The Green New Deal offers the best chance for surviving climate change, Kevin Baker argues in a persuasive article in the May Harper's magazine.
Rather than the impractical, quixotic, absurd chimera painted by critics on the left and right, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's plan for a non-carbon economy outlines the most realistic course for the country's future, Baker says. While critics believe that half-measures can be taken, the Green New Deal expresses the truth that a total economic makeover is required.
Baker turns to the Roosevelt New Deal for models of the full-scale action needed. Along with Depression-era Soil Conservation Service programs to restore dust bowl land ravaged by disastrous agricultural practices, Baker gives an extensive history of the Tennessee Valley Authority's transformation of poverty-stricken rural areas of Alabama and Tennessee.
Acknowledging that the TVA's damming of the Tennessee River looks environmentally destructive now, Baker makes a convincing case for a full-scale mobilization to end carbon emissions. Whether the TVA's massive electrification projects give the best model is debatable. Perhaps a proliferation of smaller projects would prove more effective.
While Baker ignores that World War II brought the biggest changes to the U.S. economy, his look back at Roosevelt's new deal illustrates that the United States once had the political will and social commitment to make major changes. While flawed, the Green New Deal offers a workable blueprint for that same level of unified action.