The 2020s Must Be the Decade of the Green New Deal
These three essential books explain why a people-first approach to addressing climate change is the only way forward
In 2006, Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth seemed to finally rouse popular culture to the threat of climate change. It was shown to community groups, in schools, and even won an Academy Award for best documentary feature. Yet the film — and the host of “green” culture products it inspired — largely presented fighting climate change as a consumer-driven, individual pursuit. We were encouraged to recycle, replace light bulbs and appliances, make expensive renovations, and switch to renewable power.
Today, as uncontrollable fires ravage Australia and scientists warn we have until the end of the decade to radically transform our way of life, it’s clear that waiting for every consumer to change their purchasing habits won’t cut it. If we’re to have a chance at avoiding the worst-case warming scenarios, we’re going to need bold ideas like those espoused in the Green New Deal (GND) — ideas that would rapidly get us off fossil fuels, create a robust social safety net, and put decision-making power in the hands of communities.
The democratic element is key. We’ve been treated to a decade of aloof billionaires promising that electric sports cars and solar-powered mansions would save us from climate apocalypse as they criss-crossed the world in private jets without having their promises interrogated. But futures imagined by billionaires are designed for billionaires, and we’re in desperate need of futures by and for regular people. We’ve entered the make-or-break decade, our final shot to avoid the worst-case scenarios of a warmer world. It’s more crucial than ever that we engender mass climate action, and it’s imperative that any political project put people first. The Green New Deal can do that.
On November 13, 2018, 150 members of the Sunrise Movement occupied the office of Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi to demand urgent climate action. The demonstration likely wouldn’t have received much attention, but newly elected Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showed up and gave a fiery speech that effectively launched the Green New Deal.