Imagine yourself walking through campus. You pass the new trash and recycling bins, each one made from approximately 1,905 reclaimed milk jugs. Maybe you pass the Tri-Gen Energy Plant on your way. You pull out your phone, open your Twitter app, and see “Green New Deal” is trending. You know that it’s a major point of debate in Congress right now, but what is it and why should you care?
The Green New Deal (GND) is a proposed plan for the decarbonization of the United States and projects a plan to help combat the effects of climate change as quickly as possible, moving into a “secure, sustainable future,” according to the Green Party US. The platform, which is quickly gaining strength among progressive members of the Democratic party, aims to promote social, economic and environmental change to bolster the American people, while protecting the future on this planet. Erin Powell, a former Rider student and current global politics student at George Washington University stated, “It’s aggressive … [but] it’s realistic about the kind of drastic change that needs to happen. I think if it were actually implemented, within 50 years we’d see some pretty awesome results as far as pollution reduction, ozone repair, and green energy stimulating the economy.”
This plan targets climate change from all three of the pillars of sustainability: social, political and economic. If the plan is implemented, it will provide support for green businesses in order to build the market for products and services from small, local businesses and stop the outsourcing of production. The shipping of labor overseas may seem to be the more cost-effective plan, but it requires an extreme amount of fossil fuels to ship the goods that are produced. Shifting the focus to local businesses allows the United States to reduce our reliance on foreign fossil fuels and move toward renewable energy sources.
The GND also creates a plan to move completely away from non-renewable resources by 2030 by redirecting funds from the processing of fossil fuels into research of clean energy. Not only will the United States become completely detached from non-renewable energy, but the new sources wind, solar and geothermal, will produce significantly less waste and pollution. These sources of energy also allow the United States to create changes in agriculture and forest maintenance to eliminate the destruction of habitats and non-sustainable strategies.
But what will happen to all of those jobs in the fossil fuel industry? With the creation of these new energy sources, new jobs will also follow. The GND will enact the Full-Employment Program and will directly create 16 million new jobs within the sustainable energy industry, while rerouting food systems to be organically produced and sourced.
The controversy surrounding the GND has polarized Congress, far beyond the pre-existing party lines. Junior musical theater major Alison Fisher comments that “very powerful people who directly benefit from the current massive money flow of fossil fuels may say this proposal is extreme, but I say it’s about time we got extreme about saving our planet. Young and old we all must come together and get serious about helping to prevent catastrophe.”
Our planet is not a partisan issue. Our future is not a partisan issue. It’s an issue that affects everyone and some noteworthy young people are stepping up to lead the charge. Greta Ernman Thunberg is a 16-year-old Swedish political activist working to stop global warming and climate change. In August 2018, she became a prominent figure for starting the first school strike for climate outside the Swedish parliament building.
“Adults keep saying, ‘We owe it to the young people to give them hope,’” Thunberg said. “But I don’t want your hope…. I want you to act as you would in a crisis. I want you to act as if the house is on fire. Because it is.” Not only will the GND transform the impact that the United States has on the environment, but it will completely reconstruct the infrastructure of the country to create a clean and self-sustaining nation. The impact will have a global affect and that’s what’s needed.