Citizen Action Monitor

350 Canada’s Green New Deal falls far short of its own goal of listening to “the best available science.”

350 Canada appears to have limited its “listening” to a very narrow range of “best available science.”    

No 2574 Posted by fw, January 24, 2020

On March 7, 2019, a short article, prepared by 350 Canada, appeared on rabble.ca entitled What is a ‘made in Canada’ Green New Deal? 350 Canada is the Canadian chapter of the international environmental organization 350.org. The article presented 350 Canada’s “own vision” of a Green New Deal for Canada, a vision that is evolving and growing.

Here is my abridged version of 350 Canada’s key points —

To explain the meaning of “made in Canada” Green New Deal, the authors cited four goals, along with four specific policy ideas to achieve the goals.

The Four goals:

  1. It meets the scale and urgency of the climate crisis by listening to and basing its prescriptions for climate action on the best available science.
  2. It creates millions of good jobs through a historic economic mobilization — one that works for everyone — to get Canada to 100 per cent renewable energy.
  3. It enshrines dignity, justice, and equity for all, which means that ensuring climate solutions are solutions that lift up all communities and reflect that reality that frontline, marginalized, and Indigenous communities are bearing the brunt of fossil fuel and climate impacts.
  4. It works in service of real reconciliation  — respecting the rights, title, and sovereignty of Indigenous peoples.

The four policy ideas to achieve the goals

  1. A freeze on fossil fuel expansion. We can’t solve the climate crisis and keep making it worse at the same time.
  2. Massive government infrastructure investments. We need to rapidly expand public investment in renewable energy, public transit, and other projects that serve both climate action and the public good.
  3. Provide a federal job guarantee to ensure that the labour force necessary for rapid change is available, and that all people are guaranteed meaningful and dignified employment or income  —  with no worker left behind.
  4. A commitment that a Green New Deal for Canada works in service of reconciliation with Indigenous peoples and upholds principles of justice, equity, and dignity for all. For example, by implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), in particular the right to free, prior, and informed consent and self-determination for Indigenous peoples.

In addition, 350 Canada acknowledged:

We also know that these goals and policies do not make up the entirety of a Green New Deal for Canada. That’s why we’re working with allies from across different communities, causes and movements to fight for a broad, transformative vision for a massive economic and social mobilization to tackle the climate crisis. As the movement for this grows, we look forward to building this vision together.

*****

My Comment submitted to rabble.ca in response to 350 Canada’s article —

Hate to rain on a ‘made in Canada’ Green New Deal promotion, but Britain’s Tim Watkins, a social and economic scientist with a background in public policy research, argues that the various versions of the Green Deal Movement are ‘hopium’ – irrational or unwarranted optimism.

In a long essay — reposted on my blog at this ShortLink: https://wp.me/pO0No-4D0 — Watkins examines in detail the terrifying predicament humanity faces in trying to prevent planetary collapse. In brief, here’s the dilemma we face –

To avert collapse, resulting in the deaths of more than six in every seven humans on Earth, every person on the planet would have to immediately stop using fossil fuels. However, if we stop using fossil fuels that supply 85% pf Earth’s power, our oil-dependent economy will collapse, causing a global famine that will kill more than six in every seven humans worldwide.

When all is said and done, Watkins suggests our best hope is to “have a clear focus on basic science and resist its drift towards the near-term, and projects that duplicate other agencies or the private sector.” This approach may provide us with a technological breakthrough. Failing that “then irrespective of how many windmills and solar panels we manage to erect before our resources run out, this civilization and possibly our entire species is done.

He points out — “Reducing our problem to climate change, then to CO2, and finally to measuring emissions only at the point of energy production is a dramatic misrepresentation of our dilemma. Slowing climate change is crucial but navigating its challenges is only possible if it is understood as one facet of planetary overshoot.”

And consider the irony, notes Watkins – “When our school students call upon government to ‘do something’ to address climate change (itself a mere subset of the growing collapse) they must engage a high degree of denial [themselves] to overlook the fact that the government they are calling upon is made up of rank incompetents …

No representative of 350 Canada replied to my Comment. 

*****

Fast forward to January 2020. An email from 350.org arrives in my inbox

Given that I subscribe to 350.org’s newsletter, it was no surprise to find an email in my inbox asking me to “Join us to call on every MP in the house to govern for a Green New Deal

Here’s the gist of the message —

Scientists say we can avoid some of the worst catastrophes by cutting global carbon emissions in half within the next decade. Canada’s nowhere close to achieving that mark. In the middle of this crisis, Canadian leaders are too busy pushing forward destructive pipelines, like Trans Mountain and Coastal Gas Link, that don’t have the consent of Indigenous Peoples. And they’re receiving proposals for even dirtier projects like the largest proposed tar sands mine ever proposed — Teck Frontier.

A Green New Deal is the only plan on the table that can meet the scale and urgency of the climate crisis. It would mean keeping dirty fossil fuels in the ground, action to tackle inequality, and the creation of millions of jobs in a renewable energy economy.

*****

My reply to 350.org’s email

Having reposted several articles on my blog, Citizen Action Monitor, critical of a wide variety of Green New Deal proposals, I reacted negatively to 350 Canada’s sentence: “A Green New Deal is the only plan on the table that can meet the scale and urgency of the climate crisis.” And having reposted hundreds of articles about climate change during my ten years of blogging, many of the world’s leading climate scientists are represented on this subject; so I know that a Green New Deal is most assuredly NOT “the only plan on the table that can meet the scale and urgency of the climate crisis.”

