Green New Deal Presentation with David Barnhill


all right I think we’re gonna get going
here thanks everybody for coming my name is David Barnhill up until 2015 I was a
director of environmental studies at UW Oshkosh where I taught a senior seminar
on climate change and since that time I live up in the North Woods where I chair
the North Woods chapter of our Wisconsin revolution a local affiliate of three
fifty.org called North Woods Climate Action Network and get into all kinds of
other trouble as well and so my retirement is a joke it just didn’t
happen didn’t happen so I’m here to talk about the green New Deal actually I’m
not going to talk that much about the proposal itself in a sense I’m going to
talk about how to think about the green New Deal and what its significance is so
here’s the game plan I’m going to start out setting the stage talk about the
context that helps make sense of the proposal and then I’ll talk about the
resolution and some of the key features of it then I’ll talk about criticisms
and there are more than a few criticisms of various kind some are really serious
and some are not we’ll talk about alternative proposals and as time goes
on there is increasingly more and more proposals coming from a wide range of
political perspective and then I will talk about well if this is a good thing
how do we make it happen so a little bit of history we already got our prehistory
before we started talking this obviously draws on FDR’s New Deal
that came out in the 1930s and then in 2007 the columnist Thomas Friedman in
two different articles that year proposed the idea of a green new deal
that would be similar to FDR’s but have much focus on the environment and on
climate then there was a book by Van Jones who was now CNN commentator and
then that got picked up by in Europe by plane called the global greens
Network by the United Nations and there was kind of a flurry of activity in the
late 2000s and then 2010 hit with a great recession and new political
parties in power in UK and the US and so there wasn’t much talk about it until
last year and then and then last year the Sierra Club came up with a its own
green New Deal group called data for progress came up with its own and then
what really kicked it off was the election of Alexandria Ocasio Cortez who
since I’m lazy I will abbreviate AOC and she made the proposal in November
started with the idea and then the official proposal was in February so
that’s your two minute history so what is it it’s nice to start out with a
definition so I said well I’m going to sit down and in one sentence try to
capture as much of the green New Deal as possible and so I define it as a
platform of general principles of goals and policies in other words it’s not
specific bills not legislation at this point it’s more like a vision statement
about goals and principles for achieving those goals for a radical transformation
of our economy and even our society so it’s important to keep that in mind
addressing the climate crisis but not just that economic inequity and social
injustice and it does that by a massive public sector investment so the
government is very much involved in this like it was with FDR’s New Deal but
there are many different possibilities of how this could play out and so that’s
going to take several years to come up with all the individual policies and
proposals just like the New Deal did in the 1930s so that’s what it is in one
configuration now I mentioned in the last one about climate crisis and
inequity and injustice and if anyone is used to hearing about sustainability
this is considered the three pillars of sustainability when I was at UW Oshkosh
I was co-chair of their sustainability task force most every University has one
many corporations have them but the focus is not just on environmental
sustainability because if you’re going to create the kind of changes you need
you also have to involve society and the economy and there’s different ways of
conceptualizing the relationship between these three but the fact that they are
integrated is really crucial through the green New Deal
one way to present this visually is to talk about this is a Venn diagram so you
have aspects of climate you have the issues about jobs you have issues about
social justice and where they all come together is where the green new deal is
but another way to do it which I really like is to have concentric circles here
so that if we talk our our society likes to separate these things so okay we’re
going to talk about economics we’re not going to talk about social justice we’re
not going to talk about environment and that allows a lot of bad things to
happen so if we recognize that our economy exists within society and that
we exist within our environment then we can see how we have to deal with all of
these things at the same time because they’re so interconnected now usually
this is done as it was done at UW Oshkosh in a very safe way let’s have
more efficient buildings and change out your light bulbs and use less water and
all that’s fine but that doesn’t change the basic status quo and we’ve gotten to
a point where we need to do that so one of the words that gets used especially
of critics of the green new deal is oh it’s unrealistic so let’s start with
reality okay and I’ll start with climate reality point number one is that every
decade over the last half century has been hotter than the previous one the
let the five hottest years on record are the
five and this is going to be another one studies show that actually things are
worse than the scientists have come up with co2 levels carbon dioxide levels in
the atmosphere are now about four hundred and fifteen parts per million
before the Industrial Revolution was about 280 the last time the planet had
that degree of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere the oceans were 50 to 75 feet
higher so in a study last year scientists from the Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change these are sober scientists not left wing radicals okay
they said the only way we’re going to avoid have any certainty any chance of
avoiding a climate catastrophe is rapid far-reaching and unprecedented changes
in all aspects of society the time for tinkering is over if we started 30 years
ago maybe we could have done some of that but now we have to do more than
that now here’s another reality about our finances our economics and about
wealth so here’s a graph it starts out with 1910 and goes to 2010 this is
percentage of the wealth held by certain social groups okay so this dark blue
area is the amount of wealth held by the bottom 90% of the American people that’s
their combined wealth the little blue arrow line is how much wealth is owned
by not the top 1% but the top one-tenth of 1% of Americans and what you see is
