation and child labor are now on the rise as the result of climate stress.

That's what a modern Dark Ages looks like.

What the future looks like is electric cars, to use one of Ebell's examples. They outperform internal combustion vehicles by every metric: They move more nimbly, they cost less to own and operate, they break down less often because there are fewer moving parts.

What the future looks like is mass transit. Visit Europe and ride on the trains for a few days and then explain how much more modern it is to sit in traffic jams in American exurbia.

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Bill McKibben is the author of a dozen books, including The End of Nature and Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. A former staff writer for The New Yorker, he writes regularly for Harper's, The Atlantic Monthly, and The (more...)
 
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