Green Deal or No Deal

By Sondra Abruzzo ’19
Sustainability Columnist

The “Green New Deal”. Over the past few weeks, many of us heard this buzz phrase circulating in the news, but what does it really mean, and what can we takeaway from this national proposal? In a nutshell, the Green New Deal serves as a sustainability plan for the nation, setting big goals to reduce fossil fuel dependency and emissions, and making other holistic economic changes that contribute to a sustainable society.

In October of 2018, the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report announced that we have about 10 years to turn around our polluting practices to avoid the detrimental effects of climate change such as rising sea levels, stronger storms, more severe droughts, and greater food insecurity. In response to this dire need for action, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Ed Markey ( D-Mass.) presented the Green New Deal to outline how the U.S. should holistically combat climate change.

For starters, the resolution seeks to restructure the energy system to supply 100 percent of the nation’s power demand through clean, renewable, zero emission energy sources. It also calls for infrastructure upgrades that are both energy efficient and resilient against future impacts of climate change. Within our carbon intensive transportation sector, the Green New Deal would expand electric cars, public transportation systems, and high speed rail remove the need for gas powered cars and airplanes. It calls on farmers to adopt more sustainable and low polluting agricultural practices, and eventually ensure universal access to healthy foods. The resolution addresses conservation by emphasizing the restoration of natural ecosystems and cleanup of hazardous sites. Beyond environmental work, the Green New Deal also incorporates progressive economic policies like universal health care, high quality housing, and guaranteed employment.

While many Republicans and moderate Democrats hold reservations about the ambitions resolution, advocates for the Green New Deal, including most climate scientists agree that combating the disastrous effects of climate change require this type of aggressive action. In fact, Democratic presidential candidates Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand all signed onto the resolution as co-sponsors.

While the nation takes a critical look at its own sustainability plans, we should look at our own community’s needs and goals here at Scripps. To date, the college does not have a published plan or office dedicated to ensuring sustainability at Scripps. It is also the only 5C without a commitment to achieving carbon neutrality. While we have the potential to improve our sustainability programming, most of the labor now falls on students who lack the time and resources to initiate these measures.

Scripps has taken steps to be more sustainable such as installing low water lawns, LEED certifying Schow Hall, renting out reusable dishes and flatware to students, and implementing a compost system at Mallot. However, just as the Green New Deal emphasizes fossil fuel reductions on a broad national scale, Scripps can reduce dependency on fossil fuels by retrofitting more buildings to be energy efficient, and sourcing its power from renewables. On the food and agriculture side, we should find ways to limit food waste (Mallot throws out about 1200 lbs of food each day), and grow our own food in the Scripps Garden.

Moving forward, Scripps should remain inspired by the ambitious nature of the Green New Deal, and continue to push for a comprehensive and holistic sustainability goals for the college’s future. We are a campus composed of bright and passionate individuals who can (and should) start taking climate action.