Green New Directions

Joel B. Stronberg
9 min readMay 16, 2019

The Green New Deal Is Only the Beginning of the Search for National Consensus

Given all the green talk — positive and negative — that has gone on since Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-NY) Green New Deal hit the headlines it’s not surprising that others have begun to step forward with proposed alternatives. The climate debate’s current driver is the run for elective office. What will sustain it long past the 2020 elections is the increasing incidence, costs, and consequences of climate-related weather disasters.

Compared to the Democrats making climate change a principal platform of their 2020 election strategy is the protestation of Donald Trump that there’s no problem to solve and the willingness of many Republican conservatives to follow wherever he leads. The heat of the partisan debate will rise faster and burn hotter than Earth’s temperatures between now and when ballots are cast next November.

Climate calamities don’t distinguish between red and blue states. Voters in ever larger numbers are admitting to having been touched by the consequences of global warming and are recognizing the causal connection between human activity and the release of harmful greenhouse gases (GHGs) like carbon and methane. These personal experiences reflect global reality.

Climate-related weather disasters each costing one billion dollars, or more, are no longer one-off surprises. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) counted 14 such disasters in 2018: two tropical cyclones, eight severe storms, two winter storms, drought, and wildfires. The past three years (2016–2018) have recorded an historic number of billion-dollar disasters — more than double the long-term average.

Partisan politics has now permeated disaster recovery assistance. Although calamity doesn’t distinguish between red and blue states, it appears that the Trump White House and enough Congressional Republicans do. They have stalled the appropriation and release of funds to pay the price of 2017 and 2018 disasters — including the damage done to Puerto Rico. Whatever the outcome, the fight will likely add heat to the climate debate leading up to the 2020 elections.

Whereas mainstream climate science reflects the reality of what’s happening, the same may not be said of the politics…

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Joel B. Stronberg

Stronberg is a thought leader in the climate community with over 40 years of experience covering environmental and sustainability issues as a freelancer.