Throughout the day I’d seen much written about the Green New Deal, introduced through Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). I considered the political endorsements that followed. As I read the proposal, which NPR labeled “massively ambitious” (I agree), I couldn’t help but notice the lack of emphasis provided to the environment in totality, and the idea’s over-reliance on social and socioeconomic issues (which may be a detriment to actionable environmental efforts/achievements). I appreciate the thought behind the Green New Deal, and lean toward supporting the effort as a guideline.
Two additional thoughts:
I’ve long been a proponent of environmental issues. We must have serious discussions that yield actionable results with particular attention provided to our reliance on fossil fuels and carbon emissions. We must have actionable plans to expand renewable energies, and to encourage technological advances. We must radically revolutionize our infrastructure. We must reduce our waste, and subsequent pollution (we must also find effective ways to confront our existing pollution crises – on land, in the water, and in the air).
I believe any and all environmental considerations adopted as law should be applied to our international trade policies. Countries (ex. China) that haven’t adopted similarly responsible practices should face economic sanctions, or trade tariffs.
Some of those points are addressed (aggressively) in the Green New Deal. I applaud those efforts (ex. high speed rail should be a priority to reduce reliance on air travel). I’d like to see the Green New Deal incorporate something like this:
RECYCLING MANDATE: I believe we should implement a nationwide minimum recycling mandate. Mandatory recycling (of paper, cardboard, glass containers, aluminum, metal, recyclable plastics) would ease environmental impacts new productions create. To this point I believe (1) companies should be required to produce recyclable products, (2) there should be economic consequences for polluters that range in severity, per offense for industrial/individual offenders.
The Green New Deal is a disservice to the cohabitants of our planet. In none of the proposal is there consideration provided specifically, and directly to combating the illegal wildlife trade and its black market economy. Nor is there consideration provided to the very necessary discussion we should be having toward the preservation of endangered species, especially those identified as Keystone or Mutualist Species:
KEYSTONE SPECIES (per National Geographic) are organisms that helps define an entire ecosystem. Without keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether. Examples: African Elephants (African savannas); gray wolves (Yellowstone).
KEYSTONE MUTUALISTS (per National Geographic) are two or more species that engage in mutually beneficial interactions. A change in one species would impact the other, and change an entire ecosystem. Example: Pollinators (bees)
Not including endangered species (or a multi-billion dollar black market that thrives on their demise) in the conversation, I believe, severely limits what we may be able to achieve with any environmental policy. There won’t be a point to “protect the environment” if we aren’t willing to do anything to aid those best equipped to sustain ecosystems that create the environment.
We must have these discussions as well, and we should adopt actionable resolutions. We should be advocating for bans of wildlife trade. We should be banning all imports of endangered species (ex. elephant ivory, rhino horn) and there should be severe consequences for those convicted of poaching and trafficking.
We should impose economic sanctions on trade partners (ex. China), and individuals, that drive black market demand, and by proxy create crises that endanger species, and entire ecosystems.
We should impose economic sanctions on corporations that use pesticides/insecticides that are toxic to bees, for example. Those same consequences should be applied to polluters of our waterways (chemical run-off) that adversely impact salmon (for example).
My point is – this form of environmental danger and disregard always seems to be the overlooked element, or point of least concern. Yet it’s one of the most consequential parts of this discussion that isn’t provided substantial consideration.
This aspect of environmental disregard cannot remain unchecked or ignored.