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December 18, 2018 9:03 AM   Subscribe

With a new nationally representative survey of registered voters shows that 81% support a “Green New Deal” for the U.S and strong bipartisan support, what even is The Green New Deal? A Primer on the Green New Deal—the Plan to Literally Save the Planet (Paste) “CJA says any jobs plan should restore and protect workers’ rights to organize and form unions, and it should be predicated on non-extractive policies that build “local community wealth that is democratically governed.” Any deal must ensure “free, prior and informed consent by Indigenous peoples,” CJA insists, and should be directed by those communities bearing the brunt of the “dig, burn, dump” economy.” We Have To Make Sure the “Green New Deal” Doesn’t Become Green Capitalism. (In These Times) “There is an uncomfortable scientific truth that has to be faced: economic growth is environmentally unsustainable.” (Degrowth.org) Is there any green policy plan that can go far enough or be global enough (Naked Capitalism) considering the U.S Military is one of the largest polluters on the planet?
posted by The Whelk (35 comments total) 41 users marked this as a favorite
 
Go ahead and tell me that they can't put coal miners to working instead on projects like brownfield cleanups, wetlands restoration, or refitting buildings to be more energy-efficient. Same for former auto workers or manufacturing people. These are workers who already have skills with their hands, and they are scattered across the country (so it doesn't automatically require mass migration).

Damn right I would like to see a new CCC. Let college kids work off student loans; let displaced workers from shitty extractive industries run the crews and teach the youngsters. Let people in the trades come and go from the effort to cross-pollinate skills.

RE-OPEN THE GOT-DAMN INTERSTATE REST STOPS!
posted by wenestvedt at 9:38 AM on December 18, 2018 [26 favorites]


I'm not well versed on the details, but at the very least, the Green New Deal is a great -- not slogan, it's much more than that -- um, framing concept? Broad strokes idea?

You combine saving the earth, promoting US technology and jobs, and a real infrastructure week. When Republicans complain about money, you can add "a reason to repeal the corporate and rich person tax cuts."
posted by msalt at 9:39 AM on December 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


Economic growth is fueled by debt, which corresponds to a colonization of the future. This debt cannot be paid, and the financial system is prone to instability.

This is the key point, also mentioned in a Charles Mudede piece here.

Compound interest must be paid through compounding growth.
posted by Mei's lost sandal at 10:20 AM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


I like the idea and framing, and it doesn't surprise me you can get broad support for it, at least when it's at such an abstract level. Generally the opposition happens when you start getting down to goring someone's particular pet ox, not an abstract one. (E.g. when you start picking which coal mines or power plants to close down, i.e. which coalpatch town gets to skate a bit longer than the next one down the highway.)

Though I don't know how much weight I'd put on that 81% number, given that 82% percent of people hadn't heard of the GND before the survey. That means nearly all the positive responses could have come from the result of a really good sales pitch.

Given that most Democratic-leaning voters are likely to support something like this right out of the gate, the challenge is basically selling the mushy middle and the Right on it. Our political system is very carefully designed to not allow sweeping changes without a very strong majority, meaning that you can't just ignore the voters you think are morons and run over them. IMO, that attitude has led the Left to focus too hard on the judicial system and too little on the legislative one over the past ~30 years, which has been effective, but produces brittle victories: it's why we're one heartbeat away from losing generations of progress on a dozen key issues. Judicial victories only require you to convince a handful of people of the reasonableness of your position; the more defensible progress of legislative victories requires broad support, often including really disagreeable people.

To that end, I'd lean hard on the economic benefits of this. Green energy will be cheaper in the long run, better for American industry, better for jobs, better for rural economies, etc.
posted by Kadin2048 at 11:54 AM on December 18, 2018 [10 favorites]


I have no opinion on the substance of the proposal, but as far as the survey, it is a piece of... shall we say, in the spirit of the topic, biodegradable mammalian waste?

"Some members of Congress are proposing a 'Green New Deal' for the U.S. They say that a Green New Deal will produce jobs and strengthen America’s economy by accelerating the transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. The Deal would generate 100% of the nation’s electricity from clean, renewable sources within the next 10 years; upgrade the nation’s energy grid, buildings, and transportation infrastructure; increase energy efficiency; invest in green technology research and development; and provide training for jobs in the new green economy. How much do you support or oppose this idea?"

What's amazing is that this phrasing got only 81 percent support.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:56 AM on December 18, 2018 [8 favorites]


You have to factor in America's 20% crazification factor (i.e. the people who thought Bush was doing a good job at the end of his second term)
posted by JDHarper at 12:02 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


The Deal would generate 100% of the nation’s electricity from clean, renewable sources within the next 10 years

If Congress could make that happen by passing laws, they would have already. Even as vile and pro-coal as they currently are. The real reason we haven't switched to renewable sources is that they don't provide enough energy to cover our current usage habits.

