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Want a Green New Deal? Here’s a better one.


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WE FAVOR a Green New Deal to save the planet. We believe such a plan can be efficient, effective, focused and achievable.

The Green New Deal proposed by congressional Democrats does not meet that test. Its proponents, led by Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), are right to call for ambition and bold action. They are right that the entire energy sector must be reshaped.

But the goal is so fundamental that policymakers should focus above all else on quickly and efficiently decarbonizing. They should not muddle this aspiration with other social policy, such as creating a federal jobs guarantee, no matter how desirable that policy might be.

 

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And the goal is so monumental that the country cannot afford to waste dollars in its pursuit. If the market can redirect spending most efficiently, money should not be misallocated on vast new government spending or mandates.

In this series of editorials, we propose our own Green New Deal. It relies both on smart government intervention — and on transforming the relentless power of the market from an obstacle to a centerpiece of the solution.


 

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/want-a-green-new-deal-heres-a-better-one/2019/02/24/2d7e491c-36d2-11e9-af5b-b51b7ff322e9_story.html?utm_term=.45bc66edeb29

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That starts with making sure that emissions-cutting efforts at home do not have unintended consequences. If the United States puts a price on greenhouse-gas emissions, other countries would lure U.S. manufacturers with the promise of lax environmental rules. Relocated manufacturers could then export their goods to the United States. The net effect would be no benefit for the planet but fewer U.S. manufacturing jobs.

 

One response is a kind of tariff on goods entering the country from places with weaker carbon-dioxide policies. That would both eliminate the incentive to offshore manufacturing and encourage countries to strengthen their own rules.

:twothumbsup:

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I'm not opposed to a carbon tax or something similar to it, the policy just needs to be very ambitious and will still require significant governmental spending (mass transit spending for example) and I like a good part of the article, but I hate this part of the article:

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Put another way, that would be more spent every three years than the total amount the country spent on World War II. The plan’s proposal to retrofit all existing buildings is also astonishing in its implied scale, and its promise to invest in known fiascos such as high-speed rail reveal deep insensitivity to the lessons of recent government waste.

Using non inflation adjusted numbers to compare data from the 1940s to 2020+ is just stupid. These guys should know better.

 

Also, high speed rail is necessary because it is far lower in emissions than airline travel(which the authors seem to disparage HSR without considering that there is a chance that there is no green way to travel via air; alternatives will be needed). They go on about how even with a carbon tax, there still needs to be smart government policy, gaps will need to be filled in. Well, smart government policy in other countries makes HSR a good policy, so maybe instead of abandoning the idea entirely, why don't we take what we see elsewhere, and contrast what we see in CA, and make something work better given our governmental context? hell, why don't we work on having reasonable intra city transit and having a reasonably well working non-"HSR" (but still relatively fast, faster than what we have now) system as a start?

 

Carbon policy must be bold, but transportation not so much?

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1 minute ago, mikechorney said:

Continue to develop cheaper less-carbon intensive energy sources that make oil and gas less economically attractive.

Don't destroy the global/American economy with BS solutions that don't work.

 

I think we can all agree with your first point as a logical part of the solution. As to your second comment, I think that it's a bit contradictory. I do agree that there are solutions that would both work and hurt the American economy, such as just legally forcing companies to emit less pollution. But I haven't heard of any solutions that would both hurt the economy and not work. 

 

However, the real question we must confront is: Is saving the global ecosystem (and thus our collective civilization) worth a reduction in global GDP? I would argue yes. Owners of capital (the majority, at least), would likely answer no because they will be okay or will die before the effects are truly felt. 

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5 minutes ago, CitizenVectron said:

 

I think we can all agree with your first point as a logical part of the solution. As to your second comment, I think that it's a bit contradictory. I do agree that there are solutions that would both work and hurt the American economy, such as just legally forcing companies to emit less pollution. But I haven't heard of any solutions that would both hurt the economy and not work. 

 

However, the real question we must confront is: Is saving the global ecosystem (and thus our collective civilization) worth a reduction in global GDP? I would argue yes. Owners of capital (the majority, at least), would likely answer no because they will be okay or will die before the effects are truly felt. 

Having lived outside of the U.S., and for four years in a developing economy, I can say that a tremendous amount of people still live in poverty/hunger.  The growth in the global economy has raised the standard of living of billions of people over the last several decades -- and much of that has been driven by relatively cheap energy.  Reduction in global GDP will hurt the poor (not the rich) first, and the most.

 

Alternatives need to be developed -- and made economical quickly.  But draconian actions, before there are enough viable alternatives is asinine.  

