What Is The Green New Deal And How Is It Beneficial To You?

What Is The Green New Deal And How Is It Beneficial To You?

Everything you should know about this environmental resolution.

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If you pay any attention to the news, you have probably heard something along the lines of a "Green New Deal" being mentioned often. You may even know it has sparked some controversy within Congress, but why? Why is it important? The Green New Deal (GND) is an ambitious non-binding, resolution to greatly reduce carbon emissions, create jobs in renewable energy, and generally fight climate change. The deal has already been met with much opposition, even within the Democratic party, due to being viewed as unrealistic or extremely expensive. On the other hand, supporters argue that if you want a massive change, you must take massive action.

This resolution has been produced to address the environmental concerns found by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which included the bold statement that we have just 12 years to keep the warming climate at 1.5C (Celsius). The acceptable degree of global warming used to be set at 2C, but after more extensive research 1.5C was found to yield much better environmental results. If the earth is warmed to over 1.5C, approximately 10 million people could become homeless due to rising sea levels, in addition to a great reduction of permafrost, water availability, and natural habitats. After working alongside the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and weighing these widespread consequences, Democratic Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, proposed the Green New Deal on February 7th. The deal outlined all the specific goals and requirements needed for keeping the U.S. below the 1.5C degree. This means replacing fossil fuels with forms of renewable energy in all possible aspects of energy use, updating all buildings to be energy-efficient, and even including social benefits. The GND not only addresses the environmental crisis but the economic crisis of wage stagnation and inequality.

One of the biggest questions from the left and the right is how this resolution will be funded. While it has been mentioned that "public money appropriated by Congress" will finance it, some Democrats also support more concrete methods of payment, such as PAYGO. PAYGO would require tax and spending changes in order to not increase the already present debt. Since Representative Ocasio-Cortez has already proposed a 70% tax on higher income, this could be one of the first tax changes to begin fueling the GND. The deal also addresses the need for keeping current nuclear energy sources in the mix, as it has been found that converting to 100% renewable energy is not realistic nor economical in a 10-year time frame. This is not a goal of the GND as Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Markey have agreed on keeping existing nuclear energy is much more economically sound, but also that the Green New Deal will not expand nuclear energy. Carbon pricing and supply-side policy are nonexistent within the resolution, which upset more hardcore environmentalists. With the Green New Deal being a resolution, it is an outlined suggestion for future legislation. That means difficult choices like carbon pricing and supply-side policy would be more relevant to take a stance on when an actual bill is drawn up in Congress.

It is difficult to know if the GND will be a hit or a flop because much of its success is contingent on concern for our planet. Many criticize the resolution as being too drastic or expensive, while many believe it is not drastic enough. It will be up to the lawmakers and our current and future leaders to prioritize environmental legislature within the next 12 years.

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Are Plastic Straws Really Killing Sea Turtles?

It's no secret that plastic isn't great for the environment, but how sensationalized is this topic actually becoming?

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When I first saw a video of a sea turtle getting a plastic drinking straw removed from its nostril, I was obviously upset like any other viewer would be. I care a lot about the environment and about animal life and it was upsetting to see that a product of human consumption and ignorant waste was destroying precious parts of our world. I wholeheartedly jumped on the bandwagon of "plastic straws kill sea turtles!!!" but only knew about the issue from this video and what I heard from people or saw on social media. The whole topic of plastic waste into the ocean remained in the back of my mind until the recent pledge of Starbucks to stop using plastic straws in stores by 2020 reminded me of the issue.

As the topic of plastics and their pollution of the environment (largely the oceans) has become so recently powerful I decided to do some research of my own. If I was going to tell people to stop using plastic straws because they were killing sea turtles, I wanted to be sure that I wasn't just repeating everything I heard from social media.

