The Green New Deal is out there, and we are hopeful that it will be implemented . . . and that it will be drastic enough. I thought about what it would look like . . . and it may be a good opportunity to have a discussion about that because, other than having to get off fossil fuels . . . what does that mean? And what does that look like?
Community Solutions uses the term “curtailment” and Ende Gelaende in Germany uses “degrowth.” Both need to be out there side by side with “getting off fossil fuels.” The consumer economy is not sustainable on a finite planet. Let’s do a little subsistence living. If that is going back . . . then that is what we need to do. Remember, this is a crisis we are in.
Let’s look at where we came from and where we are. On this continent, like many others, people lived off the land. They built shelters, grew or gathered food, and reproduced. There was basically “one” structure to heat. I believe buildings account for about 30 percent of the CO2 in the atmosphere. So, because of our consumer economy and need for jobs, our lifestyle has created the need for more buildings: manufacturing plants, office buildings, distributions centers, and big box stores, which all need heat, electricity, and air conditioning. Our focus should be to eliminate as many of these as we can.
Granted, we will decide what buildings we need to keep, as in hospitals and schools, etc.
Also, we need to remember that creating a solar, wind, rail, etc. infrastructure will need fossil fuels and will create more CO2. The CO2 currently in the atmosphere will last 20-200 years. It will not go away overnight simply because we are no longer using fossil fuels.
For starters and a good example, we need to ground all the planes. Vacations and business trips are nice but not necessary. And, it is important to remind ourselves we are talking about survival here, in order to determine what is essential for life . . . not what we are used to. Planes take huge amounts of oil and pollute. Chicago’s O’Hare airport has planes taking off and landing every few minutes.
So that means thousands of people will be without a job. What do we do with those people? Some will be at a much higher pay scale than others. And, there will be many thousands of industries that will go through the same process of determining whether their product is “essential” or not.
We have been looking at a Just Transition for those working in the fossil fuel industry, but the reality is, it is much wider than just that industry. For example, the grocery store has aisle after aisle of shelves filled with products that we can live without. We may be asking what type of economy we will end up with.
Second, and maybe this should be first, reduce the military, substantially. It is one of the biggest contributors of CO2. In the US, it also has the biggest budget. Reducing it will free up money for other renewable energy projects, etc. Again, it will involve creating many thousands of unemployed people.
Build a better rail system, along with more buses, and electric cars. This could actually create more jobs instead of eliminate them. And instead of buying a new electric car, perhaps kits could be installed in existing cars, which would be more beneficial than sending cars to a landfill. Car pooling could be encouraged or incentivized.
Reduce Beef and Dairy
Right now rainforests are being slashed to grow cows. Not good. It is a CO2/methane thing, as well as a land issue. We are not trying to be mean to all the people eating beef and dairy. It takes way too much energy/CO2 to grow cows in the form of millions of acres with big machinery to grow grain . . . to feed the cow . . . and . . . don’t forget water, too. They also give off methane. And, then there is the land portion. Millions of acres to grow grain to the feed the cows. As a reminder . . . we live on a finite planet. If we only had 200,000 people on the planet, eat all the cows and dairy you want. There could be a way to incentivize eating less beef and dairy. And, again, there will be thousands of jobs lost.
Before we do anything, change the building codes to passive solar and reduce the square footage to much smaller homes. There may be other energy saving elements to incorporate, too. Then, we need to do energy retrofits on all existing houses and buildings. Germany started this in the 90s, I believe, where the walls are 18” thick or something along those lines. There are other elements incorporated but it takes very little energy to heat and keep cool.
How to Heat Our Homes
Wood stoves . . . rocket stoves . . . and mini split heaters? Any other ideas? Correct me if I am wrong but I don’t think you can use solar to heat a house.
Solar and wind are the renewable sources for electricity, along with geothermal and hydro.
Living off grid has taught me what electricity is good for: refrigeration, lights, and charging my cellphone. Well, with a conventional home, there are fans that move air around to heat or cool a home. And, there is the pump that brings water up from a well. All the other things like TVs, hair dryers, microwaves, toasters, etc. can be lived without. Reducing the consumption or load is the goal before putting up a solar system.
It is time to end monoculture crops . . . and bring back the small, family farm. It is destroying the soil . . . and we need that soil to grow food. Monoculture crops create the need to use pesticides and fertilizers, both are not good for the soil. Crop rotation may help build soil but not the way Nature does. Along with small farms, no till and cover crops need to incorporated. Another term for this is regenerative farming.
Processed food in the grocery store needs to be eliminated. Why we are at it . . . we need to get rid of the grocery store . . . the BIG ones. Small local grocery stores with bins of food need to be incorporated to eliminate individualized packaging.
This doesn’t get talked about . . . at all . . . as part of the climate change problem. And, it really should have been near the top. And, I hesitate to discuss it because, I am sorry, but we don’t have time to wait until women of childbearing years come to the understanding that it is good to only have a few children. Yes, that would be honoring a woman’s right to choose. Well, we have a crisis on our hands, which will mean taking some other measures.
China did it . . . we can do it. Although China did create a little snafu in their decision to have the one child policy. Culturally, males are valued more than females. So, getting rid of female fetuses through abortion or adoption, left a huge number of young men . . . without women. I guess women are . . . important in China . . . for something.
This is my list. Of course there are many other things to implement. Ideas? Your list?