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It’s fascinating to me that so many on this board will chastise people for supposedly voting against their own interests, and then advocate implementing policies that are against the interests of the nation. I look forward to 10 responses to this which all begin with some variation of “there is a difference between...” :p

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I think a significant carbon tax is a good idea to start with, but I also want to take issue with the overall premise of the piece that a Green New Deal is impossible. To demonstrate how impossible it is they say this:

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The Green New Deal that some Democrats have embraced is case in point. In its most aggressive form, the plan suggests the country could reach net-zero greenhouse-gas emissions by 2030, an impossible goal. Christopher Clack, the CEO of analysis group Vibrant Clean Energy, estimates it would cost $27 trillion to get there by 2035 — a yearly price tag of about 9 percent of 2017 gross domestic product. (Total federal spending is currently a bit more than 20 percent of GDP.) Put another way, that would be more spent every three years than the total amount the country spent on World War II. The plan’s proposal to retrofit all existing buildings is also astonishing in its implied scale, and its promise to invest in known fiascos such as high-speed rail reveal deep insensitivity to the lessons of recent government waste.

Using their own source, during WWII we were spending 37.5% of our total GDP on defense at the peak of the war. The 9% yearly price tag of the "impossible" Green New Deal is less than the 9.5% of GDP that we were spending on defense during peak of the Vietnam war. I won't get into the weeds on the political feasibility of passing any kind of GND, but if climate change is an existential threat and the cost to get to net zero emissions is a Vietnam war (monetarily speaking), that doesn't sound impossible.

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17 minutes ago, sblfilms said:

It’s fascinating to me that so many on this board will chastise people for supposedly voting against their own interests, and then advocate implementing policies that are against the interests of the nation. I look forward to 10 responses to this which all begin with some variation of “there is a difference between...” :p

 

Are you talking about people pushing for extreme climate action at the expense of the national/global GDP? Because I don't think that's acting against one's interesting, it's acting in favour of the long-term interest at the expense of the short-term interest. I would rather be hit with financial penalties now than have global water and refugee wars when I am in my 70s and 80s. There are literally no actions that can be done now to slow climate change outside of the extreme options. It's totally unfair to those in developing nations, I agree, but it's either the survival of global civilization or not.

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2 hours ago, b_m_b_m_b_m said:

I'm not opposed to a carbon tax or something similar to it, the policy just needs to be very ambitious and will still require significant governmental spending (mass transit spending for example) and I like a good part of the article, but I hate this part of the article:

Using non inflation adjusted numbers to compare data from the 1940s to 2020+ is just stupid. These guys should know better.

 

Also, high speed rail is necessary because it is far lower in emissions than airline travel(which the authors seem to disparage HSR without considering that there is a chance that there is no green way to travel via air; alternatives will be needed). They go on about how even with a carbon tax, there still needs to be smart government policy, gaps will need to be filled in. Well, smart government policy in other countries makes HSR a good policy, so maybe instead of abandoning the idea entirely, why don't we take what we see elsewhere, and contrast what we see in CA, and make something work better given our governmental context? hell, why don't we work on having reasonable intra city transit and having a reasonably well working non-"HSR" (but still relatively fast, faster than what we have now) system as a start?

 

Carbon policy must be bold, but transportation not so much?

I have wanted high speed rail for years, but for whatever reason it costs double to triple to get it done in this country, not to mention all the lawsuits and red tape from local and state governments. Congress needs to pass a bill that forces it through and shields construction from hurdles to fast track it. 

 

I have heard some coworkers talking about battery powered planes becoming viable in the near future. They were probably taking about prop planes though. 

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I object to the idea that an emissions reductions scheme would have a negative effect on GDP (like this is a truly meaningful measure of the economy and how actual people are affected) once you consider the costs of increased wildfire activity, hurricane strength, and increased frequency and intensity of flooding events, drops in agricultural output, and effects on human health of migrating tropical and other diseases.

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9 minutes ago, Massdriver said:

I have wanted high speed rail for years, but for whatever reason it costs double to triple to get it done in this country, not to mention all the lawsuits and red tape from local and state governments. Congress needs to pass a bill that forces it through and shields construction from hurdles to fast track it. 

 

I have heard some coworkers talking about battery powered planes becoming viable in the near future. They were probably taking about prop planes though. 

A lot of that is just the problem with any kind of infrastructure building in the US. We are higher in costs, sometimes by an order of magnitude, per km of transit or road construction when compared to other oecd countries. This should be fully investigated but isn't for whatever reason.  

 

https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/01/why-its-so-expensive-to-build-urban-rail-in-the-us/551408/

 

@Jason

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33 minutes ago, CitizenVectron said:

 

Are you talking about people pushing for extreme climate action at the expense of the national/global GDP? Because I don't think that's acting against one's interesting, it's acting in favour of the long-term interest at the expense of the short-term interest. I would rather be hit with financial penalties now than have global water and refugee wars when I am in my 70s and 80s. There are literally no actions that can be done now to slow climate change outside of the extreme options. It's totally unfair to those in developing nations, I agree, but it's either the survival of global civilization or not.

 

Canada and the US will not be impacted in remotely the same way or degree as poor nations related to the effects of climate change, but rich nations will be the most negatively affected by policies designed to decrease the impact of climate change.

 

I though have no issue with doing things against your own interests for the sake of others or principle.

