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John Oliver’s piece, in addition to the other two opinion pieces, all lead back to the three I’s we have discussed this semester. Each piece touched upon the “controversies” surrounding the Green New Deal. Evidently, influential news anchors and specific policy makers are stuck in their own ideologies. They believe climate change is not all that problematic and think that some—if not all—changes are unnecessary. John Oliver’s rhetoric stresses how absurd it is for these people to be making these assumptions. The ending of the piece—or Billy Nye’s somewhat explicit demonstration of what will happen if no changes are made—might be exaggerated, but I think points to a very key idea: people need to “wake up” and take the science to heart.

Something in the Federalist piece that I found to be absurd was the comment that the Green New Deal would present “unfathomable societal costs.” My question to that is, what about the costs to society if no change is made? Is the author even aware of those? The proposals in the Green New Deal ensure that its goal to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions would be “a fair and just transition for all communities and workers.” Not to mention, it would bring millions of new jobs. The actions proposed by the Green New Deal are not all that extreme. In fact, they’re justified in comparison to the costs to society if no change is made.


The Green New Deal is clearly very positive, progressive, and important. I think John Oliver discussion of it was very accessible and his humor and satire were perfect for driving certain points home. One point that John touched on that is very important was that the discussions around the Green New Deal are so far from its actual purpose and goals. The fact that right-leaning media outlets have actually tried to turn discussion of the Green New Deal into a discussion about cows farting and airplane travel is down right evil. Yes these are legitimate sources of greenhouse emissions. But these talking points are being used maliciously in order to delegitimize proponents of the deal. The Green New Deal is a bill that sets aggressive targets that, if reached, would absolutely improve and slow climate change. The Green New Deal is also too often written off because "it's not realistic". But that is completely not true. What people who call it unrealistic actually mean is that they don't think its considered important enough to justify changing how everything is done. We have the technology to harness renewable energy and put use it, so we obviously COULD be 100% renewable in the United States. It would obviously cost a lot of time and labor, and in turn money. But saying we are not capable of it is ignorant.

I thought the Stanford article raised a lot of good points on the problems with the Green New Deal. It's important to point out that these are not problems with the bill itself, but more problems that are there because of the country's current political and social climate. I thought and interesting point made was that coupling climate change and poverty in the GND actually hurt its chances. As we've discussed in our class, the GND is right to couple these things because poor ares have to deal with the negative externalities at a disproportionate rate. But its honestly sad that as a 21 year old I have to read an article from Stanford that says coupling climate change and poverty hurt the bills chances because social change is such a polarizing topic. I really hope there aren't actually people out there who think "I want cleaner energy as less emissions but not if it means social change!" I'm sure there are though....

Max Gebauer

It's clear from the debate on the Green New Deal and other climate-related policy that one of the key points of contention is whether a policy based response to climate change should attempt to address social justice problems such as wealth inequality, marginalization of indigenous groups, and access to health care as well. Some, on both sides of the debate, argue that if we were to pursue climate legislation, we should separate the two for pragmatic considerations (combining both might guarantee that all of it fails), a view that "separate" issues should be handled separately, and perhaps the most persuasive, the argument that the timeframe of climate change necessities such immediate, effective action with massive cuts in this very decade to GHG emissions that trying to deal with the multitude of social justice problems at the same time will delay the time frame of the response which will yield exponentially higher costs due to specific nature of the problem. Although this last one is strong, and might even have at its core a serious tension between the two goals, I argue there is some degree of inseparability between the two and that effective response to climate change by definition will bring about better outcomes for people at the heart of these social justice considerations. I think this point is important as it allows one to craft and represent a climate change related piece of policy without adding unpopular sections directly targeting poverty that make passage of the overall legislation nigh on impossible. Improving air quality will disporportionately help marginalized groups, likewise, the readings from Monday show how a facially neutral policy can help the least-advantaged groups at a higher degree. How a piece of policy is presented to the world is incredibly important, a poor choice of words or too much rhetoric concerning a controversial point could be a political death sentence for a bill. Ignorance and Ideology are particularly strong here, and one must be careful in navigating this area as something as innocuous as a joke about farting cows can become fodder for commentators that parody the very bill and exploit this wording to undermine popular support for said bill. If anything, using somewhat politically neutral language (regarding social justice problems) to communicate a policy that actually works at those very problems might be a pragmatic solution to achieve both goals while still navigating the three Is.

