Taking away ‘airplane rights’, high-speed light rail powered by ‘unicorn tears’ and stripping citizens of our inalienable right to eat a cheeseburger. These are just some of the charges coming from President Trump and other Republican politicos that share his disdain for the Green New Deal being proposed by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Senator Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts.
This resolution attempts to tackle large scale environmental issues, such as an outdated, inefficient, fossil fuel based energy grid, that has been proven over the last few decades to be one of the major contributors to green house gas emissions. Although, the issue we all want to turn a blind-eye to is the fact that our food system, and in particular our reliance on large scale, mono-crop, mono-livestock, pesticide, herbicide reliant agriculture is the real champion of greenhouse emissions. That’s right, cows are one of the biggest suppliers of methane, but that’s just one part of the issue with the current agriculture system.
If we take a step back in history, to colonial America, we see that the European farming methods were one tradition that did not make the trip across the Atlantic. Across Europe in the 19th century agriculture was still represented by small, family run farms, with a strong bartering system in place to accommodate unmet needs by the farm.
As early European immigrants landed on the eastern coast of the United States it must have been mind-numbing to lay their eyes on the unending swaths of pines, oaks and maples that lay ahead of them. For the most part we tend to forget, or we were never actually aware, of just how much cross cutting of old growth forests took place in the colonies of early America to create ‘room’ for these ‘new farms’. This clearing of forests made it possible for an agricultural shift to take place where the land constraints that existed in Europe were traded for seemingly endless resources of timber, land and wildlife that became the earliest forms of American wealth.
Maybe it’s time to return to this ideal of wealth.
Post American Revolution we begin to see the industrial engine begin to churn, and farming has never been the same. Where the plow was once truly horse powered, now farmer-less tractors navigating via GPS can do 1000 times the work of a colonial predecessor. As with anything in America we have transformed farming into a highly efficient, paradoxically productive but somewhat profit depleted vocation. While farmers plowed ahead maximizing efficiency and economies of scale, they…us, failed to take in to account the negative effects that were occurring throughout the environment.
The Green New Deal seems like a champion resolution that seeks to tackle some of the most complex and perilous issues humans currently face. What needs to be addressed is this resolution calls for net-zero emissions by 2050. That 2050 number should seem familiar. In the Paris Deal it was largely agreed upon, with U.S. government leading the charge, that 2050 was the year where each of the countries involved would have made a full transition from their reliance on fossil fuels.
As a collective whole, we need to pull our heads out of our proverbial asses. Most of the flack this deal is receiving is due to the proposed cost to taxpayers and the federal government. While the estimated cost lands somewhere between $32 trillion to $100 trillion depending on which side of the aisle you’re talking to. What’s ironic is that while our President declares a state of emergency seeking north of $5 billion for a wall, we shudder at the idea of spending substantial money in order to create appreciable, large-scale, global change. With that being said, why is that change being put off for 30 years?
If someone needed to lose weight, and they devised a plan where they would quit overeating and start exercising regularly 30 years from now, there’s a chance they might never make it to the glorious day where they fit back into their skinny jeans. Which makes the slogan of the Green New Deal, ‘we can build a better tomorrow today’, that much more ironic.
I realize that the issues of climate change and fossil-fuel reliance will require massive shifts in economies and infrastructure in order to make real change. But just as one of our most famous forefathers, and founder of the American Philosophical Society whose purpose was to share information on developments in agriculture, stated…
“You may delay, but time will not, and lost time is never found again.” - Benjamin Franklin