in the 1920s there was actually more people that that one-tenth and 1% had
more wealth combined than the bottom 90% 1930s comes along with FDR things start
to change okay more and more of our American wealth it goes to the bottom
90% and the super super-rich have smaller proportions of that
then you’ll notice in the 1980s and we’ll come back to that history in a
couple of slides that starts to change again and now we are at a point where
the top one-tenth of 1% has as much wealth as the bottom 90% of the American
people and as a former Supreme Court justice once said we must make our
choice we can pick democracy or have wealth concentrated in the hands of few
you cannot have both democracy doesn’t work that way another kind of reality
moral reality climate injustice what is climate injustice number one the poor
people are the ones that have contributed least to our climate problem
they’re the ones that have contributed leads to the greenhouse gases going up
there at the same time they are bearing most of the brunt of it and have the
least resources to respond to it so you think of the poor people in New Orleans
after Hurricane Katrina the wealthy that were hit hard they could respond to that
but the poor people there still haven’t recovered or if you think of Bangladesh
or the Philippines and so on down the line the poor have done less to cause
the problem but are bearing the bigger brunt that is part of our reality and
then there’s a political reality did anybody see the clips of Diane Feinstein
talking to these young sunrise movement people some of the young activists came
to Senator Dianne Feinstein from California and said you have to do
something you have to support the green New Deal and she just said very calmly
listen I’ve been at this business for thirty years I know how to get things
done well what has been done over the past 30 years hardly anything so you
have a Congress that has done very very little even though we’ve known about
this for thirty years at the same time right now there are mass movements that
are happening on the scale we haven’t seen since the Vietnam War era here in
the United States the sunrise movement is catalyzing this with this and they
were the ones that had a sit-in in Nancy Pelosi’s office right after the election
in November over in the UK and in Ireland the extinction rebellion is
doing a lot of disruption and civil disobedience to say look our future is
at stake here you need to do something and it’s been so effective that the
governments of UK Ireland Wales Scotland have all said you know kids you’re right
we are in a climate emergency and so they have officially declared it in a
climate emergency and then there are the international school strikes for climate
I don’t know if anybody’s seen Greta tunberg this teenager in Sweden one of
the most remarkable people I have come across politically in my entire life
back last year she got so depressed about climate change that she said I’m
gonna stop going to school I’m gonna go sit in front of Parliament until they do
something so she sat there by herself the next week a few more people came the
word started getting out and about six months later one and a half million
students around the world we’re doing the same thing so you’ve got this up
swell especially among young people saying our future is at stake something
needs to happen that’s part of our political reality now one thing I’ll
point out here a thing called the Overton Window it’s really a kind of a
simple idea and that is that there is a range of what is politically acceptable
to talk about and policies to promote in our society at a given time so five
years ago if you had a candidate who said I’m a socialist they wouldn’t even
have gotten on the radar but now that term is all over the place with all
kinds of distortions about it but that has changed and this green new deal now
five years ago this would have been a crazy idea that nobody would have paid
attention to but now it’s a central part especially of the Democratic
presidential primary so part of what is going on now is we are stretching
out what is conceivable and it can be talked about and finally a historical
reality and this goes back to that graph that I showed you we tend to think of
history as small incremental changes over time but history also has paradigm
shifts where you have a sea change you enter in a new era of new way of
thinking about government new era of possibilities so for instance back and
say the 1890s our economy was dominated by a few huge monopolies Standard Oil
Bank barons and they were called the robber barons at that time and so you
had at that time the new Progressive Era which said that government part of the
role of government should be to guarantee that you have competition
Society and you don’t have this extreme concentration and wealth so they came up
with the Antitrust Act the sixteenth amendment that allowed for income taxes
so there was a new way of thinking about what the government should and can do
then in the 1930s of course with FDR and the big change here was the idea that
government should be acting proactively in our economy for the common good that
it shouldn’t sit back there and let the economy rule if we are going to have a
just in a prosperous economy the government has to be in there very
actively and so we had all of these bills that came out in the New Deal and
that’s precisely when that changed between how much the super-rich had and
the and the the rest of us had started to change because of the New Deal
fast-forward to the 1980s and this is an era we sometimes called neoliberalism
which is it kind of a fancy term but it was called a no-no people remember the
Reagan Revolution and it was a revolution because it overthrew the idea
that government should be active for the common good and there were two leaders
of this one was the prime minister of the UK Margaret Thatcher and she
famously or infamously said there is no such thing as society there are only
individuals and families and everything else is kind of a abstract delusion in
other words I’m separate from you I haven’t met you before I have no
responsibility to you and we should all go about our little individual selves
and protect our own interests and Ronald Reagan in direct contrast to FDR came up
with the nine scariest words in the English language I’m from the government
and I’m here to help that’s exactly what FDR said we are here from the government
and we’re going to help the common people Reagan turned that on its head
and said or put more succinctly as he put it government isn’t the solution
it’s the problem and therefore we should just keep cutting back pay them back
government and let the corporation’s have their role in things so that’s the
reality in a sense that the green New Deal arose from so there is a OC there