Didi Pace

Just like Adam Smith’s invisible hand or Coase’s social cost arguments, AOC’s words are similarly distorted. Readers franticly label AOC as the nut-job who is trying to take away our hamburgers. People cling to these extreme examples derived from twisting the Green New Deal, and disregard the true meanings and implications of the policy.

One of the perceived weaknesses of the Green New Deal is its lack of any concrete means or established plan in which to achieve its goals. However, Cortez was probably purposefully vague. While a single streamline solution to climate change would obviously be ideal, no such thing exists. Achieving the goals outlined in the Green New Deal will require a holistic and multifaceted approach (and some of the technologies involved in this approach may not have even been developed yet!)

Margot McConnell

In the John Oliver video, I thought the most salient point was that when the Green New Deal was implemented, you can see how many different things the media can make out of something without having read the 14 page document. The thing that is so dangerous about media sources sharing facts that are so out of left field is that people actually believe every single word that people are saying on these news stations. Therefore, all the dedicated viewers of Fox News are reading that the Green New Deal means no airplanes and no hamburgers, and they are then taking that information and telling their friends and family. It almost feels like rumors or gossip in a way.
The thing that I continue to find so frustrating about climate change and things like the Green New Deal is that people who are so against reducing carbon and other greenhouse gases clearly do not understand the public health crisis that so many people face from pollution alone. If anything, you can argue that the Green New Deal is trying to improve the public health. Period. I don’t think anyone would argue with trying to improve the health and wellbeing on people in the United States. The issue is that instead the Green New Deal is framed dramatically in a way in which the government is taking away everything from people just to reduce pollution and then further to make people pay more money in taxes to the government.
After Bernie dropped out of the race the other day, I saw a clip from Fox News that was discussing if Biden had a chance against Trump. Trump runs his campaign for re-election by blasting the Green New Deal. When they were describing Biden and what he supports, they immediately discussed the Green New Deal and how Biden was going to lose supporters because of it. I honestly found it funny that they even made that comment. They were framing the Green New Deal as the worst thing that could happen for this country (probably worse than COVID-19 honestly).
This article I found in the Rolling Stone does a great job of showing how there are big initial costs to decarbonizing and switching to more sustainable energy, but the pay offs in the long run are going to be so beneficial for the economy and the environment. It also does a good job of showing how any of the arguments made against the Green New Deal really are just excuses. Additionally, this article discusses a lot of Jacobson’s work at Stanford, which was a big focus of mine in my sustainable development presentation on investing in renewable energy sources. Also, I found an article earlier this semester discussing some of the strengths and weaknesses of the Green New Deal according to energy experts at Stanford including Jacobson. It is definitely interesting and easier to get on board when you hear a scientist at Stanford discussing why the GND can work and is reasonable.

KT Hensler

I thought the Stanford assessment of the Green New Deal was very helpful in understanding the steps to follow a plan so extreme. I found it most interesting to look at the research compilation that Mark Jacobson had provided.
This article particularly stood out to me as it had specifics regarding cities in the United States. Jacobson estimated a Business-as-Usual (BAU) for 53 towns and cities, before the whole sector would be electrified. Then, by using an example set of clean, renewable technology he applies them to the demand for energy… I’m slightly rusty on the understanding of how he did this, but the results are awesome. Wind, water, and solar (WWS) have been shown to keep the demand for energy 100% stable or extremely close. Ultimately, Jacobson estimates resulting energy costs, air pollution costs, climate, and job creation/loss for the WWS versus BAU systems. I picked out Philadelphia, DC, and New York City to see how their end-use load decreased.
Phil: -51.8%
DC: -67.0%
NYC: -47.2%
Two cities in Louisiana (New Orleans and Abita Springs) had a percentage decrease of over 70%.
Jacobson really covered just about everything any one person debating against climate policy and its feasibility needs to know. He even calculated the amount of available roof space for solar panels in each of the 53 cities (NYC has about 115 square km of rooftop suitable for PV panels). All of the hate articles and journalists that are anti-GND are simply stubborn and do not want to believe what the science is telling them. I highly recommend they give any of Mark Jacobson’s research articles a look. (Jacobson et al. 2018)

Natalie Burden

It was crazy to read through the Green New Deal and see how vague it was––intentionally––in describing the problems that needed fixing, and following that reading with the Federalist article. The Federalist article and a number of news sources like those shown in the John Oliver show made such extreme exaggerations of what the Green New Deal was targeting. By twisting the words of the Green New Deal, these sources made the goals sound completely unrealistic and ridiculous and severely belittled the GDN.
It’s so frustrating to see how political polarization has made parties so quick to belittle and destroy the goals of the other party without considering the problems that are being addressed.
I found an article from the Pew Research Center that summarizes succinctly how Democrats and Republicans view climate change. Charts 3, 4, and 5 show how divided the parties are on the topic of climate change. Chart 5 suggests that a person’s political party has more impact than their level of understanding about science on their climate change views:

It’s bad enough that the issue of climate change has become so contested by politics despite a pretty universal agreement within the scientific community. It really doesn’t help to have right-leaning news sources twisting the message of the GDN and other climate initiatives so blatantly and using scare tactics like those in the Federalist article such as government agents coming to take out your water heater. This increases and prolongs the polarization through generations. Although members of the same generations might have more similar opinions on issues such as climate change (see Chart 4), polarization through the media will make it harder for Republicans and Democrats to agree on national and global issues, and will therefore make it more difficult to put initiatives into action on either side.

Sydney Goldstein

What I found most interesting was reading all the articles/watching the John Oliver video all together. Many people act as if the GND is a big scary document that mandates what we do, and controls our lives to an absurd extent. The last article, “The 10 Most Insane Requirements Of The Green New Deal,” ascertains that the GND will ban “affordable” energy such as coal. This is not entirely true, as the document itself cites that there will be an effort to transition off of them ASAP, but there is no mention of an outright ban. Furthermore, coal is only considered affordable because it is so heavily subsidized by the government, if clean energy was subsidized at the rate coal it would be considered affordable as well. Furthermore, in considering cost, the author of this article is only making a case for direct monetary cost rather than including the cost of negative externalities such as environmental damages and public health. If these factors are taken into account clean energy is much more desirable. This author then dives into assertions that are even more ludacris such as eliminating air travel and 99% of cars. Once again, the document makes no mention of a direct ban and says it will, “[overhaul] transportation systems in the United States to remove pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in—zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; clean, affordable, and accessible public transit; and high-speed rail…”. This means there will still be cars and airplanes, they will just be greener models--my question to the author of this article is why is he/she so concerning about keeping a carbon emitting car, the purpose of transportation is to get you from one place to another, and if it does that, then it’s serving its purpose. In fact, the document is quite reasonable in acknowledging that these green changes will be made to the point where it is technologically feasible, therefore, making sure transportation will continue to exist and serve its function. It is quite amazing how much the points in the GND have been distorted to the point where it’s absurd. The document is not long or difficult to read, as John Oliver pointed out, it’s 14 pages. Thus, I don’t understand why more people don’t just read it themselves, rather than listen to extremely distorted versions of it. As the Stanford article pointed out, one of the biggest problems that the GND faces is political and social aversion. Jacobson wrote, “The fossil fuel industry has a lot at stake, and they sow doubt and oppose all legislation that will phase them out”. If I had to bet where most of the distortion of the ideas proposed in the GND are coming from is likely leaders in the fossil fuel industry who have everything to lose, so they make AOC and the GND look absurd.

I attempted to do some research on the total monetary cost of the life cycle of coal for reference, but was having trouble finding something completely comprehensive. I did find this website that has a pretty detailed outbreak of cost per short ton as well as transportation costs--which are surprisingly high. It also discusses the price of coal by region and discusses other factors such as how coking coal makes it more expensive.

Nikki Doherty

The Green New Deal certainly has stigma around it; the contention that surrounds the deal seems more talked about than the details of the GND itself! As Oliver’s segment suggests, we must stop promoting “stereotypes” surrounding the GND and start having more intellectual (economic and scientific) conversations about it and about climate change. Oliver suggests that we are killing bills based on stereotypes and stigmas rather than what is contained in the bill. We make surface-level opinions without digging through the bill or the science. The goal is net-zero emissions. It is not stringent requirements that will “gut” America. When reading it, I was surprised that the GND is as non-binding as it is… especially, because media and daily conversations suggest it to be extremely limiting (i.e. Not the hamburgers!). I do see how this lack of detail might be criticized, however, I think that it should be viewed as flexibility which seems necessary given current contention.

I think that Benson is absolutely correct when suggesting that we should reach out to other countries to share and gain knowledge about best practices (Stanford piece). Best practices to me, includes decarbonisation strategies like he suggests, but also collaboration in research as this is a global crisis. How can we get to net-zero emissions? Most importantly, it includes cultural practices to garner public buy-in. How can we get the public to demand net-zero emissions? How do we get people to change their lifestyles?

Also in the Stanford piece, Jackson’s point begets an interesting question—are we setting expectations and pressures too high for the Green New Deal to change our current nation’s poverty (Stanford)? Although I can imagine push back from including this, I do believe we have a duty to prioritize poorer people since they bear the largest burden of climate change. If this policy is aimed at minimizing the consequences of climate change, we cannot turn on backs on the people it hurts most. We can change the rhetoric to be more “bipartisan” by promoting the jobs and disposable income the GND can and will create.

Steven Black

Similar to several of the above posts, I think the most important takeaway from the Green New Deal is how some people can twist the public's perception of the legislation to result in ideas that are so far from the original point of the bill. Politicians and media personalities say outrageous claims such as "They're trying to steal your hamburgers" or associating the Green New Deal with Joseph Stalin to manipulate the masses into opposes a bill that would benefit them. I agree with Rebecca's point that this all leads back to the three I's that we have discussed throughout the semester. Sadly, special interest groups are preying on people's ignorance over the legislation in order to turn public opinion against it and stop any meaningful solutions to climate change from occurring.
I had not read much about the Green New Deal prior to this and was surprised to learn that not only was the bill quite short, but it also did not include any binding policies or regulations. While the bill did not pass through Congress, I believe that it was still a success. The purpose of the bill was to stimulate conversation about climate change and how to solve it, which has definitely been achieved without the bill passing. John Oliver made a good point about how often do we talk about a bill six weeks after it has been shot down in Congress (or even before). I think that this is proof that the bill has been successful in pushing the conversation forward, despite some people's best attempts to discredit it. The necessary next step is to turn the positive conversation into actual concrete actions that can be implemented to mitigate the effects of climate change.
The segment about Canadian's outrage with taxes reminded me about Americans' strong opposition to the estate tax (death tax). Even though the estate tax would inherently benefit 99% of Americans, most people have a strong opposition to someone being taxed twice on their earnings. Studies have shown that even after you explain to people that the estate tax applies to estates worth over $11M, the vast majority of Americans are still opposed to it. This just shows that Americans have strong negative reactions to new taxes (we even revolted over British taxes). For a carbon tax solution to be put in place, I believe we would have to take an approach similar to Canada and can it a "price on pollution" or use a cap and trade approach.

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