The financial system of the NATO-bloc nations is increasingly bankrupt, and the people running the show hope to prop it up through massive transfers of wealth from the poor to the rich. The dilemma facing the ruling oligarchs is how to accomplish such a policy without provoking messy popular uprisings like that of the gilets jaunes in France.
Is there some way that the poor could be induced to willingly embrace such a policy? Why not package it as a liberal policy? It worked for the insurance/financial sector with Obama’s Affordable Care Act. An amazing number of people thought that they were getting some form of universal health care like the civilized nations have. Instead, they got an opportunity to contribute to the Wall Street bailout. What makes sense for the oligarchs, tactically, is to find a way to get people to want austerity.
The Green New Deal is a concept which has yet to generate a specific plan. It was a plank in Jill Stein’s 2016 Green Party presidential campaign, and received little attention from the press. But a House Resolution was submitted in early 2019 by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, proposing that a plan by the same name be developed, and the media chose to promote it.
The House Resolution’s description of what the plan would do is ambiguous and frequently hedges its bets, for example by calling for “eliminating pollution and greenhouse gas emissions as much as technologically feasible”, which is certain to generate some debate about what is indeed feasible. The resolution, and much of the media discussion, omit any reference to nuclear energy, but we know from this overview document released by Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez that she does not intend the policy to include nuclear energy. What this tells us is that an essential, but unspoken feature is a dramatic and painful reduction of energy production and consumption, possibly down to the level of some of the more impoverished African nations. Here’s why:
Many proponents of a “green” economy have a romantic attraction to so-called “soft” energy technologies. It is assumed that because solar and wind energy are fueled by sunbeams and breezes, that they are “natural” and therefore environmentally benign. This assumption ignores important facts.
The so-called “renewables” must be manufactured out of materials that must be mined. Mining interests are looking forward to major windfall profits if the U.S. goes all in for solar and wind, and in October 2019 Mining.com toasted Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as “unlikely heroines” for their industry. Some of the materials used to produce solar cells are highly toxic with serious consequences for the environment.
Because solar and wind are weather-dependent technologies which fluctuate, backup energy sources are required protect the electricity grid from damage and to prevent power outages. These backup sources are typically fossil fuel-based. A very thorough expose of the mythology surrounding “renewals” may be found in the film by Michael Moore entitled Planet of the Humans (which unfortunately, at the end, misleads its viewers by simply asserting that all energy sources are bad.)
Windmills are notorious for killing birds, including the eagles which are protected under the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The Obama administration granted special exceptions to these Acts, permitting wind farms to kill eagles and other birds far in excess of what is otherwise permitted. In some cases, companies are not required to report how many eagles they kill.
There is also the aesthetic issue of turning natural vistas into gigantic collection areas for solar or wind contraptions. In Germany, a protest movement as emerged against wind farms, and they have coined the term Verspargelung, which, loosely translated, means the undesirable transformation of a lovely landscape into a field of asparagus.
Because these technologies are extremely energy-diffuse, it requires a very large number of wind turbines or solar panels, spread out over a vast geographical area, to generate the same amount of energy as a fossil or nuclear plant that occupies a few acres of land. When you are considering the problems associated with these technologies, you must multiply them by the hundreds of thousands if you plan to use them to replace conventional power plants. To get an accurate look at the relative safety of an energy source, you don’t measure deaths from individual accidents, but rather, deaths per unit of energy produced, including from the mining and materials processing required to build millions of solar panels and windmills.
The Democratic Party proponents of a non-nuclear Green New Deal have either failed to consider these problems, or, more likely, they plan to call for energy austerity. They will argue that Americans over-consume.
This is ironic, because the advertised but yet-to-be-written plan also promises a major renovation of US infrastructure, which is presumably the “New Deal” aspect. To build infrastructure on the scale required to bring the US up to the level of China would require an enormous investment of energy.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt transformed the US through giant infrastructure projects that included hydro-power projects such as the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Hoover, Shasta and Bonneville Dams. These helped make possible the implementation of the Rural Electrification Act, which brought electrical power to remote areas of the US which had never enjoyed its benefits. This was essentially the opposite of what “green” advocates intend today.
Since the death of FDR, infrastructure development has stalled in the US, due to an unholy alliance between budget-slashing “fiscal conservatives”, and anti-development “Greens” who have continually opposed the building of mass transit projects and other infrastructure which would reduce pollution. It would not be unfair to call the name “Green New Deal” an oxymoron.
If we were serious about addressing climate change, renovating our infrastructure would certainly be an intelligent step. Americans presently use very dirty jet aircraft to travel long distances, when a grid of magnetically levitated trains, as are being built in China, could get Americans to their destinations just as fast, with minimal environmental impact. Comprehensive urban mass transit could eliminate millions of man-hours being wasted in emission-laden traffic jams.
However, we have no reason to believe that the oligarchs which own and operate our corporate media are serious about addressing climate change. Superstar “green” activists like Prince Philip and Al Gore show no signs of mitigating their extravagant, carbon-emitting lifestyles. It is likely that they are far more concerned with the stupendous financial bubble that is presently teetering on the edge of another collapse.
Based on past experience, we can have a pretty good hypothesis for how the oligarchs plan to weather the financial storm. Their go-to policy is fascism with a heaping helping of austerity, as they try to stay solvent through greater and greater transfers of wealth from the poor to the wealthy. But it is normally the case that the poor are less than enthusiastic about this.
You may have noticed that Western media have been rather circumspect in their coverage of the gilets jaunes; there are no howls of protest against the brutal treatment of the demonstrators by the government of Macron (apparently it isn’t a “regime.”) It can be tricky to run a propaganda campaign against impoverished people who are demonstrating against austerity (although a few Left-Neocons are tweeting that the demonstrations are a Russian conspiracy.)
The oligarchs seized upon Climate Change because they saw an opportunity to guilt-trip large numbers of people into embracing poverty and deprivation in order to save the planet. Consume less! Because it is your overconsumption of energy, and food, and all the CO2 you release when you exhale, that threatens the earth.
The Democratic proponents of the Green New Deal choose not to advertise the radical reductions in energy use which are essential to the concept. The politicians who are beating the drums for it would prefer to give the impression that solar panels and windmills will simply take up the slack in energy production without missing a beat. The Green Party, on the other hand, is somewhat more brazen about the sort of punishment they intend to impose upon lower-income people. In their 2020 campaign platform, they announce that “The Green Party advocates a rapid reduction in energy consumption through energy efficiency and a decisive transition away from fossil and nuclear power toward cleaner, renewable, local energy sources.”
These reductions, and the brutal economic depression which would accompany them, are inevitable without a commitment to massive expansion of nuclear energy, comparable to what the Chinese are planning. China needs rapid growth of energy production to power its country-wide mass transit grid, and other gigantic projects which are making it a leader in carbon reduction. This is what a real “Green New Deal” looks like.
There is still time for Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez to surprise us with a Damascus Road conversion to advocating nuclear energy, following the lead of prominent environmental scientists such as Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, and James Lovelock, who developed the Gaia theory. There has been some dissension in the ranks of the proponents of the Green New Deal concept. The deciding factor may be the corporate media, which can give the imperial thumbs up or thumbs down for the plan depending on whether it dovetails with the other, unspoken agendas which they are tasked to promote.
It is not out of the question that another deciding factor could be a gilets jaunes-style mobilization of the electorate, not unlike the one that carried Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez herself into office. But that depends on finding ways to inform the voter without the assistance of FOX news, CNN or MSNBC.