HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » General Discussion (Forum) » The Democratic Party Want...

Wed Dec 5, 2018, 08:51 PM

The Democratic Party Wants to Make Climate Policy Exciting

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/12/ocasio-cortez-green-new-deal-winning-climate-strategy/576514/

The Democratic Party Wants to Make Climate Policy Exciting
After years of infighting, the Democrats may finally have found an environmental consensus in the Green New Deal.
Robinson Meyer
11:01 AM ET

snip//

For the first time in more than a decade, Democrats can approach climate policy with a sense of imagination. They can also approach it with a sense of humility, because their last two strategies didn’t work particularly well. When the party last controlled Congress, in 2009, Democrats tried to pass a national cap-and-trade bill, a type of policy that allows polluters to bid on the right to emit carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. It failed to pass in the Senate. Starting in 2011, President Obama tried to use the EPA’s powers under the Clean Air Act to fight carbon-dioxide emissions. After President Trump was elected, he terminated that effort by executive order.

Since then, Democrats in Congress have proposed no shortage of climate bills. A few of them even picked up Republican support. Some blue states have also tried to pass climate policy of their own, though the most ambitious of those efforts have failed. And as I wrote last year, the party has encountered new problems in its coalition. Some environmental groups have focused on closing coal plants and blocking pipeline projects, frustrating the labor movement, which appreciates the jobs that those projects bring.

From the successes, a pattern has emerged. Economists tend to prefer policies that work across the entire economy at once by integrating the costs of climate change into the price of gas, food, and other consumer goods. But voters—who have more quotidian concerns than optimally elegant economic policy—don’t always feel the same way. They don’t want gas prices to go up. And that means they support policies that remake one sector of the economy at a time, usually by mandating the use of technology. Economists like to disparage these policies as “kludges” or “command and control.” But Americans like them.

snip//

I have come to think of this tension as climate policy’s Boring as Dirt problem: the BAD problem. The BAD problem recognizes that climate change is an interesting challenge. It is scary and massive and apocalyptic, and its attendant disasters (especially hurricanes, wildfires, and floods) make for good TV. But the policies that will address climate change do not pack the same punch. They are technical and technocratic and quite often dull. At the very least, they will never be as immediate as climate change itself. Floods are powerful, but stormwater management is arcane. Wildfires are ravenous, but electrical-grid upgrades are tedious. Climate change is frightening, but dirt is boring. That’s the BAD problem.

snip//

The Green New Deal also looks like an economic stimulus plan, which isn’t nothing. The last two Democratic presidents took power during an economic downturn or its immediate aftermath. Most climate bills look like new taxes—and new taxes are not easy to pass in the middle of a recession. But Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal was not a tax, even if it included taxes; it’s remembered instead as the greatest of all stimulus and jobs bills. If Democrats take the White House during a recession, they will have a far easier time passing a Green New Deal than a carbon tax.

Many Americans first heard of the Green New Deal early last month, after Ocasio-Cortez made a surprise appearance at a demonstration in Nancy Pelosi’s office. Just a few days had passed since the midterm election, and Pelosi had yet to lock down the speakership. Hundreds of activists in yellow T-shirts—all bearing the logo of the Sunrise Movement—piled into Pelosi’s office to demand that Democrats support a Green New Deal.

“For me, as a member, I want to thank you all, for giving us as a party the strength to push,” Ocasio-Cortez told the group. “Should Leader Pelosi become the next speaker of the House, we need to tell her that we’ve got her back in showing and pursuing the most progressive energy agenda that this country has ever seen.”


For her first day on Capitol Hill, and her first public act as a representative-elect, Ocasio-Cortez chose to focus on climate change. The decision is notable all by itself. Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, is also the first member of Congress who was born during the George H. W. Bush administration. And the Bush administration is when the modern era of stagnant climate politics began: It’s when Exxon and other oil companies began publicly advocating climate denialism, when the United States blocked a treaty that would have restricted global carbon emissions, when the Senate ratified the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Almost exactly a month after Ocasio-Cortez turned 1, Congress approved the Global Change Research Act, a law requiring regular federal reports on climate science. It hasn’t passed a major climate bill since. Ocasio-Cortez has spent her entire life watching climate change not get fixed. Now she’s getting her shot at addressing it.

4 replies, 243 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 4 replies Author Time Post
Reply The Democratic Party Wants to Make Climate Policy Exciting (Original post)
babylonsister Wednesday OP
Ron Green Wednesday #1
babylonsister Wednesday #2
Ciaphas Cain Wednesday #3
Garrett78 Thursday #4

Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2018, 09:14 PM

1. This is great. It's only 45 or 50 years late.

We've been trading the future of our home on this planet for our immediate comfort and convenience for decades.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Ron Green (Reply #1)

Wed Dec 5, 2018, 10:01 PM

2. Hey, better late than never?

As stated, boring as dirt. I would feel better if we at least tried.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Wed Dec 5, 2018, 11:42 PM

3. Green new jobs

The reason that I like infrastructure spending so much is because it's hard to outsource the jobs.

Sorry if I sound cynical. In any case it's guaranteed local jobs to upgrade your water pipes, not to mention the fact that children who drink clean water do better in school. It should be pretty easy to sell people on environmental spending if you tell them it will make their kids smarter.

Pollution is proven to reduce iq so it's actually the honest truth. What could be more exciting than kids doing better in school? New jobs too! Now all we need is a band and we have ourselves a party.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to babylonsister (Original post)

Thu Dec 6, 2018, 12:17 AM

4. I think part of the issue is that the climate change problem is so enormous and complex...

...that people can't wrap their heads around it. There's a lot of willful ignorance and denial as a result.

Also, it isn't obvious to most in the US that climate change is directly impacting them, even if it is.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread