Supposedly, the “Green New Deal” is “green” because it would help the environment. But a close reading of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s proposed resolution reveals a deal that looks more red than green.
The freshman congresswoman from New York released more specifics of her sweeping idea this week. In simpler times, we called extreme environmentalists “watermelons,” because they were green (environmentalists) on the outside, but red (socialist or communist) on the inside. Ocasio-Cortez, her Green New Deal, and all her fellow travelers, are watermelons through and through.
Almost everything about Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is wrong. The premises, the priorities, and the “solutions.” It’s easy, and necessary, to criticize the priorities and the solutions proposed by this very red, outwardly green plan. But to have a completely honest debate, you also have to challenge the premises.
In the preamble, the resolution claims that sea levels are rising, wildfires are increasing, and extreme weather “threatens human life, healthy communities and critical infrastructure.” It claims humans are to blame. These are flawed premises.
Flawed Scientific Premises
The most threatening of these claims is sea level rise, but even mainstream publications that have completely embraced climate change hysteria are backing off of the most catastrophic forecasts. One of the most credible climate “lukewarmists” (a somewhat derisive term that alarmists attribute begrudgingly to skeptics they haven’t yet managed to silence or discredit) is Dr. Judith Curry, who is frequently called upon for congressional testimony. She recently completed an 18-month study on sea level rise. In the summary, she made the following points:
- Sea level was apparently higher than present at the time of the Holocene Climate Optimum (around 5,000 years ago), at least in some regions.
- Tide gauges show that sea levels began to rise during the 19th century, after several centuries associated with cooling and sea level decline. Tide gauges also show that rates of global mean sea level rise between 1920 and 1950 were comparable to recent rates.
- Recent research has concluded that there is no consistent or compelling evidence that recent rates of sea level rise are abnormal in the context of the historical records back to the 19th century that are available across Europe.
Curry’s findings, consistent with those of other scientists such as the brilliant Richard Lindzen of MIT, are that over the past 150 years global sea level has risen at a “slow creep,” and since 1900, the sea has risen about 7-8 inches. The likely increase between now and 2100, according to Curry, is between 8 inches and 24 inches. While a rise on the higher end of this distribution would increase the destructive impact of storm surges in coastal areas, it is far from the catastrophe being touted by the Watermelon people.
And what of these “extreme storms”? Here again, we have data that contradicts the doomsday predictions.
Roger Pielke, Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado and author of The Climate Fix, has done extensive research on extreme weather. His unequivocal conclusion is that the cost of weather-related disasters over the past 30 years have decreased as a percentage of GDP. Using IPCC data, he observes that tropical cyclones have not increased in frequency, intensity, or landfall since the 1970s. Quoting the IPCC, Pielke says “there is no trend in the magnitude or frequency of floods on a global scale,” and “there is low confidence in observed trends in small spatial scale phenomena such as tornadoes and hail,” and also “there is low confidence in detection and attribution of changes in drought over global land areas since the mid-20th century.”
Why doesn’t any of this make it into the mainstream press?
Flawed Geopolitical Premises
Ocasio-Cortez’s resolution preamble goes on to predict “mass migration from the regions most affected by climate change.” Here again, we have a flawed premise. “Climate change” is neither the reason migrants want to migrate, nor the reason that Watermelon people want them to migrate to America. Expect those regions to be in nations where poverty has always been the norm, only ameliorated enough in recent decades to ensure absurdly high birth rates. Normal droughts and storms don’t cause mass migrations out of successful nations. Rather it is endless internal warfare and recurrent famine that causes teeming populations to flee failed states with corrupt, incompetent governments.
Around the world, desperate people, leaders and ordinary citizens alike, will jump at the chance to blame someone else for “climate” events causing their misery, as they demand reparations including the right to immigrate en masse to America and Europe. And because once they are here, they will vote for greater government benefits, the Watermelon people want them to come. The more the better. The sooner the better.
Flawed Economic Premises
The economic premises underlying the Green New Deal are, if anything, even more flawed. Another part of the preamble states climate change will wreak “more than [$500 billion] in lost annual economic output in the United States by the year 2100.” The United States in 2018 had a GDP of $20.4 trillion. But by 2100, even at the modest rate of 3 percent annual GDP growth, the United States would have a GDP of $230 trillion. So half-a-trillion “by 2100” represents a whopping 0.2 percent worth of diminished “economic output,” eight decades from now. Is that the best they can do? Who comes up with these terrifying numbers?