is senator ed markey who sponsored it in the Senate and I’m going to go through this
somewhat rapidly but here’s the outline of it here are the goals to achieve net
zero greenhouse gas emissions okay we got to stop polluting our atmosphere
create millions of good high wage jobs invest in infrastructure secure a clean
environment for everyone and promote justice for vulnerable communities and
that’s the poor people in cities that poor people in rural areas and those
people who have jobs in the fossil fuel industry that are going to start already
start losing I mean what’s going to happen to coal miners as we continue to
move away from coal so all of these things are the basic goals of the green
New Deal then it comes up with a ten-year national mobilization and it’s
picking up on the idea of world war ii mobilization to talk in terms of the
country getting together with a common goal and doing extraordinary things that
in a sense it couldn’t even imagined it could do before so it has several parts
of this mobilization a hundred percent power demand through renewables energy
efficient and distributed electrical grids upgrade existing buildings so we
don’t waste all kinds of energy resiliency against climate related
disasters whether it’s in Nebraska or Florida or up in Alaska repair and
upgrade the infrastructure that we have spur massive growth in clean
manufacturing so we can shift the manufacturing and actually revive
manufacturing in the United States remove pollution and greenhouse gases
from our atmosphere overall the transportation system so it also does
not contribute to the climate crisis and remove greenhouse gases from the
atmosphere so that’s a lot okay and it’s meant to be a lot and the point is we
have to do a lot given the reality of the crisis that we are in that the
scientists have been telling us about for so long we we can only do this right
if we take a big step now as I have mentioned a couple times this is not
have all the specifics of individual bills or proposals there is one group
called the new consensus and they are particularly focused on how we are going
to do that mobilization what specific bills how do we get to a hundred percent
renewable energy and all that and so they expect to start rolling out
individual proposals in about a year but you have to think this through and talk
to a lot of people about it so that will be coming
now a couple of points general points about these proposals this is a enormous
Lee labor focused proposal even though most people think of it as a climate
proposal it really emphasizes what they call a just transition for all
communities and workers again including fossil fuel workers and the creation of
lots of jobs the if you want to invest in the growth industry of jobs its
renewable energy and the Bureau of Labor Statistics had a study about a year ago
that said by far the two biggest growth industries in the United States is wind
power and solar power so why not we getting on that bandwagon and creating
jobs but one of the things that they emphasize here this needs to be high
quality jobs they need to be union jobs they have to have family sustaining
wages so this is the most Pro labor proposal I think since the 1930s and the
prestigious Brooking Institute made a study a couple of months ago looking at
jobs in the clean energy sector and basically was using the green New Deal
as an outline for this and one of the points they made is that this is going
to increase jobs not for people like me with too many years in college but
particularly people coming out of high school people coming out of tech
colleges they call it upskilling because if you want to have people who can build
and repair wind power who can install solar power who can upgrade our existing
buildings so they’re energy efficient those are going to be aimed at those who
are poorer now working poor and to give them jobs to bring them more into our
economy so this is part of the just transition is that the many of the jobs
are focused on the in a sense the lower level jobs and give them higher wages
and higher job security so in one side there have been
of labor unions that have endorsed this you can just read a list here so some
people in the labor movement have recognized that this is but I’ll point
out a little later on that there’s other sectors of the labor unions that are not
on board and I’ll explain why then so one part of this is that it is a labor
and jobs oriented program it is also environmental justice program as I
mentioned before and it will strengthen any kind of environmental justice
initiatives to make sure that the poor don’t get screwed even more by climate
change as we make this transition and also it’s it’s really important to
recognize this is a very positive vision I’ve been talking about climate change
for a long time and I generally find myself doing doom and gloom all right
the first time I gave this presentation the first response I got was wow this is
the most positive thing I’ve heard about climate change ever so it’s important to
recognize this is looking at using this as an opportunity this emergency as an
opportunity to create a better society okay so everybody loves it and
everybody’s on board right not so much I love this cartoon here and sometimes you
can feel like everybody’s pointing a finger at you so I will kind of run
through these seven would seem to me the major criticisms of it and give some
responses to it the first one is it just can’t be done
okay it’s not technologically feasible you can’t go to a hundred percent
renewable energy and there are a few studies that make that argument there
are also a number of sophisticated studies that say if we do it the right
way if we have the right political will yes we can and we will only find out if
we can or how close we can get if we make that the bar
that we go towards so another little bit of history Manhattan Project as you
recall this was a really short-term project to build an atomic bomb and
again nobody had a clue on how to do that other than the Nazis were working
on it and so they just put themselves at this and came up with something
fortunately before the Nazis did so those kind of breakthroughs are possible
but the resolution doesn’t really require the goals that is aiming at in
one sense this is aspirational but we’ve got to make that kind of commitment to
go as far as we can go but there are real challenges and problems with making
this movement and it’s important for proponents of it like myself to take
these seriously okay we’re gonna have a hundred percent renewable energy we’re
going to need a lot of wind turbines how much land is that going to take a lot
actually so we’ve got to figure that out a lot of the power gets generated in
rural areas okay where’s wind I go to North Dakota North Dakota if you want to
