Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez pressure Congress to declare climate change a national emergency

(CNN)Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont teamed up with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Oregon’s Rep. Earl Blumenauer on Tuesday to unveil a new resolution that would declare climate change a national emergency.

“There is a climate emergency which demands a massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes,” the bill’s authors wrote. While it does not call for specific action, the legislation states in sharp terms that climate change is a human-made problem that threatens the fortunes of millions of Americans and demands immediate political action.”
The largely symbolic legislation has little chance of making any headway in the Republican-held Senate, but it provides Sanders — who has proposed radical steps to effectively wipe out the fossil fuel industry — with a tangible example of his efforts to take on major problems of particular concern to young voters.
While the Senate resolution originates out of Sanders’ Capitol Hill office, it has obvious implications in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. The Vermont independent has found himself lagging behind former Vice President Joe Biden, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a progressive ally who recently rolled out a preview of her vision for the Green New Deal, is surging. Sen. Kamala Harris of California, too, is enjoying a post-debate bump. Sanders and his team have projected confidence despite the bouncing poll numbers, plowing ahead with policy rollouts and proposals designed to highlight his progressive credentials and priorities. MORE
Warren kicks off Midwest swing with plan for what ‘Green New Deal’ might look like

Bill McKibben Talks About “Falter”

“One of the most positive things that’s happening now is the Green New Deal work, and also the school climate strikes—which I hope will spread to adults before long. The spread of the idea about the Green New Deal is a good thing. The more people talk about it and consider it and think about it, the closer we’ll get for people to understand the scale of action that we need. This is a crisis, as big as World War II or the Depression, and so the means that we need to fight it are going to be on the same scale.” — Bill McKibben

The climate action pioneer’s new book explores what it means to be human COURTESY OF NANCIE BATTAGLIA

Journalist and activist Bill McKibben is back with another book about the crushing realities of climate change.

The author of 1989’s The End of Nature, often acknowledged as the first book for a general audience about what used to be known as “the greenhouse effect,” McKibben has been writing about climate issues for three decades.

About 10 years ago, he cofounded, the first “planet-wide grassroots climate change movement.” has organized more than 20,000 rallies across the globe in protest of fossil fuels and has promoted the growing fossil fuel divestment movement.

In Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out?, out last month from Henry Holt, McKibben surveys the state of havoc caused by climate change, identifies those institutions and individuals that ignore or actively abet it, and turns his attention to new technologies poised to change the very essence of what it means to be human. He also finds a measure of hope for the future, relying on the power of cheap energy and nonviolent resistance.

Sierra recently called up McKibben to discuss climate change, Ayn Rand, and artificial intelligence. MORE


Sorry, Critics Tell Warren, Greening US Empire’s “Powerful War Machine” No Answer to Climate Crisis

“…trying to “green” the Pentagon without addressing the destructive impacts of its bloated budget and American imperialism is a misguided way to combat the emergency of global warming.”

“Fighting the climate crisis is not about enabling the largest and most powerful military in human history to be more efficient in its destructive missions.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Wednesday unveiled a climate plan for the U.S. military that was quickly criticized by progressives. (Photo: Elizabeth Warren/Facebook)

Anti-war critics are responding to Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s new climate “resiliency and readiness” proposal to reform the U.S. military with warnings that trying to “green” the Pentagon without addressing the destructive impacts of its bloated budget and American imperialism is a misguided way to combat the emergency of global warming.

The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be ‘green.'” —Naomi Klein, author and activist

Warren is an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal resolution that was introduced in February, just two days before the Massachusetts Democrat officially kicked off her 2020 presidential campaign.

Like several other proposals since then, Warren unveiled the Defense Climate Resiliency and Readiness Act in a Medium post Wednesday. But unlike many of her other proposals—from breaking up big tech and wiping out student debt to establishing universal childcare—this latest one was met with deep concern, not praise, from progressives.

Naomi Klein @NaomiAKlein

<@ewarren is running a great campaign but when it comes to climate breakdown, this is *not* a plan for that. The most powerful war machine on the planet is never going to be “green.” The outrageous military budget needs to be slashed to help pay for a Global Green New Deal.

— Naomi Klein (@NaomiAKlein) May 15, 2019

Klein’s comments were echoed by other critics of Warren’s proposal, who instead called for curbing the Pentagon’s massive carbon footprint “through shrinking the military and ending empire.” Some pointed out that, by contrast, another 2020 candidate and backer of the Green New Deal, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), aims to “meaningfully [confront] imperialism.” MORE


The Interlocking Crises: War and Climate Chaos

Young People and Climate Change: Why it’s our Time to Take the Reins

“If the environment is being degraded so that with passing time it produces and supports less, then that impoverishes future generations. It means that the current generation is essentially stealing from the next.” Just as we have issues of justice (or more likely lack thereof) between classes, genders, races, countries – we also have justice between generations–intergenerational justice.

