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Improve the Green New Deal: Eliminate its Massive Growth and Neoliberalism

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Improve the Green New Deal: Eliminate its Massive Growth and Neoliberalism

Podcast Summary: The biggest problem is infinite growth, not fossil fuels. We can create more jobs by reducing the work week with zero intensification of labor. This is a transcription of a podcast in which two long-time environmentalists (Don Fitz and Stan Cox) show how the Green New Deal (GND) can be improved by limiting, not massively expanding, the growth of the economy and by reducing the neoliberal components of the GND. Neoliberalism means you solve problems by turning everything over to private corporations whenever possible instead of encouraging the government to play an active role.

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Here is the link to the 49-minute podcast: Dan Young Interviews Don Fitz and Stan Cox

Dan Young: This is Dan Young and today I'm going to be speaking [separately] to two long-time environmental activists and writers about the Green New Deal (GND). In early February 2019, freshman New York Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (AOC) introduced House Resolution 109 titled "Recognizing the Duty of the Federal Government to Create a Green New Deal." 89 other Democratic Congresspeople have signed on to co-sponsor the bill, which seeks to simultaneously turn the tide on American carbon emissions while also uplifting millions from poverty and providing greater economic security nationwide. The concept of a Green New Deal dates back at least as far as 2008 when the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) commissioned a report in response to what it said were global crises that year in the areas of food, security, fuel, and financial markets. The Global Green New Deal Report was released in 2009 for the United Nations Environment Programme's Green Economy Initiative.

In the ensuing decades, different proposals for a GND have been put out by Green parties in Europe and the U.S. as well as by other environmental advocates. But many versions of the GND, including House Resolution 109, share a component that concerns some environmentalists. Most GND proposals are based on an assumption that economic and industrial production must significantly expand in both the U.S. and globally. House Resolution 109 calls for significant growth in U.S. manufacturing. AOC's office says the goal of the GND is a "gigantic expansion of our productive economy," which would also require "building new industries at a rapid pace."

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Economic and industrial growth usually requires resource extraction and habitat loss leading to mass extinction of organisms, destruction of unique ecosystems, and the depletion of non-renewable resources. This is why some environmentalists are critical of economic and industrial growth, including the growth called for in the Green New Deal. Today I will talk about this situation with two environmental activists and writers who have worked on these issues for years.

This is Dan Young and I'm going to be speaking with Don Fitz about the GND. Don is from St. Louis, Missouri, where he has taught Environmental Psychology at Washington University and Fontbonne University as well as other psychology courses at colleges and universities in the St. Louis area. Don has also been involved in Green Party politics in Missouri, and in recent years he has run for both governor and state auditor on the Green Party, USA ticket.

Don has also written on a variety of environmental issues for publications including the St Louis Post Dispatch, the Houston Chronicle, Telesur, Z Magazine, Alternet, and CounterPunch, I first discovered Don Fitz and his environmental writings when I was researching online for articles that contained critical analysis from an ecological and environmentalist perspective of GND proposals. I came upon a 2014 article by Don at the website Climate and Capitalism. It was titled "How Green is the Green New Deal?" That article was also published by CounterPunch. The 2014 article by Don provides a history and critical analysis of different GND proposals developed in America and Europe since the start of the 2008 global recession. So thanks for speaking with me today, Don.

Don Fitz: Oh, thanks a lot for having me on.

Dan Young: So, why don't you give a brief overview of how you got involved in environmental writing and activism.

Don Fitz: Well, I have been involved in social justice issues ever since I was 17 or 18. First opposing the Vietnam War. Then supporting union rights. Then against apartheid in South Africa, and racism in the United States--all sorts of civil rights issues. And so it was just a natural for me when I started hearing about the Green Party to get involved in things like stopping incinerators and all sorts of toxic production.

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Dan Young: So why don't you talk about how you came to write that 2014 article on "How Green is the New Deal."

(4:29) Don Fitz: For me there is one overriding issue that has preoccupied my life for the last 20 years at least. And that is the fact that you can fight just about every environmental battle--there might be some exceptions--but in the overwhelming majority [of cases] you can fight with a two word slogan and that is "Stop it!" I noticed that in one environmental issue that I was involved in after another, there was some corporation that what we wanted them to do was to just stop what they were doing.

And by the early 2000s I realized that there was a problem with the production of everything. It's not just that bad things are being produced, but things are being produced to fall apart more rapidly. I'm 70 years old, and I can remember that the things I bought in the 1960s and 1970s would basically last forever, but they tare now no longer manufactured. Electronic parts are [now] designed to fall apart in a few months or at most in a year or two. So I (5:33) realized that you can't produce all the components of a cell phone and everything else and design them to go out of style and have all of these chemical elements that go into them and not be polluting the earth at the time that they are thrown away or dismantled. So when I heard about the GND I started to read about it and I realized that it is a program to expand production, not to decrease production.

Dan Young: Let me interject here. When you talk about the GND that you heard about that is prior to this 2014 article that you wrote, what is the context of who was generating the GND at that point?

(6:20) Don Fitz: Well, a lot of people today act like Alexandria Casio Cortez wrote the GND, and then some of the critics of that say, no, it was actually the Green Party of the U.S. that wrote it. And neither one of those is correct. The GND was actually [first] developed in the early 2000s by international financial policies such as that of the International Monetary Fund and several other financial groups. The Green New Deal originated in Europe as a way to expand capitalism and to expand the production of what they called "environmental" things. I realized that the GND that was adopted by the Green parties in Europe, and then later by the Green Party of the U.S., was not an environmental program at all. It was a very destructive program to expand production (7:13).

Dan Young: Was this something that developed prior to the global recession starting in 2008 or after that?

Don Fitz: It was in 2008 that it was written as a U.N. plan for the GND. When people realized that the traditional ways to expand production were not going to work anymore, they had to come up with new ways to expand production. And so they came up with the idea of painting everything green. And that's what it was. Environmentalism was rising very much in the early 2000s, and so they said let's paint everything green, call it green, and then we will have a way to expand production. (7:58)

People often say we need to increase production to increase jobs. Well, no, if you look at the U.S. from roughly 1900-2000, there is 300-fold increase [in production] and you didn't have a 300-fold increase in jobs; there was just a production of more and more stuff. Roughly at the time that Woodrow Wilson was in office, or a little bit after, between WWI and WWII, a lot of the big financial institutions and big corporations realized that for the first time in the history of the world you could produce enough for everybody to have their needs met. And so there was a conscious design to start producing things that would fall apart because they would have to be replaced. And of course by WWII we were shifting over to everybody having a car, instead of some people having a car. And so it was very easy to design cars to fall apart. (8:59) And so that's basically what happened--an intentional desire to force the increased production because the basics of life were already available to people between the two world wars.

Dan Young: Through planned obsolescence. That's what they sometimes call it.

Don Fitz: Planned obsolescence. And now it is absolutely massive. It's everywhere.

Dan Young: So you would say that from what you have seen from AOC's version that it is continuing the Green capitalist model of the GND?

Don Fitz: Absolutely, the GND is basically a form of neoliberalism. And, of course, neoliberalism means you don't solve problems by the government doing things, or people collectively solving problems (9:48). Neoliberalism is turning everything over to private corporations. You don't improve public schools. You turn them over to charter schools. You don't improve the post office. You destroy the post office by helping UPS and every other corporation. You get rid of everything the government does. Well, AOC's plan is to basically privatize, or turn everything over to the market for improving the environment. That's ridiculous. The problem is that the economy is too massive, and the GND wants to make it (10:20) even more massive. And that is not going to solve any problems whatsoever.

(10:27) Dan Young: A lot of people would disagree with you since a lot of this particular GND is about expanding government-run entitlements and social programs.

Don Fitz: Yes, it does include some of these, but when you are talking about how these things are going to happen, all of these things are going to be privatized. If you read different versions of the GND (such as the one by the Green Party), it basically says we're going to expand energy, but without nuclear power. But when you read people who are part of the Democratic Party, one of the big problems is that when they talk about clean energy or renewable energy, what's included in that is nuclear power, waste incineration, medical incineration, wood burning, dams--all of these things are incredibly environmentally destructive.

Basically what we need to do to deal with energy is to realize that there needs to be a lot less production. We need production for the necessities and things that last. We need to produce things that people actually need in order to have a better life. And that is the way to use less energy. The GND never ever says, "We will use less energy. It says, "We want to use Green energy."

(12:03) Dan Young: So the idea is that you have a different GND that would be about providing a better life for everyone, or a decent, if materially stripped-down life for everyone. How would you do that while decreasing energy and reducing our environmental footprint? How would you outline the major social and political reforms needed?

