One of the biggest stories of the summer was the Green New Deal. The moment Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released her 14 page resolution to be passed by Congress, it was the subject of news channels and think pieces. So what is the Green New Deal?

How do you rebuild the world’s largest economy?

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It is a well-known fact that the world economy, as such, is not sustainable. The whole economy is based on consumption and extraction. We are currently using more planet than we have planets of resources. This cannot last forever and the strain will continue to increase as rising economies in India, China and Africa generate middle-class wealth and spending. The Green New Deal doesn’t take on this problem directly but in a more indirect manner. The plan has sweeping changes for the economy. From how mining takes place to how the waste is handled to energy, the Green New Deal seeks to rebuild the petrochemical and fossil fuel infrastructure into a new system that uses wind and solar as the drivers for energy needs. There is guidance for energy efficiency standards for vehicles, buildings and even changes how food is sourced. The plan asks us to move away from cars and towards mass transit. Besides taking on the energy infrastructure, the Green New Deal also addresses the loss of jobs from making this change that should save the climate, stop warming, So how does one reshape the world largest economy and do so in time to stop a changing climate?

The Green New Deal is just a first step…

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The Green New Deal is just a first step on the journey to changing an economy that is built on fossil fuels. The plan is a non-binding resolution of just 14 pages. It is not a bill that can be passed. It does direct any agencies to do anything. It is merely the beginning of a conversation about how American can reshape itself from a carbon-based economy to a green and sustainable economy that is not based solely on the extraction of hydrocarbons. The changes will be massive. As you can imagine, there is pushback to this plan. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, has already said that there would never be a vote on this non-binding resolution. Oil interests and coal interests run deep, especially in the West and throughout parts of the South. Then there is the problem with jobs.

How do you stave off the changes?

Americans are already in an economically precarious position. Most Americans are on paycheck away from poverty and losing everything: especially healthcare. The Green New deal also calls for sweeping social changes including a jobs guarantee, universal healthcare, nearly universal education and retraining opportunities. It’s a sweeping plan. America would not be the same if even half of its proposals were implemented and there is no real plan to pay for them at this time.

The oil industry employs many people but the new energy industries do not employ many people over time. A wind turbine can be run by a handful of people. Solar panels don’t require workers to work on them everyday. Most of the green jobs come in the implementation and installation of the systems. This is also combined with the fact that the economy is getting more automated at the same time. These changes could leave many people in the economy totally sidelined.

Our friend the hydrocarbon

While the plan would help the US achieve the goal of zero emissions by 2050, it would also change lives. Eliminating fossil fuels also doesn’t begin to solve the problem of a global supply chain or how to deal with the fact that petrochemicals are in almost everything from tires to plastics used in hospitals. It is in packaging, inks, paper, it touches every area of our lives. That means anything that uses plastic would have to replaced with something else. The technology for this is often not yet available. To begin to implement this plan will take trillions of dollars and will take decades to begin to achieve in meaningful ways. The Green New Deal is bold, its ambitious but it is a long way from anything meaningful. And there is also the part where someone has to sell the American people on the idea. Taxes will have to be raised. Businesses and jobs will have to change or die out. This would be done in the name of climate change, a sore subject with many voters.

To better understand the Green New Deal, watch this helpful video from Vox on the plan and its creators and how America could be rebuilt from the ground up with sustainability in mind: