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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Staying Indoors Is Alright, But Going Outside Opens The Door To Endless Possibilities

Sometimes, we need to be outside in order to realize how delightful the world truly is so that we can limit our frustrations when things don't go as planned.

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Staying inside is a great feeling, I get that! But you certainly cannot choose to stay inside for a longer period of time because it will definitely lead to heightened levels of anxiety, stress, loneliness, fear, and irrational thoughts. After all, "an idle mind is a devil's workshop." I feel the same way and just love to be outside embracing the amazing sunshine when the weather's resplendent or even if it is raining.

This semester, I have had the pleasure of taking a biology course titled, "Field Ecology." Field Ecology is a dynamic course where the majority of the time is spent outdoors as opposed to inside the classroom. This class focuses on the hands-on application of locating extraneous organisms and plant-life that are a part of the NJ Bioblitz. Honestly, I have learned an extensive amount of information regarding the names of certain species that I have never even heard of and also learned more about certain species that I have certainly seen throughout my entire life.

In other words, being outside amidst nature reduces a tremendous amount of stress and makes you feel more rejuvenated than before. While a person may rejoice surfing the net or even doing simple errands indoors, they will not be able to experience the pure joy of interacting with the biodiversity found outdoors.

As a matter of fact, I love to bird watch and just hearing and seeing birds makes me further realize how beautiful life really is. Sometimes, we need to be outside in order to realize how delightful the world truly is so that we can limit our frustrations when things don't go as planned. For instance, TIME writer, Markham Heid writes, "Think of nature as the counterpoise to the scatteredness of your attention when you are swiping and clicking through different work, entertainment, and social sites. These "media multitasking" behaviors have been linked to higher rates of anxiety and depression-both of which time spent outdoors seems to combat."

This stands absolutely true to the fact that such tech-savvy activities will cause a person to lose moments of self-satisfaction and self-motivation. These activities are considered dry and will tend to exhaust individuals even more. However, an alternative solution is to go outside even for a few minutes to reassess your own personal level of growth and optimism. After all, have you ever met anyone who would prefer staying inside rather than outside for most of the day?

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