Don Fitz: Well, the first thing I would do is advocate a shorter work week because obviously a lot of the production that goes into the GND they say is needed to give people jobs. I say no, if people don't have jobs, we need to have a shorter work week. The other thing is unions need to be a big part of this because everytime there is a shorter work week gained what happens is--it's called "Capitalism intensifying the labor process." This means you are forced to work harder-to produce more stuff in a briefer amount of time. A good example is teachers. They say oh sure we'll give you a shorter work week, and then every teacher will have more kids in the classroom. No, we need to deal with any unemployment problems by having a shorter work week with zero intensification of labor. That's not going to happen by businesses having a good heart. That will happen through strong unions fighting for that.

(13:25) The other thing that we do need a government for is for the government to intervene a lot to deal with production standards. We have some safety standards, but every administration likes to weaken and water them down. We need to have standards where everything is produced to its maximum life expectancy. It is ridiculous for people to go out and get a new car every 5 years. Cars should last well over 200,000 miles. And the other thing the government needs to do in cooperation with communities is to stop producing the things we do not need. Every community in the U.S. can be turned into a social community where people have the things they need without driving a car. Cars should not be used for more than 20 percent of the trips we make. What happens in an automobile economy (I grew up when there was much fewer cars) is that everyone in the family over 18 needs a car to get by.

We need to bring back having local stores where people buy things within walking or bicycling distance. So there needs to be a massive urban redesign. This is different from the GND. The GND does not want urban redesign of existing buildings. It wants to build new buildings. It doesn't advocate fewer cars on the road. It wants to have more cars on the road that are run by electricity, as if that is an improvement. And that's no improvement. You could come up with example after example of how the GND contradicts the direction the economy really needs to go in order to have a better quality of life while using less energy.

(15:25) Dan Young: It seems like the GND document is a wish list.

Don Fitz: Basically that wish list is a good wish list, it's just that the GND won't get us there.

Dan Young: And the underlying way they are going to get us there is a massive increase in production which is unclear if it is even possible to achieve. Even if they can meet their carbon reduction goals, it will have a major impact on other issues like the loss of arable land, loss of water, the depletion of resources.

Don Fitz: Well, everything you said about environmental destruction is absolutely true because whether you produce gasoline-powered cars or electric cars--it takes massive amounts of water to produce the component parts of the car. We already have rivers in the U.S. and other parts of the world that now don't even reach the ocean or the sea because the water is taken out. The idea that you can double or triple or increase a thousand-fold the amount of car production and not influence water is not taking important matters into account. (16:41)

The other thing about increasing production is that everytime you increase production, you increase species extinction. Climate change is a real crisis, but so is species extinction. When you destroy the species of the earth, it is only a matter of time before man as a species is extinguished.

Dan Young: What you're reading in these GNDs, can they actually have an effect on carbon even while they're still pushing disaster down the road?

Don Fitz: That's not going to happen. There are some articles that say that you can go to a completely carbon-free economy in 10 or 15 years. If that is your goal, you will have to maintain the current class distinctions inside of the U.S. and maintain the class distinctions between the rich countries and the poor countries of the world. Because if you were to double the production in the U.S. just to eliminate the class distinctions, that would be enormous. The U.S. with 5 percent of the world's population has 20 percent of the world's consumption. If you are going to bring up the levels of of consumption in Latin America, Africa, and Asia to the U.S. level of consumption, you are going to multiply production by another factor of 5. Well, they do not take these things into account.

What happens if we were to get rid of fossil fuel production? The U.S. and Europe would immediately go into the Sahara Desert to blanket the whole thing with sun farms. Any countries who live there would find that the red, white, and blue army for oil production marches out and the Green army for solar production marches in. The same thing with wind production.

The GND, since it is done in a neoliberal framework which wants to have corporations making money out of all of this, it is inevitable that, were it to be carried out, would just help the U.S. military to be used for a different purpose than what it is now being used for today.

As I read about the GND, it is always expressing that we need to build things up just like we did during WWII or with the space race. They want to upgrade or replace every building in the U.S. for state-of-the-art energy, but there is nothing that uses more energy than cement and steel. These are incredibly energy-intensive productions. So when you start talking about building large quantities of new buildings, you really have problems. This will increase [the use of] fossil fuels enormously. They want to expand electric vehicle manufacturing. That gets back to what I said. We need to use fewer cars.

