Sunday, February 17, 2019

Reflections on the Green New Deal

It's good, it's not perfect, and it's not enough.

It's a resolution. I support its passage. You can read it here. The bill as it stands mandates nothing and collects no revenue. Instead, it sets out an ambitious list of goals. The basic proposal is to switch the USA off of fossil energy and onto "renewables" (not completely defined – is nuclear power renewable?) and to hire a lot of people to do the job. There is also something of a laundry list of moderate left goals: indigenous rights, "equal pay for equal work," and so on. It's not a bad list. Some of the goals probably conflict with others, global policy must be addressed, and I hate the callout to family farms. (See Sarah Taber's critique.)

But it should have been passed 25 years ago.

By now we should have run the numbers and be implementing the programs. That we have not run the numbers worries me. A lot. We are near to the breaking point, and we haven't even tried to figure out a plan that will work. Will wind and solar power be enough? How many climate refugees will there be? We don't know any of this. We don't even have estimates.

If it were up to me, I would put some of my old colleagues at the national labs on the job. Time has run out.

We need a real plan, not just ambitious goals.

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