We live at a crossroads in history.

Decades have passed, and people are still saying the same thing. In the 70’s, environmentalists in the baby boomer generation wanted to protect the planet for their grandchildren.

Almost five decades later, and those grandchildren they were talking about had time to be born and grow up, and they’re us.

Carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas responsible for causing climate change via the greenhouse effect, can hang around in the atmosphere for 100 years or more once it gets up there.

This fact of chemistry is what drives the entire issue of intergenerational justice when it comes to climate change.

The last few months of 2018 and early 2019 have seen historic levels of climate activism and public attention. Something seems to have finally shifted.

One of the most inspiring things in the climate space right now is the explosion of youth-led climate activism. From Extinction Rebellion that was recently holding mass protests in London to the Sunrise Movement and the Green New Deal to the School Strikes for Climate movement – it’s in the air.

School Strike for Climate Young people and climate change
School Strike for Climate march, Melbourne, 30th November 2018. By julian meehan on Flickr, Creative Commons license.

And it’s having an effect. The UK Parliament recently became the first in the world to declare a climate emergency.

Across the pond in the US, it’s also the young people that are pushing the climate movement forward.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman to be elected to Congress, is making waves by pushing the Green New Deal – an ambitious policy package for transitioning the US to a net-zero economy through a ‘just transition’, investing in infrastructure, jobs and marginalised communities.

This bold proposal – which would have been totally unthinkable just a couple of years ago – is now being pushed right into the mainstream at an astonishing rate. MORE

Sanders Says Biden’s “Middle Ground” Approach to Climate Crisis Would “Doom Future Generations

The message is clear: there is no ‘middle ground’ when dealing with the  climate emergency. Fossil fuel interests will have to stop expansion projects and leave it in the ground.

The Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate said the U.S. must commit to “fully transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels” 

“There is no ‘middle ground’ when it comes to climate policy,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders, a 2020 presidential candidate. (Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Without mentioning Joe Biden by name, Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday slammed the centrist climate policy reportedly being craftedby the former vice president’s 2020 campaign as a dangerously inadequate approach that would “doom future generations.”

“There is no ‘middle ground’ when it comes to climate policy,” the Vermont senator tweeted, quoting from a Reuters report on Biden’s efforts to develop a climate plan that would leave the door open to so-called “fossil fuel options.”

“If we don’t commit to fully transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels, we will doom future generations,” wrote Sanders, who is also a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. “Fighting climate change must be our priority, whether fossil fuel billionaires like it or not.”

As Common Dreams reported in April, Sanders won praise from environmental groups after he unveiled a sweeping climate agenda calling for a Green New Deal, an end to oil exports, a complete ban on fracking, and a moratorium on all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

“There is no such thing as a middle ground on climate change.” – Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Charlie Jiang

Environmentalists were not pleased with reports of Biden’s middle-of-the-road approach to confronting the climate crisis, which has pushed a million species to the brink of extinction and threatens the future of human civilization.



Ocasio-Cortez assails Biden’s ‘middle ground’ climate change plan, says it’s ‘dealbreaker’


Degrowth vs. the Green New Deal

Proposals for Green Deals vary in how much they discuss the growth of the economy. Often missing in these discussions is the realization that growth can be life-affirming or result in the destruction of life. It’s a crucial distinction.Image result for new green deal degrowth

The Green New Deal has gone mainstream. The idea is to combine a massive federal job creation program with bold action to rapidly shift away from fossil fuels and protect Indigenous rights. Long a buzzword in the U.S. Green Party, a Green New Deal resolution was introduced in February by insurgent Democrats like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who’ve solidified its scope and demands. Now, Canadian leftist organizations like Courage are presenting their own proposals for a “Green New Deal of the North.” And in March, federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh began voicing support for the Green New Deal idea.

But some are wary of proposals like the Green New Deal – they say that it only “greens” the capitalist imperative of perpetual economic growth, which is the true cause of environmental destruction. [This ignores the reality that growth can be either life affirming OR destructive to the planet.]

Degrowth is mostly an academic movement, focused on challenging mainstream economics. There have been some degrowth policy proposals, but there is not always agreement in the movement about those policies. The Green New Deal, in contrast, is mostly a policy platform. Those who back it and worked on it may be academics and activists, but the focus is on putting together a visionary set of policies.

