In my home state of Colorado, a fire that’s spanned over 100,000 acres has made the mountains invisible. Last week, we had three inches of snow and a record temperature drop. The sky in California is red. This increase in extreme weather and natural disasters is just a taste of what will happen in the coming decades if the problem of climate change is not dealt with.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that an average temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrialized levels will lead to disaster, with millions of people becoming refugees, a complete collapse in food production and wars over water. To stop a climate fallout, greenhouse gas emissions need to be at a net zero by 2050—we have ten years to get on track for this. This is a genuinely apocalyptic situation heightened by our government’s inaction over the past ten years. So, if the Green New Deal seems like an extreme solution, it is—for an extreme problem.
The most common argument against the Green New Deal is about how much it would cost. It’s expensive to provide jobs and get to 100 percent clean energy, but the IPCC projects that the U.S. will lose about $500 billion in annual economic output by 2100 due to climate change. The possible economic effects created by combating climate change pale in comparison to the unprecedented economic collapse that the climate crisis will create.
Also, it’s cheaper to use clean energy. For the parts of the country that already use it, it’s the most affordable option. Sometimes, industries die off. This post-industrialized world is cursed by our continuing reliance on oil. It’s an unstable commodity, much of which comes from overseas. Jobs will be lost in the transition away from oil, but more can easily be created in clean energy. Sadly, the amount of money and political power that the fossil fuel industry and our largest corporations have is obscene. This is why we need to enact strong legislation to make the switch to renewable energy happen.
The Green New Deal is much more concerned with aiding the U.S. economy than most people realize. The deal mitigates the threat of climate change while bolstering economic output and improving the lives of workers. You could whine about the program being too socialist, but programs like President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal massively stimulated the economy while making life better for the people. We can do that again.
Last year, I joined the Sunrise Movement, a group of youth climate activists fighting for a Green New Deal and a liveable future. It’s amazing how passionate and energetic young people are about the climate, but it is because we have to be. We’re going to be the first generation to experience the effects of the climate crisis fully, but we can also be the one to stop it.
Great strides have already been made, such as the primary wins of climate champions like Senator Ed Markey. But we need to do more. We need to listen to science and reason, and therefore, we need to make 2021 the year of the Green New Deal.
Check out congress.gov to learn more about the Green New Deal.
Charlotte is from Boulder, CO.