go to win but yeah but it’s it’s Milwaukee and Chicago that need that
energy so how do you get that from there to there well the way we generally do it
now is power lines how many people like power lines running through their
community so that’s an issue that we have to deal with and this one is a
particular issue that I think needs to be stressed more and that is that
especially something like solar power depends on certain rare metals lithium
copper and some other things and where are those minerals mined generally in
the developing world and so there’s a concern that this could result in a kind
of green colonialism because we’re going to say okay we’re going to build a lot
of electric vehicles and solar panels so we’re gonna
dig all that stuff out of the Congo and in Chile so we’ve got to deal with that
issue as well I think all of those we can do that but we’ve got to recognize
that those are issues that we need to work through right now most of the
people that bring up these issues are ones that want to throw the green New
Deal out the window so we want people who are really committed to dealing with
a crime that crisis to actually work on these problems oh but we can’t afford it
and I know if you’ve heard hundred trillion dollars and these are just
blowing smoke if you don’t have particular bills or policies as this
doesn’t how can you put any kind of figure on how much it’s going to cost so
when you hear those grand figures it is just hyperbole and scare tactics one
thing to keep in mind though is what’s the cost of inaction okay in a sense we
have a choice this climate catastrophe is coming our way we can either
proactively and positively make changes and put investments in so that we will
be able to avoid the worst and deal with what comes or we can just sit back and
not spend money and wait till all the crises come crashing down on us and pay
huge amounts of money in response to that also when you hear about the cost
of the green New Deal think in terms of net value somebody said oh no you can’t
retrofit all the buildings in the country that will cost 400 billion
dollars well it just might do that create a lot of jobs for good people and
doing that but at the same time that would save at least three times as much
in energy costs so you know when you think in terms of the cost of green New
Deal you think of what bad things we’re avoiding and the costs that of inaction
and also the net gains from the changes that are created healthcare costs if we
get a clean atmosphere we’re going to have
fewer healthcare costs instead of more if we have the climate change continues
at its present rate jobs will stimulate the economy in a way that tax cuts for
the wealthy don’t we spend trillions on wars and and most of them these days
have to do with getting oil at access to oil so we could save a lot that way and
of course we could raise money especially go back to that graph of how
much the top 1% and 1/10 of 1% own and that gross inequity that we have in our
financial system right now it’s also worth remembering that our government in
the past has dealt with things that they couldn’t afford before 2008
I still remember getting a check from George Bush well it wasn’t from him but
it was this stimulus we were getting checks from the government because they
wanted to avoid the Great Recession going into a Great Depression so they
just started writing checks it’s not that they had huge amounts of money in
the bank at that point World War two we didn’t have huge amounts of money but we
paid for it and it wasn’t that when we got bombed in Pearl Harbor can we afford
to have a war it was we’re going to do that and figure out how we’re going to
pay for it and they did one of the things that’s heartening to me is that
two Nobel prize-winning economist support the green New Deal and what it
proposes Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz Oh political feasibility
Congress is never going to pass it well this Congress is never going to pass it
that’s for sure if you accept the status quo that we’ve had for thirty years then
we’re not going to do much of anything to avert this catastrophe so if we
accept the conventional view of what is possible we’re going to fail to do what
is necessary and so like at the beginning of World War two let’s start
with what is necessary and then change what is possible when World War two
started we had three thousand airplanes in the military and
FDR said we need 180,000 people said there’s no way we can do that by the end
of the war we had over 300,000 airplanes so you find out what is necessary and
then you change what it’s possible one of the I think major criticisms of our
political feasibility has to do with the fact of these supposedly unrelated
social programs because the green New Deal talks about guaranteeing a job for
everyone that wants it because we’re going to need people working on these
new climate projects it talks about universal health care because as people
go through a transition as coal miners lose their jobs we want to make sure
they stay up still have health care some people have said well if you want to get
this past you got to get rid of other social programs and just do the
environmental aspect of it and Senator Ed Markey who proposed this in the
Senate basically said we’re talking about a major transformation if you
aren’t guiding this and ensuring that vulnerable people aren’t going to be
hurt by it they will be hurt by it and so we have to have this sense of equity
and social justice wrapped together in this profound change that we need in our
society I mentioned labor and that some people in labor really realize this will
be good and yet there are others primarily those unions in the fossil
fuel industry that say we’re going to lose our jobs if we do this of course
coal miners are losing their jobs even with Trump trying to subsidize it so
that there will be a transition away from fossil fuels there’s no question
it’s just how fast it’s going to be and whether we protect the workers in the
process but this is going to be a criticism a very important one that
advocates for the green New Deal are going to have to be able to respond to
oh but it’s socialism the antithesis of democracy
and freedom it’s an American and on and on right now if whenever you hear that
kind of branding keep in mind that when this radical idea was presented in 1930s
called Social Security do you like Social Security it was
branded as socialism and would lead to you can go onto YouTube and you can type
in Ronald Reagan Medicare and you will get a clip of a advertisement that
Ronald Reagan did back in I think it was 64 when Medicare was being proposed and
he makes in his very calm friendly way that if we if we pass Medicare then we
will inevitably end up with socialist tyranny and our grandchildren will come