Here are unique degrowth policies:

  • Degrowth would reduce the working week and support companies to facilitate job sharing between employees.
  • Ecological tax reform, taxing expenditure and polluting activity instead of income. High taxes on income from capital and inheritance.
  • Rehabilitate existing housing stock, with high taxes on empty homes and speculation.
  • Reduce advertising, with strict criteria for advertising in public spaces, like in Grenoble, France.
  • Basic and maximum income.


The Green New Deal’s supporters hope to harness power of narrative with Federal Writers’ Project

The stories we tell us are important.  Stories are a way for Ocasio-Cortez and the plan’s supporters to start to take control of the Green New Deal’s

The ambitious proposal echoes the legendary 1930s-era New Deal project that employed such greats as Ralph Ellison, Saul Bellow, and Zora Neale Hurston.

[Photos: Hannah Olinger/Unsplash; Daniel Chen/Unsplash; Francisco Gomes/Unsplash]

Any collective plan to avert planetary disaster will first need to harness the full powers of storytelling and mythology if it’s going to stand half a chance. That’s the main lesson of the wildly popular recent video, “A Message From the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,” a seven-minute film published by The Intercept (and based on an article by Kate Aronoff). Set a couple of decades in the future, it stands as a “flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion,” as the accompanying article by Naomi Klein puts it. Narrated by Ocasio-Cortez and illustrated by Molly Crabapple, the film offers a peek at a future in which the Green New Deal has come to pass and Americans are benefiting from its life-affirming roster of policies, from Medicare and jobs to regenerative practices and a climate policy that has helped to stop the planet from burning down.

The film’s creators offer it as the first art project of the Green New Deal, a powerful attempt to bring the plan’s still-vague, shimmering vision on the horizon into focus through an imaginative, futuristic story. It’s also a way for Ocasio-Cortez and the plan’s supporters to start to take control of the Green New Deal’s narrative and to pull us toward its magnetic, aspirational future, after what the congresswoman described as “intensely frustrating” controversies surrounding the legislation’s rollout. “It was done in a way that it was easy to hijack the narrative around it,” she said in an interview with a Yahoo News podcast that aired three days before her “Message From the Future” was released.

It’s this battle of stories, the fight to shape the narrative around the ongoing planetary collapse and our response to it, that will be the defining struggle of the war for a livable planet. It’s humanity’s singular storytelling ability that, unlike any other animal, has allowed us to behave like a super-organism, shaping and guiding our lives over the millennia, binding us through the creation of shared, vitalizing tales and mythologies. Storytelling is our superpower, as everyone from evolutionary biologists to Hollywood and advertising execs can tell us, and as a society we can only change as fast as our collective stories do. This is a topic well-explored in recent books like The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human by Jonathan Gottschall, and in Silicon Valley-favorite Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Everyone from Obama to Mark Zuckerberg to Bill Gates has recommended Sapiens, which deals at length with how stories invent the basic “facts” that shape human societies, from nations to money itself (“money is probably the most successful story ever told,” as Harari has put it). “Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or tables, and the simpler the story, the better,” as Harari wrote for the New Yorker in 2016. It is stories that serve as the scaffolding of our material world and “myths give Sapiens the unprecedented ability to cooperate flexibly in large numbers,” writes Harari.

Any Green New Deal effort that attempts to change the hearts, minds, and behaviors of hundreds of millions of people will likewise need to harness the full power of this storytelling capacity. As Ocasio-Cortez puts it in the video, “we found our shared purpose,” a shared purpose that will have to be collectively forged through storytelling. It will need to make use of every narrative device at our disposal to keep the story of a living future alive and possible. It’s now clear that it’s going to take far more than numbers and logical exhortations and measurements of per capita and parts per million of CO2 to tell this story in a way that moves us enough to act in time. As is well known by now, the technology to utterly transform and start to heal our physical landscape is already at hand—what’s needed now is the storytelling technology to transform mass consciousness and push it past the tipping point to the point that we’re still able to correct the course of our current apocalyptic trajectory. MORE


Green New Deal – 20 April 2019

It’s a truism in capitalism that economic growth is synonymous with prosperity, and prosperity is synonymous with happiness. The data doesn’t bear that out.

A roundup of news, views and ideas from the mainstream press and the blogosphere.Click on the headline link to see the full article

Bikes in CopenhagenThe World’s Happiest People already Have a Green New Deal, and they Love it


If you buy scientists’ claims that an economy-wide mobilization is the only thing that can stave off full-blown catastrophe, there are some obvious reasons to believe that a Green New Deal — the only call for that on the table — will make us happy, at least in the long run. Averting civilizational collapse, that is, is a happier outcome than the alternative. Provisions like a federal job guarantee, improved public transportation, and reining in pollution could improve millions of lives in the shorter term. A growing body of research, though, points to some more unexpected reasons why a Green New Deal could make us more cheerful. MORE

While the Green New Deal has generated ample buzz, not everyone knows that a Black think tank in Chicago called New Consensus, led by organizer and Morehouse alumnus, Demond Drummer, developed details of the proposal.

