What have you been told about going green?
They'll tell you it's about banning plastic straws, driving a hybrid or some shit or using tubeless toothpaste. That somehow if we just do these things, we will be able to reinvigorate our planet enough to pivot the trajectory of global warming. And that is the lie that has been fed to us for decades. It is much bigger than that.
Whether it is through denial, partisanship or simply unawareness–we mustn't lose touch of the scale and magnitude of the emergency confronting us. While it is true that we must all do our part to make environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible choices, well-funded chemical industry interests are running wild and left unchecked. And the consequences are devastating. I see Chevron, Exxon, BP and Shell–just four corporations free to produce 10% of the world’s carbon emissions, and no one even bats an eyelash. I see direct annual subsidies to the fossil fuel industry that amounts to roughly $20 billion per year of taxpayer money. I see the environmental marginalization of places like Kettleman City–a primarily working-class Latino small town, located just 3 miles from corporate toxic waste dumps, where mothers clamor for justice while holding newborns with visible deformities. So yeah, these really are the stakes in which we are dealing with here. That is what the environmental debate is really about. It’s really about power.
And it’s a lot. At the end of the day, I am just an ordinary young person who is scared about what the climate crisis means for the people and places I love. However, when representative Alexandria Orcasio-Cortez proposed The Green New Deal, I believe I saw a slight bend in the moral arc of history that day. It is a congressional resolution that redesigns the very mechanism by which environmental resources are distributed. According to a survey conducted by NPR, The Green New Deal’s proposals–now reaching majority favorability amongst registered voters–are still relatively new. It has three primary goals: 1) fully transition away from a carbon-based economy 2) invest in new industries that would see a rise from the subsequent transition—namely in green technology, sustainable agriculture, public transportation and 3) boost the overall health of the economy by creating living wage green industry jobs in distressed, often overlooked communities. And yeah, this is no easy feat. Skepticism of cost and feasibility are legitimate concerns. Fine-tuning of the plan may be necessary in the future, but evidently, The Green New Deal may be the only shot we have in actually tackling our most pressing environmental threats. In fact, it is the only way to address the interdisciplinary nature of economic inequality, racial inequality and environmental inequality at the scale that science and justice demand.