As the summer goes on, time seems to be moving faster and faster. By this point in the program, I am well into my project discussing the history of, background behind, and political prospects of a Green New Deal (GND).
In a lot of ways, writing a big white paper like the one I’m working on now is very much like school. I learn things in class, consume some information and take a side on an issue to draft into a paper.
But this project, has been unique in how little I knew about the subject matter when I first started working on it. Since arriving in DC, I’ve been eating, sleeping, and breathing American environmental and energy policy. Then even after I have read everything I could, writing a paper like the one I am requires comprehensive knowledge on a variety of subjects, and I find myself having to consume more and more information before each and every section I tackle.
I have come to learn a number of important broad topic things about the GND and the climate, all of which have changed how I’ve viewed the plan. First, I learned that climate change is far bigger of a problem than I ever thought it was. Entire countries, including Zambia, the one I grew up in, could be burned off the face of the planet. Others could be eaten up by the sea, and the remaining ones will have to face the people coming from those regions, the weather bolstered with heat, and the diseases that will inevitably spread northward. Even if warming is limited to 2 degrees, which we currently are not on track to do, the UN estimates that 150,000,000 people will lose their lives, a number so large it’s hard to even comprehend. Second, I’ve learned that any solution to this problem will be exceedingly vast and exceptionally disruptive. Effectively, the world will need a mobilization effort on the scale of a world war against climate change. Maybe it’s because I drank the GND cool-aid, but to me at this point it seems like the only possible option forward.
Events over the summer hearing a wide variety of people speak on the subject has left me very angry at those standing in the way of any action at all. Twice I have attended events where Rick Perry, current secretary of state and active climate denier, has spoken, and I couldn’t help but sit in my chair and seethe over his flippant attitude towards the climate change that will only reach its worst long after he has gone and young people like me are still around.
On a more hopeful note, though, this summer has made me support more moderate policies, if only because a moderate candidate is more likely to win an overwhelming majority in an election. The nature of Mitch Mcconnell and his staunch obstruction to any kind of climate action, makes it so that only a Democratic majority in both the senate and the house will be able to achieve any significant action. I’m hoping for a Buttigeig or Booker Democratic ticket, that senate Democrats can ride to majority, because otherwise I would bet there will be little-to-no climate action for the next four years.