Note: Not, "they don't provide enough to cover our needs." But the whole "1.2 cars/family" thing, and thousands of airplane flights per day, and 24/7 unlimited electricity for any purpose (koff *bitcoin* koff)... those all have to change.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:18 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


That's not true, renewable electricity is already cheaper per megawatt than coal, gas or nuclear.

This is a commonly held misconception around climate change action. The reality is we have all the money, and the technology, we need to take serious action right now - and it will result in economic growth, not loss.

The only barriers are the political, and the carbon industry. We don't need to destroy capitalism or live in mud huts to beat climate change. Indeed we don't have to really do much at all, our leaders need to regulate, incentivise, and penalise, that's literally all we need.
posted by smoke at 12:24 PM on December 18, 2018 [12 favorites]


renewable electricity is already cheaper per megawatt than coal, gas or nuclear

Only as long as you don't factor in the cost of materials and storage batteries. Over time, they're cheaper, but the ramp-up costs are extensive, and that's before discussing the logistics of creating or converting power plants and setting up distribution systems.

I am entirely in favor of switching to renewable energy sources, as fast as possible. But we can't just unplug the current power sources and hook into solar, wind, geothermal, tidal, etc; we'll need decentralized power, and that will include a lot of changes to the entire energy infrastructure - including cutting out a lot of unnecessary uses.

I don't mean, "we'll all be in mud huts." I mean, "there are over 275 million cars in the US," not all of which are going to be replaced with solar-powered electric vehicles in the next 10 years.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:46 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


... it is critical for social movement groups to fight for the best possible version of the deal—and ensure that it does not include false solutions such as “carbon markets, offsets and emissions trading regimes or geoengineering technologies.”

The entire "greening" process, as no one can doubt, is a transition process. Some things are ramped out and some things are ramped in. The big argument for extracting high corporate capital returns in the established landscape, is that they put in the up-front investment, and now have a right to recoup that.

But what about the green technologies that are merely promising at this point? Who will support all that open-ended research and development? As the old fades out, some parts will fade faster than others. If you are one of those "olds" trying to hang on a little longer, then "offsets and emissions trading regimes" could be a source of development money for promising technologies, and if you organize your activities to fund a kind of "carbon futures" swap during the transition, then I'm for that.
posted by StickyCarpet at 1:00 PM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]




Pretty much every serious study of climate change has long depressing section that amounts to "This is a really big problem and all the mitigations you've heard of aren't enough."

The only rational response to this is gulp hard and get to work. The Green New Deal is probably not enough but it's a great place to start, and way better than the current plan, which is "increase coal emissions, increase pollution, and screw the world to own the libs".

Defeatism, like the guy averring that "our collective goose is cooked", is as bad as climate denial. If we're broiling in the Max Max post-apocalyptia and your grandkids asked you what you did, "I damped down enthusiasm for change" is not going to be a good look.

Things change when you focus resources and effort on them. Renewable energy has made enormous progress in the last 20 years. When we started the space program we had no way to get to the moon. The original New Deal didn't look like a big success in 1934.

And for those who are worried about capitalism— 1) You won't get socialism in Post-Apocalyptia, so avoiding climate disaster is a socialist act. 2) Addressing climate change will require massive government coordination, dethroning fossil fuel companies, regulating business, rethinking transportation, increasing taxes— all opportunities to move toward a more just as well as a sustainable economy.
posted by zompist at 2:05 PM on December 18, 2018 [16 favorites]


The big controversy/danger in the Green New Deal is going to be the question of whether nuclear power plants are considered "green." I'm not thrilled about it but it's not an entirely black and white question given the urgency of the problem.
posted by msalt at 2:52 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Only as long as you don't factor in the cost of materials and storage batteries. Over time, they're cheaper, but the ramp-up costs are extensive

THIS is only true if you ignore all of the subsidies for fossil fuels (depletion allowance) and nuclear power (cap on liability, government funded research and waste disposal). Remove those tomorrow and no one would consider either, except possibly some natural gas.
posted by msalt at 2:54 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


“There is an uncomfortable scientific truth that has to be faced: economic growth is environmentally unsustainable.”

I do not think that is a scientific fact. And I do not think it is clear that he understands what economic growth means.

Economic growth is fueled by debt, which corresponds to a colonization of the future. This debt cannot be paid, and the financial system is prone to instability.

This sounds like the spiel from Republicans and Fix the Debt centrists.
posted by JackFlash at 2:58 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


Canada has had The Leap Manifesto for a few years, a Canadian version of The Green New Deal.

Brace yourselves for a wave of shitty propaganda opposed to the idea pushed hard in all of the traditional media outlets.
posted by ovvl at 3:23 PM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


“There is an uncomfortable scientific truth that has to be faced: economic growth is environmentally unsustainable.”

I do not think that is a scientific fact. And I do not think it is clear that he understands what economic growth means.


Growth based on debt is unsustainable; it requires future generations to be more productive, more profitable than the current one. Without ever-increasing debt thrown into the future, we can still have economic growth that's based on increased efficiencies and innovative technology, but that's not going to be consistent and reliable. Sometimes, you just won't get more than you did last year, and eventually, production levels flatline.

The good news is, we don't need continual economic growth; we just need enough production to allow everyone to live reasonably comfortably, and we do have the resources for that. We just also have a whole lot of rich people who think "live comfortably" is several steps down from what they want, and a whole lot of racists who can't stand the idea that people who aren't white could also be living comfortably.

(Oh, and we have entire schools of economics and production systems that have no idea what a sustainable, renewable economy looks like; they assume "steady-state" means "stagnation.")
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:42 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


Honestly I don't even care that much what this very hypothetical "Green New Deal" would be, exactly. Just do something. Do anything. It needs to be big, probably much, much bigger than the original New Deal if it's going to matter, but the broad strokes of what must be done have been clear for decades. Just do it.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:41 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


All this ramping up, ramping down, cap-and-trade, let's-make-a-graceful-transition stuff stopped being valid like 20 years ago. At this point it's a choice of how much pain we want to go through and how much we're going to damage the biosphere in the process. Do we want a lot of pain and a lot of damage, or do we want total collapse? It's a choice between awful and catastrophic. We ran ourselves out of good options a long time ago, and even the most radical solutions we could employ now would only stave off the worst of the damage. Anything less than radical is almost pointless on a macro level.

That's reality. We can face it or not, but that's the world we have made for ourselves.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:51 PM on December 18, 2018 [6 favorites]



renewable electricity is already cheaper per megawatt than coal, gas or nuclear

Only as long as you don't factor in the cost of materials and storage batteries.


EE here. And I work in financing renewables. And I have to remind you all that electricity comes with two costs that you have to take into account:

Cost per megawatt - i.e. capital cost, i.e. upfront cost.
Cost per megawatt-HOUR - operating cost. Recurring cost.

For the latter of these criteria, wind beats all other sources hands down. The wind is free. The only cost is wear and tear (some of which is incurred whether you're spinning or not, so it doesn't count).

For the former, well, it depends on a lot of context. You're combining copper, iron, aluminum, silicon, carbon fiber, fiber glass into a high tech shape and hten installing it. That's a lot of money compared to generating assets that are already operating.
posted by ocschwar at 5:33 PM on December 18, 2018 [6 favorites]


An acquaintance (who actually works in oil and gas) showed me something the other day that made me a little hopeful. Renewable energy is looking more and more competitive in Texas, of all states. As it turns out, while there's a lot of fossil fuel money in Texas, there's also a lot of good real estate for wind turbines and a lot of sun.

Of course, as lots of people have said in the thread, that's just electricity. But that line about going 100 percent renewable was also only making that claim for electricity.
posted by atoxyl at 10:10 PM on December 18, 2018


I'm apparently in a curmudgeonly mood tonight but I hope people here still want to save the planet if it turns out the sacrifices are not all imposed on rich Republicans. Saving the planet and getting the progressive agenda through aren't really accepting trade offs for most of us.

I would not be surprised if actually doing something required many rich people getting richer as they profit off construction and innovation. Or if people get paid to retire fossil fuel plants they were building the same time they were funding climate denial.
posted by mark k at 10:49 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]


oschwar, where does PV fit into that rubric? My understanding is that PV is the cheapest energy source to build on a per-megawatt basis (and then the sun is of course free to use) but I work in PV, so I may be getting biased information. How does it rank?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 1:54 AM on December 19, 2018


ocschwar, sorry. What I get for commenting before caffeine.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 2:25 AM on December 19, 2018


You can have economic growth without having resource-consumption growth. And concerns about productivity flatlining seem overstated. That's basically saying that there's going to be a point where nobody is able to look at a process and figure out how to do it slightly better or more efficiently. That doesn't seem likely, particularly when the natural human desire for novelty produces constantly-shifting consumer desires that need to be responded to.