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13 minutes ago, sblfilms said:

 

Canada and the US will not be impacted in remotely the same way or degree as poor nations related to the effects of climate change, but rich nations will be the most negatively affected by policies designed to decrease the impact of climate change.

 

I though have no issue with doing things against your own interests for the sake of others or principle.

A steep carbon tax is going to hurt, but in less than 20 years America would be dominating the world economy in exporting green energy. The pain wouldn’t last as long as many of us think. Wind and solar are already the cheapest option in many places. Once we master energy storage, electricity can be nearly 100% carbon free. 

 

The biggest challenges are going to be concrete and Ag. Ag in particular needs to be handled with care since we don’t want mandates that result in starvation. WaPo has it right in that we should implement huge incentives for green practices. 

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As an addendum to the OP, I wanted to hear responses to this article:

 

The Green New Deal Won’t Work Without Better Batteries

 

...Because I’ve read some literature arguing that current ‘green’ technologies end up being just as wasteful as fossil fuels when used on a mass scale because of the inevitable waste thrown off by increased production of batteries to store the energy channeled by solar/wind/etc. 

 

And I don’t see this technological ‘bottleneck ‘ discussed in very many Green New Deal proposals.

 

But I’m also not an expert on this subject.

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6 minutes ago, Signifyin(g)Monkey said:

As an addendum to the OP, I wanted to hear responses to this article:

 

The Green New Deal Won’t Work Without Better Batteries

 

...Because I’ve read some literature arguing that current ‘green’ technologies end up being just as wasteful as fossil fuels when used en masse because of the inevitable waste thrown off by increased production of batteries to store the energy channeled by solar/wind/etc. 

 

And I don’t see this technological ‘bottleneck ‘ discussed in very many Green New Deal proposals.

 

But I’m also not an expert on this subject.

This seems like a chicken/egg issue. Some body had to push 1 for the other to advance.

Stanford Scientist have been working on a Urea battery specifically for this issue

 

https://news.stanford.edu/2017/02/07/stanford-engineers-create-low-cost-battery-storing-renewable-energy/

 

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1 hour ago, Signifyin(g)Monkey said:

As an addendum to the OP, I wanted to hear responses to this article:

 

The Green New Deal Won’t Work Without Better Batteries

 

...Because I’ve read some literature arguing that current ‘green’ technologies end up being just as wasteful as fossil fuels when used on a mass scale because of the inevitable waste thrown off by increased production of batteries to store the energy channeled by solar/wind/etc. 

 

And I don’t see this technological ‘bottleneck ‘ discussed in very many Green New Deal proposals.

 

But I’m also not an expert on this subject.

From all the articles I’ve read for the last 10 years on green energy, energy storage continues to be the largest roadblock to carbon free renewable energy. As I mentioned earlier, solar and wind are often times the cheapest option for many regions, but grids can only handle x % for technological reasons and reliability. If we had better energy storage, whether it comes from batteries, compressed air, heat storage (eg molten salt) or whatever wins economically, we could transform the grid. It seems like tech is improving, but not quickly enough. Natural gas can help supplement solar, wind, and nuclear until they figure out storage tech. But government needs to do more to speed this tech up. 

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Grid scale energy storage is largely a solved problem from an engineering perspective.

1) make a big reservoir to fill with water, preferably directly adjacent to a major river like the Ohio or Mississippi or hell even near the ocean

2) when the juice is flowing, fill with water

3) release water into turbines to generate electricity when the juice isn't flowing

 

The problems are primarily political. Areas not near large bodies of water (read: Phoenix) should be largely abandoned, and will probably be so regardless. This doesn't require some new miracle tech, just a lot of civil engineering.

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39 minutes ago, b_m_b_m_b_m said:

Grid scale energy storage is largely a solved problem from an engineering perspective.

1) make a big reservoir to fill with water, preferably directly adjacent to a major river like the Ohio or Mississippi or hell even near the ocean

2) when the juice is flowing, fill with water

3) release water into turbines to generate electricity when the juice isn't flowing

 

The problems are primarily political. Areas not near large bodies of water (read: Phoenix) should be largely abandoned, and will probably be so regardless. This doesn't require some new miracle tech, just a lot of civil engineering.

I’m skeptical that it has been solved economically. Technically we can do it, but it makes wind and solar a lot more expensive. It will be solved eventually, but more research needs to be put into it. 

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8 hours ago, b_m_b_m_b_m said:

A lot of that is just the problem with any kind of infrastructure building in the US. We are higher in costs, sometimes by an order of magnitude, per km of transit or road construction when compared to other oecd countries. This should be fully investigated but isn't for whatever reason.  

 

https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2018/01/why-its-so-expensive-to-build-urban-rail-in-the-us/551408/

 

@Jason

Cost of labor is probably one of the largest reasons. I have a friend that works in the NY Subway driving a fucken bobcat around cleaning up trash from maintenance crews and he makes about 15 grand a month.

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