Turns out, plastic straws are hurting sea turtles and other marine life, but a lot of what I thought about plastic waste was exaggerated (at least from what I had heard from others). Sea birds are the most impacted creature by plastic straws, not sea turtles. About 1 million or more seabirds die every year from ingesting plastic straws and choking on them. In research from recent scientific studies, 80-90% of seabirds have some kind of plastic inside of their stomachs. Also, the ecological footprint that plastic straws alone leave on the planet is actually pretty small compared to food waste or fossil fuels.

However, all the buzz about sea turtles may come from the fact that globally 86% of sea turtle species are known to be affected by plastic debris. Overwhelming amounts of plastic garbage in the ocean have caused a steady decline of the leatherback sea turtle over the past several years, so much that they have been placed on the endangered species list. Plastics can hinder eating and consumption, breathing abilities, and even reproductive capabilities of all kinds of sea turtles.

So while plastic straws may not be killing sea turtles in hordes, they are killing sea birds, and plastic overall have caused huge and deadly effects to many sealife species. We have known that plastic is bad for the environment and the oceans for quite a while, given the fact that the Great Garbage Patch was discovered almost 20 years ago, so it's more than time to start caring about the problem. If we can eliminate single-use plastic straws that aren't biodegradable, we can stop using other single-use plastics and make a better effort to reduce our harmful impacts on the oceans. Individually, we can move towards small changes, which can move our society to a more sustainable and healthy place. If you are more interested in this topic, I would suggest reading about how you can make a change or looking at this article and checking out this scientific journal.

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Vinicius Amano

@viniciusamano

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We Need To Get Over Our Fear Of Science Before It Kills Us

Lives are lost when we fear instead of think.

vdurgin
vdurgin
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Anti-vaxxers. Climate deniers.

They are all the butt of internet jokes and memes. They are the focus of (too) many news stories and TV reports.

And their ignorance is going to kill people.

Yes, I said it. People who outright deny the scientifically-proven, data-measured reality that is climate change are either influencing the decisions of politicians or are themselves politicians working to hinder any policy that addresses the global crisis.

From not transitioning to clean energy to removing the United States from international accords and everything in between, climate deniers are setting America further down a path that will only exacerbate our climate problems and lead to a very different planet for future generations.

The refusal of vaccinations is already wreaking havoc across America. Twelve states currently face a measles outbreak. An unvaccinated boy nearly died of tetanus in Oregon.

Disease outbreaks, especially outbreaks of illnesses thought to be eradicated in the U.S., are more common now than they have been in decades.

It is the 21st century and one of the most developed and wealthiest countries in the world is facing diseases it worked tirelessly to never deal with again.

Why?

And why is it still considered "okay" to deny climate science?

Because we are afraid. We are especially afraid of things we do not understand.

For many people, science is one of those things we don't understand.

People without a background in science might look at climate reports and not understand a single thing other than the fact that the world is seemingly going to end. Or maybe the only thing they can take away from wordy, technical reports is that we need to completely change every facet of society in order to avoid something 50 years away.

If there is one thing people fear as much as they fear what they do not know, it is change. The future also tends to scare people a lot.

The refusal to vaccinate children also stems partially out of a fear of science. When one report debuts about how vaccines cause autism, the public panics. Why?

Because many people don't understand how vaccines truly work, and we fear what we do not understand.

Now that fear has embedded itself within the minds of too many people, it is hard to explain how vaccines work, and how beneficial they are to society.

Which means our fight to protect the country from previously-gone diseases is really just beginning.

It also means our fight to save the planet from destruction isn't going anyway any time soon, either.

So, this also all means science education needs to exist before college. It isn't enough to have members of society trained as engineers or chemists or environmental scientists or doctors.

It is possible to teach climate science and the basics of how vaccines work, among many other scientific inquiries, in K-12 education. We should learn about our planet and our health from the time we learn about our times tables and our history.

The only defense against ignorance is education.

The only way to combat the societal fear surrounding science is to create a society that is educated enough to not fear the science in the first place.

We need to kill this fear before the fear kills us.

vdurgin
vdurgin

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