There are certain growth metrics which are absolutely unsustainable. Population growth, resource-extraction growth, etc. Those are things that we need to be extremely wary of. Personally I get a bit ragey whenever I hear about the "problem" of not-increasing-as-quickly-anymore population trends, as though it's totally normal to keep doubling the number of people on the planet and expect nothing to go wrong. That's total madness.

But economics? It would get a bit weird, but you could still have growth economics in a hypothetical Fully Automated Luxury [Sexuality of Your Choice] Space Mixed Economy, where all foodstuff and basic living necessities come from the Infallible Minds or replicators or whatever. Training is basically your capital expense, equivalent to purchasing machinery in an industrialized economy, time is the variable input and also the value-add, and some sort of intellectual product that other people want to buy is the output. Productivity growth happens because people find ways of producing the same output in less time; i.e. if I can produce plans for the replicator to make cool shit faster than someone else yet sell them for the same price, I'm more productive. People will presumably invest money based on a sort of CAPEX calculation in additional training if they think the productivity output they'll get is justified. You can base your entire economy including lending at interest and inflationary fiat currency off that. It basically becomes people borrowing against their future time to purchase other people's time today; all currency becomes reducible to labor hours (not surprising depending on the economic model you come in with), but with a significant skill multiplier since not everyone's time is equally valuable to others.

The danger, IMO, is that today we use a lot of proxy metrics for economic growth that are either directly tied to unsustainable activities, or are so polluted (metaphorically, sometimes literally) with unsustainable activities that using them as KPIs is a very bad idea. It's easier in the short run to boost the numbers by doing unsustainable stuff, so that's what happens when we focus on "economic growth" as a goal. But that doesn't mean that economic growth as an abstract concept is impossible, or antithetical to sustainability.

You could certainly have, and we might someday achieve, a political system that doesn't aim for economic growth or perhaps even view it as an unalloyed good (it does produce a lot of social disruption as a consequence of productivity; we typically view this as a good thing, at least in the West, but that's not inarguable), but I wouldn't want to make taking action on climate change have to wait around for that to happen first. That's practically defeatism given the difficulty of widespread change.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:32 PM on December 19, 2018 [3 favorites]




oschwar, where does PV fit into that rubric? My understanding is that PV is the cheapest energy source to build on a per-megawatt basis (and then the sun is of course free to use) but I work in PV, so I may be getting biased information. How does it rank?


Utility solar probably beats wind for installation cost because you have a simple construction project without the logistical challenges of moving and installing turbine blades.

Rooftop solar, well, that's not quite an apples to oranges comparison, more like apples to apples except you're in eastern Kazakhstan where every orchard grows a different strain of apple tree.
posted by ocschwar at 7:43 PM on December 19, 2018 [2 favorites]


We Don't Have To Grow The Economy
posted by The Whelk at 9:56 PM on December 19, 2018


Rooftop solar is really more about the social and evironmental benefits, in my opinion. The economic case is much more of a case-by-case thing that depends on the site, the needs of the customer, and the regulatory/incentive environment—it's an awesome deal for some homeowners, doesn't make sense at all for others.

Utility-scale solar seems like it's really where it's at. Personally I think the community solar model is a pretty great one but at the end of the day we're not going to solve this problem by picking off individual end users. There will always be a role for the utilities.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:00 AM on December 20, 2018




Jonathan Chait: "So the Green New Deal plan, via @drvox, is first demand Democrats support a slogan and then figure out if they can actually design a plan that does it"

Peter Gowan: "So the Moon Landing plan, via JFK, is first demand Democrats support a slogan and then figure out if they can actually design a plan that does it"
posted by homunculus at 1:15 AM on December 22, 2018 [4 favorites]


How would the kind of mass retraining that would be necessary to facilitate this happen? Is part of the GND the introduction and promotion of the changes in lifestyle that a large scale transition to cleaner energy may demand of the average American, or is that a subsequent step?
posted by Selena777 at 5:13 PM on December 22, 2018


Well, my company will train anyone with a good attitude, a bit of construction background, and a willingness to get up on a roof in the middle of the winter and bust ass for eight hours straight day after day. If you have an electrician's license you're good as gold, and if you don't then we have an internal state-accredited school that will help you get one.

A lot of construction is like that. Just talk your way into letting them try you, show willing, and then gradually work your way up. I'm not saying it's easy, just that on-the-job training is pretty standard.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:34 PM on December 24, 2018 [1 favorite]


The case against human extinction
posted by The Whelk at 4:51 AM on December 25, 2018




“The Best of a Bad Situation,” n+1, Winter 2019
posted by ob1quixote at 7:47 PM on January 7


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