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What is The Green New Deal?

February 27, 2019

Climate change: an epidemic that has been hanging over the human race for years. However, it has recently  become a more controversial issue as many politicians have publicly denied the severity of climate change;President of the United States Donald Trump said he “doesn’t believe it,” according to CNN. New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, on the other hand, has fought for the recognition of climate change and re-introduced the Green New Deal.

The Green New Deal is legislation presented by Ocasio-Cortez along with Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey to cut carbon emissions in a way that would both provide a surplus of new jobs and boost the U.S. economy.

“The effects of climate change have gotten more severe over the past decade and this plan proposes to minimize these effects,” Palmetto senior in the Solar Energy class, Esther Cai said. “It’s a 10-year plan to make the country carbon neutral by switching to renewable energy, zero emission cars and minimal waste in manufacturing.”

The legislation establishes that humans are the main cause of climate change and in order to prevent the situation from worsening, the economy must move in the direction of  cleaner energy investments that would lead to reduced carbon emissions and a higher energy efficiency. Ocasio-Cortez also wants to r include health care, high-quality education and an introduction of job opportunities for minorities, the poor and the disabled, according to the Green New Deal Overview released on Feb. 7, 2019.

“I definitely didn’t expect the issue of global warming to return to the political limelight anytime soon. That said, I am so grateful it did,” Palmetto junior Marissa Tellam said. “This proposal has the potential to do so much good, on both a domestic and international level. It won’t reverse the effects of climate change or even fully stop it, but it is an absolutely necessary first step to reducing our country’s contribution to it.”

In today’s tense political climate between conservatives and liberals, the Green New Deal has received a l backlash due to Ocasio-Cortez’s suggested 70 percent tax increase on the wealthier class in order to pay for this legislation.

“Some argue that the plan promotes socialism, because it advocates a universal healthcare and education system, as well as a universal basic income,” Tellam said. “The Green New Deal would create millions of jobs for farmers, engineers and laborers, but also cost an estimated $2 trillion.”

In addition to the tax increase, Ocasio-Cortez happens to be  a left-wing Democrat from New York and the youngest woman to be elected for the House of Representatives, which attracted lots of negative attention from conservatives.

“Climate change itself is a highly politicized topic and such a momentous plan seems unrealistic to many conservatives,” Cai said. “It requires all Americans to drastically change their current lifestyles so naturally, it received a lot of criticism. Also, I’m sure the upper class doesn’t appreciate the plan for higher taxes.”

Even though the backlash persists, many people see the potential in the plan. Young Americans have collaborated and supported Ocasio-Cortez since her election, such as the young activist group, The Sunrise Movement, which works to combat climate change. As climate change worsens throughout the years, Ocasio-Cortez’s legislation encourages people to reduce their carbon footprint and promotes environmental consciousness.

“Based on the backlash it has already received, I’m not sure if it’ll amount to much but I hope it will at least inspire debate, and perhaps the country will adopt a smaller scale plan with compromises between liberals and conservatives,” Cai said.

Palmetto has already recognized the need to reduce its carbon footprint as seen through the installation of water fountains for reusable bottles and clubs’ collection of batteries, among other things. AP Environmental Science teacher Pamela Schlachtman’s Solar Energy class’ projects to promote sustainability by brainstorming more ways Palmetto students and staff can reduce their carbon footprint both at school and at home.

“It makes more of a difference than you think. The responsibility of cleaning up the planet will fall to our generation, so start small now,” Tellam said.

As the legislation moves forward, the fight to enact the Green New Deal continues.

“The plan affects every citizen and resident of the country,” Cai said. “If it can gather up enough support, I think it could be a real step towards a greener future.”

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