Home | About | Donate

A Green New Deal Town Hall: Paving the Way for a Just Transition

A Green New Deal Town Hall: Paving the Way for a Just Transition

Anny Martinez

How do we make the Green New Deal real? By holding town hall meetings led, centered and organized by the people – discussions so honest that you’re not the same person when you leave. These are the kinds of discussions we need to be having as a community – and some of us have been talking honestly about this for a long time. Need inspiration? Let women of color lead the way.

I hope GND town halls help people realized how the need to 1) redefine themselves as conservers rather than consumers and 2) create service as opposed to chemical and fossil fuel driven product economies.

1 Like

Pelosi Mocks AOC & Progressives On 60 Minutes

Anny Martinez writes: “The Green New Deal is a bold and brave set of ideas…”

So far I have not seen any “bold and brave ideas” from people who have the educational background in physics, math, chemistry, oceanography, geography, computer science and more, to grasp the complexities of humanity’s existential crisis well enough to critically dissect senior policymakers’ too-little, too late climate-related policies and programs. Instead, I see people who seek solace in the myth that biospheric health will quickly rebound after we get our act together with “A Green New Deal.”

Meanwhile, responsibly informed people seek some measure of comfort in the hidden truths of experts who dare to share their truths, such as – First, the complexities of the existential crises we face are not well understood; Second, there is a presumption that solutions exist; Third, if the research findings of atmospheric physicist Tim Garrett are right (and so far his testable hypothesis has not been rejected), humanity is caught in a double-bind ending in the global collapse of the economy and civilization within decades – in Garrett’s words, “Renewables and new clean, efficient technologies will not be our salvation,” and even worse “There is no way out”; Fourth, it’s hard to find leaders who have the requisite scientific and organizational expertise to lead “a global transition” from fossil fuels; Fifth, how do we deal with powerful uncooperative capitalists who refuse to cooperate or capitulate?; and Sixth, no Green New Dealer has ever explained what life on this planet will be like without the huge surplus energy that only oil can provide for a rapidly growing global economy and civilization.

Possibly the most profound and far-reaching assessment of what is happening on Planet Eaarth (McKibben) that I have seen. The shifts in the way human beings live on the planet that will occur over the next fifty years–if we survive that long–are so vast as to defy comprehension, much less prediction.

IF we are to continue to live in any large numbers, our way of life will in that short time have changed drastically from that of the past four centuries of the Industrial Revolution. We probably won’t see a lot of rainbows and unicorns, but we could see many of the dreams and strivings of the past four THOUSAND years beginning to come to fruition.

“On the other hand” (say the practitioners of the dismal science), all our dystopian fantasies could prove to have been absurdly optimistic. While Homo sap probably will not be extinct at that point, the population of the planet will almost certainly be significantly smaller, with further declines to come. Poet Robert Frost’s “Fire and Ice” barely scratch the surface of the possible drivers, from nuclear war to nuclear meltdowns on the fiery side and from untreatable diseases new and old to starvation to simple loss of the will to live and inability to cope with rapid, overwhelming change on the icy side.

Of course, humankind might have a sudden convulsion of sanity and compassion and assure that all women everywhere have control over their own fertility and the knowledge and understanding to use that power wisely. (Of course, for women to achieve that power something would also have to occur to, in, and/or with men. How that could be achieved without great violence is hard to imagine.)

One thing we know with 99 percent certainty is that we will not be burning carbon in any large quantity fifty years from now, if “we” (humankind) are still around. The only way that could happen would be for a small population to be attempting to survive on a carbon economy on an increasingly Venus-like planet. This is relevant because IF we are still around with any prospects of continuing much farther, we will have abolished the carbon economy. The consequences of that alone are just barely imaginable, from what we do in the meantime to reach that goal, to what we do in the meantime to create a new way to live on the planet that provides some of the benefits of industrial culture without “unlimited” energy and without increasing throughput of extracted resources. The mobilization for such a transition would dwarf those for “World War II,” the Manhattan Project, the reconstruction of Japan and Europe after the war, and the Apollo Project put together. Its scale and scope would be on the order of the Industrial Revolution itself condensed into half a century.

How will we feed ourselves? Rice cakes? Insects? Three-D printing of synthetic meat? Soylent green? Will we grow food hydroponically in skyscrapers, or will we return to food produced on the land within a few miles of where it is consumed?

THIS is the challenge that any Green New Deal faces. THIS is the cultural change that every person, every people, every nation is now facing. A vast amount of legislation will be necessary, but that alone will not be sufficient. The greatest obstacles will be the people who wish to avoid the change, and the changes demanded of those who wish to see it through.

I don’t expend much energy on people who have already thrown in the towel, but I will point out a couple of things:

First, there IS no Green New Deal, so talking about what is lacking in it is futile. Before there can be such a program there must be a lot of grass roots organizing to break the stranglehold on policy of the fossil fools, from Pelosi to Trump to the industry itself.

Second, the people at IPS are well aware of this, and understand that like the hasty resolution in the House, what they are doing–and all that CAN be done at this moment–is “aspirational,” to rally the troops while thinking deeply about all that a potentially futile effort to limit climate disruption and mitigate its effects entails. IMNSHO, Ms. Martinez has done as good a job as anyone in her situation, as the future–which is unknown and unknowable–continues to emerge.

Third, in our capitalist/fascist economy/society people who actually know stuff are about as welcome in the centers of power as a you-know-what in the punch bowl. A group of scientists at 314action.org are trying to change that. With little or no experience in PR they are as subtle as a bulldozer, so they may be getting some traction. In the meantime they are wise not to put too much time or effort into the details of projects that may or may not someday become part of a mobilization on the necessary scale.

Fourth and finally, “STEM” is my native language of some 70 years. It’s a lot of fun, and it paid my bills up until I was 50, but the technical problems (and scientific and engineering, and the accompanying math) are the easy part. Even I could take a few days off and come up with a coherent and accurate 50-100 pages of what needs to be done and how, and how to finance it (my adopted language being economics). That is the least of our problems. The drag comes from politics, greed, ignorance, self-deception, and “The heartache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to.”

It is a lot easier to deconstruct and rebuild a major industry such as energy than to deconstruct and rebuild an entire culture. If we hope to continue as a species, that is where we will need to begin.