The Green New Deal Is This Generation’s Moon Shot
Sending humans to the moon was a choice. Saving the earth is a necessity.
By D.D. GuttenplanTwitter JULY 29, 2019
What is it about the left and the space program? Back in the summer of ’69—long before he became The Nation’s lead editorial writer—the late Andrew Kopkind pointed out the inextricable ties between American militarism on earth and our country’s higher aspirations.
“We Aim at the Stars (But Hit Quang Tri),” he wrote, decrying a system “that swells the profits of the biggest military/space corporations without changing the system of distribution of those profits one whit.” Critics might say we’re still at it, still harshing the national buzz by noticing those on whose backs that giant leap was launched—just as we did at the time, when The Nation impertinently remarked that amid all the talk about “the blackness of space,” the faces on the screen were uniformly white.
So perhaps this is an odd place to confess my lifelong love affair with space.
The Green New Deal won’t be easy to pass—or to deliver. As President Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard.” Building the postcarbon economy we desperately need while unraveling the noose of inequality around our necks will be a gigantic undertaking. That’s the good news. The bad news is that unlike going to the moon, saving the earth isn’t an option. It’s a necessity.
D.D. Guttenplan is editor of The Nation and the author, most recently, of The Next Republic: The Rise of a New Radical Majority (Seven Stories Press).The Nation
Let’s get this out of the way first…
“Mr. Guttenplan, what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”Billy Madison, 1995, Paraphrased
At no point in Mr. Guttenplan’s rambling, incoherent essay was he even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought.
While it was a difficult, expensive and challenging endeavor, the “Moon Shot” had a defined, fixed objective which could be achieved with well-established aerospace engineering methods.
The Green New Deal has no fixed definition. There’s no way to know when it will have been achieved. And, most importantly, climate change, whether natural or anthropogenic, is no threat at all to Earth (AKA the planet).
The only way that the Green New Deal is analogous to the “Moon Shot” is that both are or were choices. We chose to go to the Moon. We can choose to destroy our economy… Or we can just choose to go back to the Moon again
The “Moon Shot” was the budgetary equivalent of NASA spending its entire budget on one program for 13 years.
In 1961, when President John F. Kennedy committed the nation to sending an astronaut to the moon “before this decade is out,” the federal budget enjoyed a surplus and economists were calling for government spending to stimulate the economy.
Even so, the final price tag still boggles the mind. Between 1960 and 1973, NASA spent $28 billion developing the rockets, spacecraft and ground systems needed for what became the Apollo program. According to a recent analysis by the Planetary Society, that translates into an estimated $288.1 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars.
That’s roughly equivalent to spending NASA’s current annual budget on a single project and sustaining that effort for more than a decade.CBS News
People can argue whether or not the Apollo program was worth the expense… I clearly think it was. However, it was not an economically disruptive project. It was never more than a small percentage of the Federal budget.
It’s impossible to even guess how much the Green New Deal would cost… Because we don’t even know what it actually is.
Senator Edward Markey and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a fourteen-page resolution for their Green New Deal on February 7, 2019. According to The Washington Post (February 11, 2019), the resolution calls for a “10-year national mobilization” whose primary goals would be:
“Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.”
“Providing all people of the United States with – (i) high-quality health care; (ii) affordable, safe, and adequate housing; (iii) economic security; and (iv) access to clean water, clean air, healthy and affordable food, and nature.”
“Providing resources, training, and high-quality education, including higher education, to all people of the United States.”
“Meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources.”
“Repairing and upgrading the infrastructure in the United States, including . . . by eliminating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as much as technologically feasible.”
“Building or upgrading to energy-efficient, distributed, and ‘smart’ power grids, and working to ensure affordable access to electricity.”
“Upgrading all existing buildings in the United States and building new buildings to achieve maximal energy efficiency, water efficiency, safety, affordability, comfort, and durability, including through electrification.”
“Overhauling transportation systems in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector as much as is technologically feasible, including through investment in – (i) zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; (ii) clean, affordable, and accessible public transportation; and (iii) high-speed rail.”
“Spurring massive growth in clean manufacturing in the United States and removing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from manufacturing and industry as much as is technologically feasible.”
“Working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible.”Wikipedia
Contrast that Billy Madison-worthy manifesto with…
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard.”President John F. Kennedy, 1961
A rambling manifesto vs. a specific objective.
The Heritage Foundation estimated that the cost of the Green New Deal’s carbon tax alone would be $3.9 trillion and 1.4 million lost jobs. Estimates of the costs vary widely, in part due to its ill-defined parameters.
In February 2019, the centre-right American Action Forum, estimated that the plan could cost between $51–$93 trillion over the next decade. They estimate its potential cost at $600,000 per household. The organization estimated the cost for eliminating carbon emissions from the transportation system at $1.3–2.7 trillion; guaranteeing a job to every American $6.8–44.6 trillion; universal health care estimated close to $36 trillion. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Wall Street is willing to invest significant resources toward GND programs, but not unless Congress commits to moving it forward.Wikipedia
The IPCC’s SR 1.5 indicated that it would take a $240/gal tax on gasoline and $122 trillion to fight the Global War on Weather in order to stay below the arbitrary 1.5 ˚C warming limit. Which is basically where we are now without wasting $122 trillion and destroying the Free World.
RCP4.5 is a strong mitigation scenario with the atmospheric CO2 concentration leveling off below 540 ppm in the second half of the 21st century.
The RCP 4.5 is developed by the MiniCAM modeling team at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Joint Global Change Research Institute (JGCRI). It is a stabilization scenario where total radiative forcing is stabilized before 2100 by employment of a range of technologies and strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The scenario drivers and technology options are detailed in Clarke et al. (2007). Additional detail on the simulation of land use and terrestrial carbon emissions is given by Wise et al (2009).
The MiniCAM-team responsible for developing the RCP 4.5 are:RCP Database
Allison Thomson, Katherine Calvin, Steve Smith, Page Kyle, April Volke, Pralit Patel, Sabrina Delgado, Ben Bond-Lamberty, Marshall Wise, Leon Clarke and Jae Edmonds
Spending $122 trillion to stay below the arbitrary 1.5 ˚C warming limit, when we’re already just about there, would be like calling for a “Moon Shot” while Neil Armstrong was in the process of manually landing Eagle on the Moon.
AOC should stick to solving world hunger.
Because she’s going to need to figure out how to feed 3.5 billion people after she bans natural gas.