She, The People: Meet Rhiana Gunn-Wright, An Architect Behind The Green New Deal

Rhiana Gunn-Wright was always curious about policy, even before she fully understood the term.

“Growing up I’d wonder about structures—in my neighborhood and schools,” the 29-year-old South Side Chicago native told ESSENCE. “What are the rules, who made the rules? You can’t just look at the surface.”

Raised by her mother, grandmother, extended family, and a caring “village,” the Yale grad and Rhodes Scholar now seeks to answer the questions she had in childhood as a national policy expert….

Introduced in Congress by freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), the [New Green Deal] resolution outlines a 10-year mobilization with five key pillars. They include achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions; creating millions of good, high-wage jobs; investing in U.S. infrastructure and industry; securing clean air and water, climate and community resilience, healthy food, access to nature, and a sustainable environment for all; and promoting justice and equity in vulnerable communities. MORE

Degrowth: A theory of radical abundance
As the climate crisis worsens and the carbon budgets set out by the Paris Agreement shrink,climate scientists and ecologists have increasingly come to highlight economic growth as amatter of concern. Growth drives energy demand up and makes it significantly more difficult and likely infeasible for nations to transition to clean energy quickly enough to prevent potentially catastrophic levels of global warming. In recent years, IPCC scientists have argued that the only feasible way to meet the Paris Agreement targets is to actively scale down the material throughput of the global economy. Reducing material throughput reduces energy demand, which makes it easier to accomplish the transition to clean energy.
Ecological economists acknowledge that this approach, known as degrowth, is likely to entail reducing aggregate economic activity as presently measured by GDP. While such a turn might seem inimical to human development, and indeed threaten to trigger a range of negative social consequences, proponents of degrowth argue that a planned reduction of throughput can be accomplished in high-income nations while at the same time maintaining and even improving people’s standards of living. Policy proposals focus on redistributing existing income, shortening the working week, and introducing a job guarantee and a living wage, while expanding access to public goods. MORE

U.S. Senate rejects Green New Deal, but Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is ‘encouraged’
WATCH: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez ‘encouraged’ despite Senate rejecting ‘Green New Deal’

U.S. Representative Alexandria OcasioCortez said on Friday she was “very encouraged” by the Senate vote this week on the “Green New Deal,” the sweeping climate policy resolution she introduced last month, even though the Senate defeated it.

The non-binding resolution, which proposes to eliminate U.S. greenhouse gas emissions within a decade, lost 57-0 in the Senate, with 43 Democrats voting “present.”

“You had the Republicans voting ‘no’ and you had virtually the entire Democratic caucus voting ‘present,’ even those in tough states,” OcasioCortez said on Friday. “That is an extraordinary amount of unity within the Senate to actually vote in that cohesive of a bloc, so I’m very encouraged.”

OcasioCortez shrugged off Republicans’ insults on Friday at a town hall hosted by MSNBC in her district in The Bronx.

“I didn’t expect them to make total fools of themselves,” she said of her critics. MORE


Yes, We Need a Green New Deal. Just Not the One Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is Offering.

There is a better way to reduce harmful emissions.

High carbon emissions produced by facilities like the Cheswick coal-fired power plant in Springdale, Penn., could be taxed. Credit: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

Yes, of course, we need a Green New Deal to address the world’s most urgent crisis, global warming.

Just, please, not the one that a flotilla of liberal politicians, including seven of the top Democratic presidential hopefuls currently in the Senate, are signingup for in droves, like children following the pied piper in the old legend.

Our modern-day pied piper, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, is trying to lure us into a set of policies that might help save the planet but at the cost of severely damaging the global economy.

…Fortunately, there is a better way to address the climate problem at far lower cost to the economy: a tax on greenhouse gas emissions. That can be imposed in any number of ways. The 18.4 cent federal gasoline tax, for example, hasn’t been increased since 1993 even as most other developed countries impose far higher levies.

A particularly thoughtful proposal has come from the Climate Leadership Council, a bipartisan organization that counts more than 3,300 economists among its signatories. Elegant in its simplicity, the key provision would be the imposition of an escalating tax on carbon. At an initial rate of $43 per ton, the levy would be roughly equivalent to 38.2 cents per gallon of gasoline. MORE