to us and say grandpa what was it like when we are free so this is red-baiting
this is scare tactics but it’s important to look at how language is used with
this because for these folks and this is true of neoliberalism since the 1980s
capitalism means free from government free free is freedom and that’s good
freedom means democracy so capitalism means democracy socialism under the
understand underhand means government control that’s not three so that’s not
democracy but clearly we know that there are socialist democracies especially in
the Nordic countries and there are very undemocratic capitalist countries like
somebody we know over in Russia okay so I want to spend a little time on key
terms because as far as thinking about this I think these these are really
important community neoliberalism think back to Margaret Thatcher there are
there is no such thing as Society or there’s just individuals we’re not
related to each other what the green new deal is coming out of is that in fact we
are part of a commune we’re part of a human family we’re part
of the earth community it is an ecological notion of inner relatedness
and interdependence and if you want to in a sense out argue neoliberals you’ve
got to get down to this point as long as people think they are discrete
individuals unrelated to anybody else you’re not going to make a change in
their views in policy so community responsibility one of the terms that is
most often used by I’d say hyper conservatives including my congressman
Sean Duffy is responsibility personal responsibility what they are talking
about coming out of the individualistic framework is taking care of yourself and
not depending on or impinging on anybody else because they’re unrelated to you
what I would like to do is shift that to a sense of community responsibility how
about our responsibility to the people of New Orleans or the people of Miami
who are going to get flooded or the farmers in Nebraska that got flooded in
and their corn plants aren’t going in the ground this year how about to a
Bangladeshi farmer or a mother in Africa we have a sense of responsibility I
would argue to all of those people and into the future
because when we talk about what things are going to be like in the year 2100 I
don’t think I’m going to be around at that time and yet I feel well I’ve got a
granddaughter and when I was called by my son and said dad you’re a granddad
now and I thought dad this is cool I’m gonna I this see how long is she she’s
gonna live to the year 2100 isn’t that great
what’s the earth gonna be like then so I feel a deep responsibility to my
granddaughter and what kind of earth she will be inheriting the common good how
often have you heard this in discussion I bet you if you did if somebody could
do an analysis that this word was used a lot in the 50s 60s 70s and then
starting in the 80s you hardly ever hear this term because the common good
depends on this notion that we’re interrelated and responsible to each
other so free-market capitalism it seems to me is in actually a economy
controlled by the corporations for their benefit what the green New Deal is
seeking to do is to create an economy designed for the common good and if you
like that then you might like the green New Deal democracy everybody likes
democracy that one of the problems with democracy is it’s such an abstract term
it can be manipulated and used in different ways such as capitalism equals
democracy but let’s shift the language to democratic control and some and
things change dramatically if we’re talking about an economy that is run
largely by democratic control rather than by the corporation’s then the
corporation’s don’t like this term democracy very much anymore and the
green New Deal emphasizes this point in its proposal it says it must be
developed through transparent and inclusive collaboration with vulnerable
communities labor unions dismisses we all got to get this together so it’s the
people who are talking about and directing the economy not a few
corporations and billionaires and finally they had all American word
freedom we need to that word changed its meaning to a large degree in the 1980s
and often it’s used the word liberty is used as a kind of code word in this
sense of freedom freedom of corporations to do what they wanted to and not worry
about what happens to the workers the environment freedom it also means the
freedom of individuals from government intrusion and that has become I think
the dominant notion of freedom in our day freedom in the green New Deal how
about freedom of environmental health and security for all how about
the freedom of economic opportunity for all
how about freedom of health security if you can’t pay for the medical bills that
end up happening to you are you free if government isn’t intruding in your life
but you can’t pay for your medical bills you’re not very free and I would say
that freedom from wealth inequality so this actually harkens back to go back to
FDR something that’s not that well-known of FDR this was in his last State of the
Union message in 1944 and he talked about he proposed an economic Bill of
Rights for all Americans and that is the right to a useful job one that will pay
enough for food and clothing and recreation though right to every
American for decent housing a right to adequate medical care for every American
right to protection from economic insecurity these says when we come out
of this war we should be guaranteeing these freedoms to all American people he
didn’t live to see the day of the end of the war and this got largely forgotten
and this was very much in mind with the people who were coming up with a green
new green New Deal resolution it is sort of a modern environmentally focused
notion of economic Bill of Rights oh but it bans cows and airplanes and and and
hamburgers and ice I I mean I don’t like hamburgers myself but if you’re going to
take ice cream for me I got a real problem but it doesn’t do any of that
stuff again this is scare tactic this is
distortions and this is a very common and unfortunately very effective
strategy that is used by certain segments of our media and our politicals
distort a proposal and then repeat that over and over and over and over no they
did a study of media discussions of the green New Deal and
they found that Fox News talked about the green New Deal three times as much
as MSNBC and CNN combined because their reaction is we’re going to define what
this is and make sure everybody knows about it and so it turns out that
liberals know less about have heard less about the green new deal than
conservatives because of that so again scare tactics ignore it it’s also
important to realize that some people are criticizing because it’s not radical
enough it does not explicitly rule out nuclear power or carbon taxes or
shutting off all fossil fuels by 2030 like some people want to have done and