They want to expand mass transportation. Buses and trains are less destructive than cars, but they should not be a major part of the solution. The major part of the solution should be redesigning cities, not rebuilding cities. I live in St. Louis. There are little places all over St. Louis that used to be storefronts 50-75 years ago that have been converted for some other use. Those buildings could be converted again with minimum environmental impact to be used as grocery stores.

Ninety percent of Americans should be able to walk or ride a bicycle to a grocery store. Americans should lead the world, but not in producing more stuff, but lead the world in saying we can show how we can reduce inequality in this country and how we can improve people's lives while producing fewer things and better things that last a longer time, and which are compatible with the environment. 22:10

Dan Young: Do you have hope that there could be the political and social will for Americans to reduce overall resource usage?

Don Fitz: Yes, I think that is very possible. You asked me earlier where should we start? We can start with a shorter work week. If you ask people, do you want to live with more stuff or less stuff, most Americans will say they want more stuff. It's like an addiction. You get a quick fix for maybe a few minutes or a few hours or a few days, and then you look for something else. But if you offer people the choice: do you want a shorter work week or an accumulation of more objects, many people will choose the shorter work week because people want more free time to be with family and friends. That's the way we need to win people over. We should not have to be frantically working, sometimes with two jobs, working 60 or more hours a week, just so we can barely keep up and to have enough for medical insurance. We do not have to work ourselves into a frenzy. (This is the end of the interview of Don Fitz.)

(23:54) This is Dan Young and we have been talking about the GND. Don Fitz and Stan Young are presenting a critical analysis of the GND, grounded in environmentalism and ecology. Key to this critique is the fact that GND proposals are based on plans for massive growth in the economy and industrial production around the world. But many environmentalists believe that the economy and industry needs to shrink in order to avoid ecological disaster. They feel that the growth called for in the GND would be unlikely to stop global warming and would only worsen numerous other ongoing global environmental crises.

(24:45) This is Dan Young and I'm speaking with Stan Cox about the recent new GND endorsed by many Democrats. Stan Cox works as a plant breeder and geneticist at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. The Land Institute is dedicated to developing less ecologically destructive alternatives to current agricultural practices. Stan Cox works for the Land Institute developing perennial sorghum. But he also is a prolific environmental writer. Stan has had articles produced in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and at Aljazeera. He has also written for CounterPunch and Alternet. Stan has authored or co-authored 3 books. The most recent of which was How the World Breaks: Life in Catastrophe's Path from the Caribbean to Siberia. I first discovered Stan Cox when I was researching online looking for critical analyses of Green New Deal proposals based on ecology and environmentalism. I came upon an article by Stan that was originally published at a website called Green Social Thought and later republished by CounterPunch. The article was titled "That Green Growth at the Heart of the Green New Deal--It's Malignant."

Dan Young: So thanks so much for speaking with me today, Stan.

Stan Cox: It's good to be with you, Dan.

(26:09) Dan Young: How did you come to be a plant breeder and an environmental writer.

Stan Cox: I worked for the U.S. Dept of Agriculture Research Service for 13 years as a research geneticist. During the last few years of that job, the world was waking up to the fact of greenhouse warming. Then I started working for the Land Institute in 2000 and have worked there since then. The Land Institute has had a long tradition of critiquing growth and the ecological overshoot and technological fundamentalism. So when I wasn't working in the greenhouse, I was working on writing. So about 6 years ago, I wrote a book about rationing--the rationing of food, water, medical care, and carbon emission. I was making the case that we not only have to replace fossil fuels with renewable energy, but when we do that, we will have to live in a world that lives on lower energy levels. We cannot completely replace the bonanza we have had with oil, gas, and coal with renewable energy. There will have to be some plan to deal with that and probably the best idea is what's called "tradable energy quotas" that was developed in the UK and debated there in Parliament. It involves capping fossil fuel use, a hard cap (but no cap and trade--nothing like that) and having fair shares of energy for people in business.

Dan Young: Why don't you say more about a worldview based on the idea of infinite economic growth and about technological fundamentalism, which is probably a term a lot of people haven't heard. Talk about that kind of mindset and the mindset that you are promoting.

