The Green New Deal Could Create Lots of Great Jobs – So Why All the Hate?
Why does the Fox News crowd hate the Green New Deal?
It’s a head scratcher. Imagine you said, “Hey, we’ve got a plan to create hundreds of thousands of jobs. And many of them will be in poorer and rural areas struggling to find a direction in the twenty-first century. Oh, and it’ll mean healthier communities for families across the country. Plus, it’ll help solve the climate crisis.”
You’d think the same voices that claim to be speaking up for working families and rural communities would be all for it, right?
But instead, we keep hearing all kinds of cynical criticism of the Green New Deal. Much of it predicated on outright denial of the climate crisis – or at least the scale of the threat, even after the role it played in flooding farms across the US Midwest earlier this year.
It’ll be too expensive. (Compared to unmitigated climate change? Get out of here.) It’s too risky. (Nah. Not taking action while we can is the real risk.) It’s unrealistic. (It’ll definitely be a lift, there’s no denying. But large-scale climate action is very feasible. When did “ambitious” become a synonym for “unworkable”?)
Some pundits even want you to believe it means Big Government meanies are coming for your cheeseburger because cows fart sometimes. (Stop. It. Right. Now.)
While there are worthwhile questions to be asked about the particulars of the Green New Deal, maybe the most important question we should be asking right now is, “Why not?”
Why not make a just transition to clean energy and put hundreds of thousands of Americans to work along the way? Why not give fossil fuel workers in dying industries new careers with a future? Why not tackle the existential threat staring us right in the face while we still have time?
What a lot of critics also conveniently forget to mention is that the Green New Deal is a resolution that says where we want to go, not a bill spelling out how we get there. It’s a framework, a rallying cry, a big-swing pitch. Many of its goals are finish lines. What they end up being in their finished form and how we get there are up to us.
We’re not saying it’s going to be easy. We’re just saying the stakes couldn’t be bigger, so why not try.
In one of the more-concise explanations we’ve seen, the good people at Vox put it pretty perfectly: “Without concerted global action — and with a few bad breaks on climate sensitivity, population, and fossil fuel projections — the worst-case scenarios include civilization-threatening consequences that will be utterly disastrous for most of the planet’s species.”
Suddenly, it feels an awful lot like work worth doing, doesn’t it?
It should. And beyond the consequences of inaction, here’s the thing: in reality, the Green New Deal could be an incredible boon to the American people. Executed smartly and in good faith, it could help us make the massive cuts in emissions by 2030 that scientists say are necessary to avoid global catastrophe.
Plus, as we keep saying, it will also mean jobs. Lots of them. In industries both new and existing across the economy.
The Green New Deal is an ambitious pitch. It would transform our energy systems, improve how we build buildings for efficiency, upgrade infrastructure to make them more affordable and more resilient, and much more.
But that should sound like something else to you too. It should sound an awful lot like gigs up and down the line, from engineers to solar panel installers, architects to welders, scientists to electricians and construction workers, and everything in between.
If that sounds as good to you as it does to us, join us as we dig into the nitty gritty – or as much of it as we can at this early point – of what the Green New Deal could mean for working Americans like you.
UNMITIGATED CLIMATE CHANGE MEANS DISASTER
We’re not going to dwell too long here. We’re already seeing the effects of a world transformed by rising temperatures and changing climate patterns everywhere from our well-being to our wallets. As terrifying as the stronger Atlantic hurricanes and California wildfires have been – to pick only a couple results – if we don’t act in a big way, things could get much, much worse.
Let’s start with the biggest headline news impacts. The climate crisis means more extreme weather. Which means more damaged infrastructure, more lives and livelihoods lost to hurricanes, floods, and wildfires.
It means many more people in danger from an ever-expanding list of health risks, from heart and lung diseases linked to poor air quality to heat-related illness to vector-borne tropical diseases spreading far outside the tropics.
It means rising seas lapping up beaches and homes and entire cities. It means more heat waves, drought, and erratic rainfall. And as a result, it means more crop failure and millions worrying about worries about basic food and water security.
Without swift action to mitigate this crisis, these changes could ultimately transform the planet in ways that undermine its capacity to support a large and thriving human population.
If you’d like more detail, we suggest:
- Wait, Why Is Climate Change a Bad Thing?
- Extreme Weather and The Climate Crisis: The Facts
- 7 Questions About the Climate Crisis You Might Be Embarrassed to Ask
THE PEOPLE WANT ACTION
Here’s something Fox News doesn’t often (ever?) mention: More people than ever believe urgent action on climate change should be a national priority in the US.
A major 2018 Pew Research Center poll found that 59 percent of Americans consider the climate crisis a major threat to our country. (That’s well below the global median of 67 percent, but it’s a strong and fast-growing majority, so we’ll take it!) Twenty-three percent more consider climate change a threat, though a more minor one.
It’s unsurprising then that “two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) say the government is doing too little to reduce the effects of climate change,” according to Pew. And that a 56 percent majority of US adults believe that protecting the environment should be a top priority for the president and Congress.
Many of these polls find sharp partisan divides on climate and what to do about it, but even that is beginning to change, particularly among the young people who will bear the brunt of this crisis.
Pew found that Millennial Republicans were twice as likely as their cohorts in the Baby Boomer or older generations to believe the planet is warming because of human activity.
And a majority of them now support action to stop it.
In a study done by the conservative nonprofit Alliance for Market Solutions (AMS), as reported by Think Progress, “More than three out of four (77 percent) young voters think we should try to stop or slow climate change, including 89 percent of Democrats, 77 percent of independents, and 57 percent of Republicans. Only 10 percent of millennial voters oppose climate action.”
We’ve often said, to change everything, we need everyone. It looks like we’re getting closer to that goal every day.
And it’s a good thing too, because folks from across the political spectrum, in states across the country, will benefit from large-scale climate action. Not only will it – oh, you know, help end the existential threat of climate change – it will mean jobs. Lots of them. And good ones, too.
JOBS, JOBS, JOBS
As we’ve explained, the actual details of the Green New Deal remain to be sorted out, but one area that seems undisputable is its potential to create new, good jobs across the economy.
“The Green New Deal raises more questions than it answers at the moment, but nevertheless, one vision it holds is exciting and solid — the notion that the transition to a cleaner economy can be expected to bring jobs for all kinds of workers,” the Brookings Institution writes.
We’re talking engineers and technicians, solar installers and building retrofitters. We’re talking “all the workers who oversee renewable energy facilities, manufacture energy-efficient appliances, construct green buildings, and so on.”
In a separate study, Brookings notes that “320 unique occupations spread across three major industrial sectors: clean energy production, energy efficiency, and environmental management” will be central to the transition to the clean energy economy.
These jobs will be incredibly varied, and those that already exist pay better than the national hourly wages average – 8 to 19 percent better. They’ll also be more equitable, with workers at even the lower end of the income spectrum earning $5 to $10 more per hour than they might in other jobs.
What’s not to like here?
JOIN US TO SUPPORT GOOD JOBS
The bottom line is this: The Green New Deal sets a pretty ambitious target for where the US can go. We don’t have the hard details of how we get there yet.
But even now, it contains a blueprint to a future powered not by the fossil fuels driving the climate crisis but by clean, renewable energy. The transition to that future could become a windfall for communities from Appalachia to Atlanta and beyond. It’s time to stop giving partisan labels and making cynical attacks on something that has incredible potential for all Americans (except fossil fuel CEOs).
And the time to start gearing up for that future is now.
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