that it’s been criticized for not going far enough others say it should it
should include an aggressive plan to get carbon out of the atmosphere our goal
should be not to stabilize the atmosphere to get it back to safe levels
and scientists have tended to say if we got it back to 350 parts per million we
could be probably be pretty safe we’re at 4:15 we’re almost surely going to get
500 so they’re talking about climate restoration and saying the Green do deal
doesn’t do enough some kind of out of the real socialist background which
means nationalizing corporations public ownership of the means of production and
their argument is look it’s capitalism that led to our problem we got to get
rid of capitalism try to win an election saying that one and then some people
have said that the problem that causes this is we have a growth economy and
remember that those three concentric circles if you have an economy that
keeps growing and growing and growing but you have an environment
that doesn’t keep growing you got a problem so they want to say that our
economics it shouldn’t be what’s our growth rate 3% no is that
good no we need negative growth rate try to win an election doing that too so
it’s just the main point here is that a lot of people say how radical the Green
Deal is there are those who say it doesn’t go far enough
so alternative plan since this has gotten proposed it’s almost remarkable
how many alternative plans have popped up and there are a number of aspects
that tend to come up in alternative plan so in if you hear somebody’s alternative
plans these are some questions to ask what is the role of government
regulations in that plan are there social programs is there any concern for
social justice what kind of investment in research and
development is there should we continue or expand natural gas some say yes some
no should we be subsidizing nuclear power which is the most expensive form
of energy we have and some people say yes and some no but should we put a
price on carbon through a tax or cap-and-trade so these are the way
different plans kind of differentiate themselves and how they answer those
questions and I would ask three other questions of any kind of plan first is
it going to do enough soon enough go back to the necessary
reality that we have and what the necessity that we have to face is it
going to do enough and rapidly enough a second is it going to safeguard people
who are vulnerable in whatever plan you have is that considered in the plan and
third in thinking about these plans what are they based on what assumptions
are they based on what goals do they have and what theory of change which is
an important idea and so what I’m going to do
here are is a list of some of the current proposals obviously I can’t go
through all of them I’ll go through three just to give you a sense of the
variety and we’re going to do a little analysis of these assumptions and theory
of change two of these actually are not proposals by individuals but are
actually bills that have been presented in the previous Congress there was off
fossil fuels Act and it was proposed by Tulsi Gabbard a representative from
Hawaii who was running for president and in this Congress environment energy
innovation and carbon dividend Act which is being championed by citizens climate
Lobby so let’s look at three plans one is from Lamar Alexander who has largely
been denying climate change until the proposal came out and he said you know
what climate change is real it is a problem so what what should we do the
only thing we should do he says is put a lot of government money into research
and development and he talks and then where is he going to put that money well
nuclear power he wants to give more money to natural gas carbon capture
technology and so on down the line and his proposal is to double the investment
in in this kind of research and development is that going to be enough
and fast enough I have my doubts but where is he coming from his assumption
is that climate change is a problem it’s not a crisis or an emergency and very
particularly a strong economy is necessary and that needs capitalism that
is largely unregulated by government that’s just an assumption that he starts
with so given those assumptions his goals are ok let’s speed up this
movement towards a clean energy economy we know it’s coming but maintain a
largely unregulated form of capitalism as we’re doing it and maintain the
current political system that we have the kind of status quo that’s
going on in Congress and so his theory of change how do you create change work
within the political and economic status quo avoid regulations putting a price on
carbon is going to make things more expensive we don’t want to do that but
government should assist capitalism and the corporation’s in making their
movement and that is his plan and why he thinks his plan and that’s the basic way
he thinks it’s going to get done and my question goes back to you is this going
to do enough fast enough much more more interesting is this proposal how many
people here have heard of carbon fee and dividend or carbon tax most of you okay
so I can be real quick a business okay so carbon fee you charge
fossil fuel companies a certain fee depending on how much fossil fuels
they’re digging out of the ground or however they are getting it the money
you Alec you get from that you have you send back to the American people
remember those checks the proposal here is that you would get quarterly checks
from the government so the government does not keep the money a problem a
concern for this kind of movement is leakage as they call it which means that
well if you make this will make fossil fuels coal oil gas more expensive in
this country so we’re going to end up just importing cheaper versions from
other countries like Australia that’s building us huge coal mine and you solve
that problem very easily in a sense it’s a border allocation you just charge them
the fee as they are importing it making a level playing field for those who are
producing the energy here or those who are producing it abroad and then here’s
the in a sense the trade-off for to try to get conservatives and corporations on
board they say look if we put this fee your production of fossil fuels we will
remove the regulations that we have on power plants and such like that so it is
moving to what’s called a market-based approach rather than government
regulation one of the keys of this carbon fee as most of you know is that
it increases every year in a predictable way corporations don’t like taxes but
they really hate uncertainty so if they know what the price of carbon will be in
five years and ten years then they can change the kinds of decisions they make
on investments and so on so that’s the trade-off but in certain factors like
