If you’re like most Americans, you’ve probably heard of the Green New Deal. And, if you’re like most Americans, there’s a good chance that you have absolutely no idea what it is.
Now, that’s not your fault—the media and politicians on all sides of the political spectrum seem to have a lot to say about the radical nature of the Green New Deal. Almost no one, however, seems interested in discussing the points it makes.
From Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell calling it a “socialist daydream” to Senator Mike Lee claiming that it will bring down the U.S. cow population from 94 million to zero, the critical remarks made against it seem endless. But what is the Green New Deal, and just how radical is it?
Today we’re going to answer those questions and many more.
Checking in with the planet
For years, most climate experts believed that the Earth could withstand a temperature increase of 1.5° Celsius. It wasn’t considered ideal, but as long as the planet didn’t warm by 2° C, most experts believed that the world would be fine.
In 2018, however, a group of scientists realized that wasn’t the case.
They discovered that the zone between 1.5° and 2° wasn’t as safe as they’d thought. New research found that even minor temperature increases could have disastrous effects on human wellbeing and the planet, in general.
From mass migrations to global wildfires and desertification, the upcoming damage looks to be irreversible—the kind that the world is unable to recover from for hundreds of years. Countries everywhere will end up paying trillions of dollars, and millions of people will die.
A group of activists and politicians realized that the United States doesn’t have a plan to combat these events and that at present, that bleak future is unavoidable. And so, they drafted the Green New Deal.
Nothing more than a resolution
Contrary to what many people believe, the Green New Deal isn’t a piece of legislation. It’s not even a bill or a proposed piece of legislation. All it is a resolution, or the first step of a plan that policymakers haven’t yet written.
The Green New Deal is only fourteen pages and has two distinct parts.
Part 1: What we need to do
The first part of the Green New Deal highlights the scientists’ findings and concludes that the United States needs to rethink the way it uses energy.
It calls for zero fossil fuel emissions—zero as in zero. That means nothing from coal, natural gas, oil, or other non-renewable resources. It also recommends other sustainable measures, like switching to electric vehicles, energy-efficient homes, and locally sourced food.
While some of that may sound extreme, as the resolution explains, it’s a necessary solution to an ever-growing problem—one that will only worsen with inaction.
Part 2: How to keep Americans safe
The Green New Deal recognizes that making these transitions won’t be easy. When you eliminate industries like coal, oil, and natural gas, people will lose their jobs.
In the United States, job loss also means a loss of healthcare. Due to a lack of social safety nets, it can also mean other problems, like homelessness.
The second part of the Green New Deal is, therefore, a set of promises guaranteeing the wellbeing of the American people.
These include benefits such as universal healthcare, education and training, guaranteed jobs, and public employment. Those aren’t just for fossil fuel workers, either—they’re for all American citizens.
Part two recognizes that the rich and powerful have an easier time adapting than the less well-off. These guarantees seek to limit inequality and ensure that everyone thrives.
An uphill battle
The Green New Deal is nothing more than a resolution that asks leaders to acknowledge the magnitude of the problem that lies before us. Politicians and media figures alike, however, have twisted it into something different.
Today, many people view the Green New Deal as something radical and dangerous. At the same time, the average person can’t give you a thorough explanation of what it is.
That’s because of tactical framing, where the media and bad faith politicians highlight the divisiveness of the Green New Deal without actually discussing its content. This turns people away from something that most would otherwise support.
So what’s the solution? How do we overcome divisive rhetoric that generates automatic cynicism?
Through education. Through taking the time to learn about issues like the Green New Deal, then helping those around you do the same.
In a sense, the Green New Deal is “radical”. It threatens the status quo and the way that Americans have lived for generations. Yet no other solution comes close to being as all-encompassing.
The world needs countries like the United States to step up and embrace ideas like the Green New Deal. Our future and that of those that come after us depend on what we do at this moment in time.