The preamble also predicts “a risk of damage to [$1 trillion] of public infrastructure and coastal real estate in the United States,” though it doesn’t say by when. But just the public infrastructure in the United States is estimated to be worth at least $37 trillion. What about real estate? All U.S. homes are estimated to be worth a cumulative $31.8 trillion. And that doesn’t include commercial real estate.
The financial numbers sound scary. Obviously, $1 trillion is a lot of money. But put in perspective, their actual economic scope is not scary at all. Infrastructure and homes need to be replaced every 50 to 100 years anyway. Trillions are already being spent each year to build and maintain structures of all kinds in the United States. So the premises Ocasio-Cortez lays out are unconvincing. We adapt. We always have.
But adaptation isn’t good enough if you’re a Watermelon. A brief gallop through the “Resolved” or “solutions” sections of the Green New Deal provides us a glimpse into what is good enough for the Watermelon people. Please note these are just highlights. There’s so much more.
Highlights of the “Green New Deal Mobilization”
Here are some goals Ocasio-Cortez lays out for her Green New Deal:
- Ensuring that any infrastructure bill considered by Congress addresses climate change.
- Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.
- Upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification.
- Zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing.
- A Green New Deal must be developed through transparent and inclusive consultation, collaboration, and partnership with frontline and vulnerable communities, labor unions, worker cooperatives, civil society groups, academia, and businesses.
- Providing resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States, with a focus on frontline and vulnerable communities.
- Ensuring the use of democratic and participatory processes that are inclusive of and led by frontline and vulnerable communities and workers.
- Ensuring that the Green New Deal mobilization creates high-quality union jobs that pay prevailing wages.
- Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.
- Obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous people for all decisions that affect indigenous people and their traditional territories, honoring all treaties and agreements with indigenous people, and protecting and enforcing the sovereignty and land rights of indigenous people.
- Providing all people of the United States with (i) high-quality health care; (ii) affordable, safe, and adequate housing; (iii) economic security; and (iv) access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.
And it should all be accomplished “through a 10-year national mobilization.”
Reading these highlights, much less the entire congressional resolution, indicates the Watermelon is indeed strong in these people. Notwithstanding the staggeringly unrealistic goals, note the code words that saturate the document: “inclusive consultation,” “vulnerable communities,” “worker cooperatives,” “participatory processes,” “prevailing wages,” “high quality union jobs,” “consent of indigenous people,” “traditional territories.”
Like all Watermelon-inspired rhetoric, all of these words are calculated to sound morally unassailable. But behind the high minded compassion, the message is clear: the Green New Deal is designed to redistribute wealth and power, correct “systemic racial, regional, social, environmental, and economic injustices,” and transfer wealth to people who will vote for democratic socialism.
Imagine a nation where “worker cooperatives” manage the redistribution of wealth in order to provide universal health care, affordable housing, and a guaranteed job complete with family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security. All the while, making certain that whatever is done is first cleared with the “indigenous people” and evaluated for its impact on climate change. And, of course, doing all this in one decade, while simultaneously shutting down the entire fossil fuel industry. What could possibly go wrong?
The Insanity of Watermelon Politics
Finding value in Ocasio-Cortez’s Watermelon vision for America is tough, but there are some elements of her Green New Deal that merit discussion—particularly the frequent references to infrastructure investments. But if the federal government is going to be investing big money again in national infrastructure, it had better be on projects that make sense for sound economic reasons.
Obviously, some infrastructure investment should be in climate resiliency, such as upgraded sea walls to protect major cities on the east coast. Other forms of adaptation may simply involve no longer subsidizing flood insurance in resort communities built on sandbars that probably already should have washed away. But inviting social justice warriors and climate alarmists to join forces to define what the federal government is going to build, and how they’re going to build it, is the worst possible way to adapt to what may come.
It isn’t enough to question the economic absurdity of the Green New Deal. A rational response would be to assert that it doesn’t matter how much it costs. For this reason it is necessary as well to reinvigorate the scientific debate over just how serious climate change is likely to be, what the causes are for climate change, and what the cost/benefits are of various strategies.
One thing is certain: The path of the Watermelon people is a road to poverty and tyranny. There are far better ways to achieve a more universal prosperity, while helping vulnerable communities and vulnerable ecosystems, all over the world.
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