gas mileage isn’t going to be really covered very much so
there are you can continue to have Auto mileage standards and other things but
this the main point here is you making fossil fuels more expensive but there
I’ll get to part of this the assumptions here is they totally believe we’re in a
crisis but they focus on it the problem is a market failure which means the
price of something doesn’t reflect the real cost of debt the costs are being
externalized so if you’re a factory that is creating energy and you’re sitting by
this river and your production is creating a toxic waste of one kind or
another you can spend a lot of money treating it in a proper and safe way or
you can dump it in the river and save a lot of money and your price will be
cheaper and you’ll be able to sell more that’s externalizing the cost because if
you dump it in the river then the government has to come in and
use taxpayer money to clean it up the people like you and me are going to have
to pay higher health costs and so there are all kinds of costs that happen as a
result of them trying to save money so that is externalization of cost that
causes a market failure so the point of the fee is
to incorporate those costs into the price of fossil fuels and that again
will level the playing field and if you in if you keep those costs in there with
the production then already renewable energy is cheaper than even coal in many
places of this country it’s just going to make for a much more rapid change to
clean energy so the goal is to transition to clean energy as fast as
possible there is a strong social justice component to this because if you
just raised the price of fossil fuels I’ll feel a bit of a pinch on that but
people who are struggling to get by are really going to be hurt if their heating
bills go up and their gasoline bills go up and so on down the line
but if they but if they’re getting the dividend then that problem of injustice
is avoided so what you end up doing is you create you try to solve this problem
with the framework of what we might call a corrected capitalism and so here’s the
theory of change and it is working within the political status quo not
trying to change that it’s not even trying to work towards getting somebody
unelected and somebody else elected because the argument goes that the only
way that we’re going to get substantive and enduring changes politically as if
we get conservatives on board so we need a policy that will appeal to
conservatives also we need to focus just on climate because if we start throwing
in grand social programs like a guaranteed job or universal health care
that will make it more difficult to get a bill passed so this theory of change
says you want to separate those things and so in order to accomplish this one
of the things you need to do is develop good relations with conservatives and so
there is a good friend of mine in Wausau every
month he’s part of citizens climate Lobby every month he goes to the local
office of our representative Sean Duffy with cookies so they’d really like to
see them and then but then when he comes there he starts talking about reminding
them about this proposal and why we need to go that route and so on down the line
so the theory of change is to try to convert the Conservatives in part by
building trust in part by lobbying and so the citizens climate Lobby every
month they send litters year after month after month year after year and once a
year they sent over a thousand people to Washington to directly lobby with people
so the idea here is that if you do this lobbying you will start converting
convincing conservatives because it is a market-based approach that doesn’t grow
government government just takes the money and sends it back to the people so
their assumptions are we’ve got this now we go to move to the green New Deal in
its assumptions and like like citizens climate Lobby it we are in a crisis but
it insists on the interconnection of climate and jobs and justice it focuses
on the fact that we have this obscene inequality in wealth in our country who
haven’t seen in almost a hundred years it focuses on there is climate injustice
increasing around the world and very importantly we live in a political
system that isn’t really a democracy that it is largely controlled by the
super-rich and the individual and especially with things like
gerrymandering which I’ll mention a little later politicians don’t need to
listen to their constituents because they know they’re gonna get reelected
anyway so the goals I’ve already talked about the goals of a rapid transition
and good jobs and particularly here a new era of government actively directing
the economy for the common good just the way kind of conception of
government as FDR had in the thirties so theory of change how does it see the
ways of making this change happen we have to start with what is necessary and
then change what is possible we have to change the political and economic status
quo by electing certain kinds of candidates who take the climate crisis
and injustice seriously and in order to do that we need a mass movement because
things there such inertia in our system that unless we get an outside push we’re
not going to make those kind of changes and to have a mass movement we need a
bold new vision that is going to inspire people and help direct that mass
movement so that we can get new people elected into government that can create
the changes that we need and if you don’t know that’s Greta tunberg who
talks to all these huge meetings of international people and it talks more
eloquently than I ever could this is I talked about the Sun rise movement as a
activist movement of young people in this country and this is one of the
there are people getting arrested in Washington DC another part of the theory
of change is that this problem is so complex it just has to involve
government it has to have something as large as government that is directing
things but at the same time it has to have substantial input from the people
so it is not just top-down and so we need people on the front line
communities who are helping to shape the particular bills going on now one of the
points to make about the green New Deal is its
been in one sense a stunning success so far so this gets started really get
talked about after ALC got elected and then the proposal in February so what
has happened since then well you go back to all the way back to 2000 Al Gore was
the candidate back then how often was climate change talked about how often
was climate change talked about in the primaries and 2/3 election of 2016 it
been ignored by both parties not anymore and so Wednesday and Thursday if they
don’t ask about the climate crisis there’s going to be hell to pay
so people almost all of the candidates are now coming out with their plans