(29:01) Stan Cox: It should be obvious to everyone that there is no such thing as infinite growth for any organism, population, or ecosystem. There are ecological limits. The goal of the present day economy is infinite growth. In capitalism, if there is no growth, it [the business] cannot function. The GND wants the economy to grow as rapidly as possible, and that cannot happen. They talk about decarbonization of the economy, getting more GDP out of a given amount of carbon that's put into the atmosphere, and that's where the technological fundamentalism comes in: We don't know how, but we know we're going to come up with miraculous technologies that are going to be able to supply a growing income for the wealthy and growing incomes for the not wealthy without increasing our carbon output. In fact, by decreasing it. But there is no such technologies available, and to simply trust that they will be invented is foolhardy.

The times we have seen deep reductions in greenhouse emissions throughout history has always been times of economic depression or after the fall of the Soviet Union, and during our recession of the past decade. That's one way to reduce emissions. But we don't want to do that. We need to do it in an orderly and fair way so that people do not have suffer.

Dan Young: Why don't you flesh out how that fair way [to reduce greenhouse emissions] will look like?

Stan Cox: The situation that we are in that the Green New Deal is not addressing is: They are talking about the need for rapid growth in renewable energy generation capacity--which is absolutely needed. That's where we do need growth--extrapolating that to the economy as a whole. But the reality that we are facing is that the need for a rapid reduction in greenhouse emissions will mean that we need to reduce our fossil fuel burning and fossil-fueled electric capacity much faster than it is possible for the renewable energy to grow, to replace it. (32:16) That means that we are facing a reduced energy supply if we are really serious about keeping fossil fuels in the ground.

So there is going to be less energy available, which means there will not be enough to launch into this manufacturing boom that they are talking about. And a good part of our energy and resources are going to have to be walled off for building up of the renewable energy capacity, which is necessary, which will further reduce the pool of energy that we have to work with to run the rest of the economy. So then that means we are going to be manufacturing less, traveling less, etc. There is really no way around it. The main concern then will have to be in making sure (33:09) it is the production of wasteful and superfluous products that is reduced. And that the production that is used for meeting the needs of everyone is maintained and shared fairly.

(33:30) Dan Young: It seems like if they found a way to develop new technologies that would allow them to generate the same amount of energy for the American or European lifestyle while switching off from fossil fuels, even if that was possible, you are still talking about a product consumption lifestyle that uses a huge amount of resources of other kinds that seems like if it continues to grow, you are still headed for maybe a more distant collapse down the road.

(34:11) Stan Cox: There are estimates that if we were to generate the same amount of energy with wind and solar that we do now globally, the quantities of copper and other minerals that would be required--it is not clear that there are enough reserves in the ground to support those things.

These analyses that we have seen out there that are claiming to show a strategy by which we could replace 100 percent of current and growing energy demands with entirely renewable sources. I have written before on [this]. But based on published critiques of those plans--on all of the problems that they have--and [all]this [will be] 100 percent renewable: [it] is a cornucopian pipe dream. These predictions are all based on best-case-scenario assumptions, envisioning these technologies that are only speculative--and have never been tried on anything but the smallest scale--they are very unrealistic (35:49) improvements on the efficiencies of everything. They calculate the potential for wind and solar. The thing about these plans is that they are assuming that the global energy inequality that we see today--where some of us have access to pretty much unlimited energy and other people are living on much less energy that they need to survive--that inequality will stay there. We will just convert from fossil fuel to renewable energy rather than redistribute access to energy.

(36:41) Dan Young: It seems like there are a lot of other problems that demand looking seriously at the amount of resource usage beyond fossil fuels. The anthropogenic mass extinction caused by habitat destruction, the loss of arable land, the loss of clear drinkable water--these things are not entirely generated by global warming. And global warming will continue even if they were to do the best-case scenario changeover.

Stan Cox: Yes, that's an excellent point. We could completely eliminate our fossil fuel use, and if we could run our society the way we do now entirely on renewable energy, we would still be causing all the problems that you just mentioned, including the imbalance of nitrogen in the atmosphere, water, and soil that we have created through agriculture and industry. There are these so-called 9 planetary boundaries that we are in danger of crossing, all of them--fresh water availability, and so forth.

We could easily keep transgressing those boundaries using renewable energy. That's why it's growth and not fossil fuels that is the fundamental problem here.

(38:26) Dan Young: So in the non-binding House Resolution recently brought forward by various Democrats that's being referred to as the GND, there are several places it refers to a goal of major economic and industrial growth. It calls for exporting this model abroad by promoting the international exchange of technology, expertise, products, funding, and services. And then there is this frequently-asked-questions document that had a lot more very emphatic references to a goal of massive economic and industrial development, and even possibly to an international competition for this development--even if it is feasible--it sounds terrible for the environment. Do you have any more thoughts about this?

Stan Cox: Well, yes, you are following that to its logical conclusion which would be just that--a race to the top--or the bottom--between all of the countries. They talk about going to the moon, and others may refer to the Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. Those are technically relative and simple compared to the situation we face now, which is our lives and economy have to be transformed. Even when they use WWII as the example, which it does serve as a kind of example because there too we had a situation where one part of the economy had to be walled off, in this case for war and armaments production. And then the rest of the economy had to live on what was left. When they talk about WWII as Bill McKibben and others have written about--they focus only on the war production side being the analogy to build up energy and how we marshalled our productive forces and achieved this great amount of production and so forth and that's a fair comparison.

(40:39) Dan Young: It's a fair comparison that they are talking about taking resources, walling them off and marshalling them to change out the infrastructure from fossil fuels to renewables. Is that the part that is the fair comparison?

Stan Cox: Right. That's fine, but they ignore the other side of it. The result of that was we had to force civilian production for the rest of the economy. We had to reduce the amount of stuff that was being produced--or in the case of food, try to increase it. There was something called the War Production Board that diverted resources to products or industries that were needed. They shut down industries that were producing unnecessary goods. Then that resulted in shortages of some stuff and then rationing was required. So we would also be facing that kind of problem in a world where we are voluntarily cutting back on our access to resources, while at the same time building up new resources. And all of that has to take place, as they keep saying, within the next decade or two. So we can't wait around until all the renewable infrastructure is built up (42:10) and then start eliminating fossil fuels. We have to do it at the same time.

Dan Young: From what's been put out about this GND, what do you like about it? what do you dislike? Do you think this could somehow be a jumping off point for something great or that it all needs to be rethought?

Stan Cox: Well, I'm told that in the discussions that formulated this initial version of the GND that any talk about "ensuring sufficiency for everyone and excess for nobody" that any type of that kind of thing was shut out--or any talk about controlling what we produce. And ignoring that part of it and just allowing reckless growth to continue, they're eventually going to fall back on nuclear power. That's my biggest fear. But that said, with the Right attacking the GND as going too far--I think we do have to defend it [the GND] but to say what parts of it we are defending. And I think we need to support its efforts to provide economic security to the now insecure majority, to redistribute economic power, to eradicate racism and all forms of repression, and to rebuild energy capacity, and to reduce energy waste through efficiency--all those things we should be defending, but at the same time stressing that if this GND evolves, it has to go much farther, and all of that needs to be pushed quickly and we have to let go of these dreams of Green growth. (44:25)

Dan Young: Do you feel if they fell back on nuclear power they could meet their goals--carbon-wise?

Stan Cox: Well, the trouble with building up nuclear power is that, like renewable power, all of the energy expenditure and the emissions generated to build it up, come upfront while it is being constructed, and to generate that much nuclear electricity would be a huge construction project, and mining and waste disposal--all of these things. And all of that would be coming in the next couple of decades right at the time when we need to be reducing emissions. Now, of course, it is going to generate emissions to build up renewable energy as well, but not nearly as much. But then there are all the other dangers of nuclear energy and to just go on a building spree (45:35) is very reckless. And there eventually would come-- we have been through concerns about peak oil--a peak uranium problem, and the ecological consequences would not be worth it. We would be much better off just living with less energy.

Dan Young: It [the GND] also doesn't deal with--if production of everything else continues based on uranium and nuclear energy--the habitat loss, the loss of arable soil, the continued loss of drinkable water, especially if you see more American suburban living expanding to other parts of the world that don't have it yet. It's all powered by nuclear power!

Stan Cox: Right, and that concern--I'm glad you brought it up again--for all these other problems, setting aside greenhouse warming, we have to keep focused on that. It's not all just about energy. And this is a concern with the renewable energy build-up because there are researchers, some in Australia, who are pointing out if we were to attempt to supply as much energy as we use now with renewable energy we would be pressing wind and solar farms into more and more ecologically fragile areas and that there probably would be, we would hope, a popular outrage at that. That would be another limit on the amount of energy we would be able to produce. (47:29)

Dan Young: All right, I think I am going to wrap up. Do you have anything else you wanted to say about anything we have covered?