because now it has to be talked about even Republicans like Lamar Alexander
and some other Republicans are coming up with their plans and they never would
have done that without that some cities Ithaca New York New York City Los
Angeles they are coming out with what they call their green new deal and
States Maine has adopted their green New Deal New York California again none of
this would have happened without and even other countries the political party
in Spain that made the biggest gains in their last election ran on a green new
deal for Spain so there’s just been astounding how much this has been picked
up so it hasn’t gotten to the point of particulars but it has changed the
political landscape substantially okay so if we want to make this happen how do
we make this happen well we’ve got obstacles to overcome and this is one of
my favorite graphs this is the percentage of people favoring of
different groups favoring a policy so if you’re over here that group likes it a
lot okay and if you’re over here the group opposes that all right this is the
likelihood of that bill getting passed okay so the higher you go
the more likely the bill is to get passed so this award-winning book the
influence of affluence looked at three different income groups low middle and
high if you have let’s say a bill and you are in low income if you oppose it
it’s got a certain degree of chance of getting passed if almost everybody in
your group likes it it’s got the same percentage of getting passed but how
about middle income same thing if middle income people oppose a bill or if they
really like the bill the chances of it being passed our unaffected the only
effect happens with the wealthy if they don’t like a bill if they don’t favor it
its chances of getting passed is really low if they really really like the bill
the chances of it getting passed are really strong so we’ve got a problem in
getting something like the green New Deal passed because we’ve got this
problem in what this professor called a broken democracy how are we going to get
climate policies passed with that kind of problem another kind of problem is a
lack of democracy as I mentioned hyper partisan gerrymandering obstacles to
voter registration vote suppression and this you may recognize in our last
election 53% of the people of Wisconsin voted for Democrats for assembly the
Republicans got 64% of the assembly seats it’s hard to overcome that when
you have a gerrymander like that right-wing media I have Google Alerts
for a green new deal and most of the ones I get are from Fox News Breitbart
daily signal all these conservative things because they are continually
talking about it and distorting what is going on and for many people that’s
their news they get their news from that so how do you overcome that that’s a big
problem I mentioned labor unions involved in the fossil fuel industries
somehow have to get brought on board or at least made not to oppose this if
you’re going to make inroads particularly a problem for Democratic
candidates who tend to count on union support for their election so that’s an
obstacle and a very big obstacle or what’s called centrist Democrats or
corporate Democrats or even neoliberal Democrats and there’s this thing called
the median voter theorem think of a bell curve you got a bell curve over here and
the median voter theorem says that if you want to win elections you want to be
in here okay you want to go for the median voters and so if your opponent
gets more and more that way will you move more and more closer to that person
so you’re going to get the big middle and if you have that kind of attitude
then you’re probably not going to like something like the green new deal
because it’s going to seem over on the other extreme and as one person put this
a critic of green New Deal the green new deal needs to Whittle itself down to
something that’s approachable to lawmakers palatable to the people and so
don’t be so ambitious about things because you’ll lose the median voters
the chief of staff of AOC in a sense of response to this even saying okay what
if we what if Democrats take over all of Congress and get a president on board
are we going to have a boring crappy vision that no one’s going to get
excited about or are we going to have an exciting vision that people will want to
come out and vote for so are you gonna vote for in a sense of the timid middle
or are you gonna try to create a movement where you are drawing new
people in especially young voters who tend not to vote that’s going to be a
big question and the Democrats are I think slowly kind of getting split on
the green new deal with a number of them being
centrist and others who are going to say we need a radical change so if we’re
going to create this what is required as I mentioned a mass movement because the
status quo even the establishment and the Democratic Party is not going to
change unless they see this kind of pressure from the outside and this is Ed
Markey who’s an insider in Congress and he’s saying we need this mass movement
coming around we also need a real democracy so one of the things I’m doing
right now up in my neck of the woods is working on a ballot referendum for fair
maps and for overturning citizens united we need if you want climate legislation
as this one professor said a few slides back we need a better democracy so last
slide what can we do well one thing is you need to keep learning about the
green New Deal it’s very complex there’s lots of information coming out it I’ve
created a Facebook page called green New Deal in the news where I post some of
the more important articles that come out including critiques of the green New
Deal which I posted this morning I also have links there I’m I’m obsessive okay
so I follow all these articles and then I have a list of articles and then I
give key points of each of the articles and I have those up publicly accessible
online if you want to see what the articles a lot of the articles are
saying about the green New Deal support these mass movements sunrise movement
needs your support if it’s going to do the kind of things that it’s going to do
350.org has been another one at the forefront of this it’s an international
organization working on climate change participate in groups if you have a
local group whether it’s citizens climate Lobby or it’s our Wisconsin
revolution or it’s something else but there are groups that are working
towards making big change tell others about it and support candidates who are
really going to adopt the policies that will respond to the
scale of the problem so that’s my song and dance and I thank you for your
attention I know this was a long gig but I’d like to see what your comments are
and your questions so thanks for being a good audience

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