Stan Cox: One thing that I have been trying to emphasize is that if the GND comes along in its current form, it is only going to be after we wage a protracted politically bloody struggle. But if it succeeds in its current form, we are going to find that it is not stopping global warming. So if we are going to wage this fight, then we better fight for a transformation that actually has a chance of preventing catastrophic warming. (48:11)

Dan Young: Well, thank you very much for speaking with me today, Stan. I have speaking with Stan Cox about the GND. Cox is a plant breeder and geneticist working on sustainable agriculture, and he is also a prolific environmental writer and a political activist So, again, thanks so much, Stan.

Stan Cox: Thank you, Dan.

Dan Young: This is Dan Young and today I spoke with two long-time environmental activists and writers about the GND. Don Fitz and Stan Cox presented a critical analysis of the GND, grounded in environmentalism and ecology. Key to their critique was concerns that the GND proposals are based on plans for massive growth in the economy and in industrial production. Cox and Fitz feel that the economy and industry needs to shrink in order to avoid ecological disaster. They feel that the growth called for in the GND would be unlikely to stop global warming and would only worsen numerous other global and environmental crises. Instead of so-called green growth, they want to see a rapid changeover to renewable energy coupled with economically egalitarian reforms and a major reduction in industrial production (49:18).

(Article changed on May 4, 2019 at 04:20)

(Article changed on May 4, 2019 at 04:41)


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Paul Krumm

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There are two elephants in the room that are not dealt with by either of these activists; military expenditures and how our money works.

Cutting at least 80 percent of the military budget, and the budgets of the various intelligence agencies would free a large number of workers for the transition. The money that is currently being spent in foreign military support for control of fossil fuel supplies (as in Venezuela, Syria, and Libya) and other natural resources by international corporations that support the current government needs to cease anyway. I am surprised that Fitz doesn't mention this, as it is a part of the Green Party's version of the Green New Deal.

Or money is another fundamental barrier to the Green New Deal as envisioned in this article. This is based on the fact that our money is not stuff. it consists in numbers in an accounting system, only a small percentage of which are represented by coins and paper money. These numbers are created by the private banking system, under the direction of the Federal Reserve System, itself a privately controlled independent agency of the Federal Government. These numbers are created in the bank loan process, and disappear again as loans are paid.

But loans also require interest. No money is created to pay that interest, so as loans come due, one or more of three things has to happen. 1) The money supply has to grow at an exponential rate, which requires more and more and bigger and bigger loans all the time, 2) there has to be inflation so more money is chasing the same amount of economic activity, and/or 3) a percentage of the users have to go bankrupt, ceding their assets to the bank.

In all cases, there is a migration of money from the productive community to the banking/financial community. This is the basic driver for our economic inequality. Also, money in this system is scarce in the long term, leading to breakdown of community because its users are required to think of their interests in competition with others for the scarce money resource, instead of working together.

Our current money system will break down when exponential growth of the money supply ceases, which is inevitable as infinite growth is not possible in our finite world with its finite resources both human and physical. Again the Green Party has a solution, but one which in the mind of this writer is only a partial one. It gets rid of the interest load in the creation of money by having the Government create a permanent money supply in the process of nationalizing the FED.

However this proposal does not deal with the issue of interest on private debt, which still gives the banking industry some power, enough historically to end the use of President Lincoln's government created Greenbacks, and to get the legislation passed creating the Federal Reserve System in 1913 that consolidated the banking industry's money power over our economy. We would have to be constantly vigilant concerning a repeat occurrence.

Money is in fact a public utility. It will be necessary to totally wean ourselves from the notion that numbers have a right to multiply themselves through the mechanism of interest.

Just think. We are assuming that if you have numbers, you have a right to bigger numbers over time, and if you don't have, and need, numbers to trade for necessities, you should owe bigger numbers later.

Submitted on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 7:15:20 PM

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Roger Copple

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Hi Paul, you make some good points, and your concerns are important. Don Fitz and Stan Cox were primarily dealing with the Green New Deal as introduced by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. My guess is that they both would agree that we need massive cuts in military spending, and that they would probably support measures such as public banking as well. I read in your bio that you live off grid in an earth-sheltered home. I admire that.

Submitted on Saturday, May 4, 2019 at 8:30:19 PM

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