I sent the following reply to 350 Canada@350.org —

Sorry, but a Green New Deal, of whatever flavour, is not the solution to our complex, multi-faceted climate crisis.  Read this to find out why. Why is perpetual economic growth the engine of civilization’s inevitable collapse? Tim Garrett explains : Future growth depends on availability of energy and raw materials on a finite planet – and we’re depleting those resources faster than ever.

For readers unfamiliar with the work of Tim Garrett, he is a professor of atmospheric sciences at the University of Utah. His blog, Nephologue, discusses the complexities of the global economy. He has developed a “physics-based” economic growth model that is based on the finding that global rates of energy consumption are tied through a constant value to the accumulation throughout history of a very general representation of global wealth. While some see it as strange that someone would try to treat human systems as a simple physical system, Garrett thinks it is critical. “We are,” he declares, “never going to find solutions to the pressing global problems of the coming century by pretending we can beat the laws of thermodynamics.”

*****

350 Canada replied to my email as follows –

Hi Frank,

Thanks for your email and sharing your concerns with us. The Green New Deal is just not an economic shift, but a framework for a systems transformation. You can learn about the Green New Deal we are fighting for here in Canada, which is fighting the climate crisis, rising inequality, Indigenous rights, and creating millions of good jobs in a low carbon economy here: https://our-time.ca/gnd/

Cheers

350 Canada

*****

My reaction to the response

350 Canada made no reference at all to my declarative statement that “a Green New Deal, of whatever flavour, is not the solution to our complex, multi-faceted climate crisis.”  And no indication whatsoever that the frightening article by Tim Garrett had been read. 

350 Canada’s response reflects the title and subtitle of my post today:

350 Canada’s Green New Deal falls far short of its own goal of listening to “the best available science.” : 350 Canada appears to have limited its “listening” to a very narrow range of “best available science.”  

So, not only is 350 Canada not listening to the best available science, they are also not listening to feedback from responsibly informed Canadians.

The question readers have to ask themselves is this – Do I really want to sign a 350 Canada “petition to tell our MPs to make a Green New Deal a top priority.”

*****

SELECTED LIST OF 12 REPOSTS ON MY BLOG CRITICAL OF THE GREEN NEW DEAL

In addition to the two sources I have already mentioned as representing alternatives to 350 Canada’s seemingly very narrow range of “best available science” – one by Britain’s Tim Watkins and the other by Professor Tim Garrett — here is a list of 12 other robust critiques of a variety of Green New Deals by other reputable scientists, experts from other fields, journalists and authors.

“This madness is about to kill all of us with a climate apocalypse,” says Eric Schechter aka “LeftyMathProf” : To avoid extinction we’ll need two revolutions — long-term one to make the deep changes — quicker one to give us time to develop long-term one. No 2575 Posted by fw, January 27, 2020 — Don’t trust so-called “market solutions” to climate or any other problem. So-called green capitalism” is a lie. And most climate activists don’t see the underlying problem. For instance, Bill McKibben of 350.org seems to blame the oil companies for how they’re adding to the climate problem, but they’re just doing their job…

What the Green New Deal and other Good News fantasies do not explain about our climate predicament : “It’s a really good idea for citizens to understand that geology, biology, and thermodynamics caused our predicament.”  No 2435 Posted by fw, February 17, 2019 — Canadian Rob Mielcarski has an honors M.A.Sc. Electrical Engineering degree from University of British Columbia, and knows the laws of thermodynamics and other physics stuff. It’s therefore a really good idea for citizens to understand that geology, biology, and thermodynamics caused our predicament … so citizens can’t be persuaded to blame another person or tribe … and given that our culture, leaders, and news focus almost exclusively on GDP growth, which, as we’ve seen, is actually growth in burning carbon

“Human nature and our methods of governance are proving incapable of saving the world.” : William Rees of UBC says we need to ‘get real’ about climate science, and delivers 11 key steps leading to an effective “Green New Deal” No 2546 Posted by fw, November 13, 2019 The needed global emergency plan would certainly have included most of the 11 realistic responses to the climate crisis listed below — which, even if implemented today would at least slow the coming unravelling. And no, the currently proposed Green New Deal won’t do it.

Choose your climate crisis solution – Green New deal or Business as Usual? Both will doom us : Some choice! — BAU promises a magical future, while GND’s energy goals are delusional. No 2515 Posted by fw, September 1, 2019 — Andrew Nikiforuk is a Canadian journalist who has won multiple National Magazine Awards. “People are lining up behind these simple narratives because the human brain can’t handle much complexity.If aspects of the climate crisis are now beyond the comprehension of the voting public – and most politicians — then we are, indeed, in big trouble.

Ten reasons why the Green New Deal’s focus on renewables won’t work : Researcher Gail Tverberg explains the problems with GND’s proposed transition to wind, hydroelectric, and solar. No 2527 Posted by fw, October 1, 2019 — Gail Tverberg, a researcher focused on figuring out how energy limits and the economy are really interconnected, and what this means for our future. “The reasons why the Green New Deal won’t really work are fairly subtle. A person really has to look into the details to see what goes wrong. In this post, I try to explain at least a few of the issues involved.

The Big Picture – Nate Hagens explains why we fail to grasp The Big Picture of the human predicament : For starters, we don’t think too much about how we think – We’re self-blind, and systems blind. No 2557 Posted by fw, December 13, 2019 – Dr. Hagens of the University of Minnesota, explains that — A system, with networks of interactions, where an understanding of the individual components does not automatically allow for an understanding of the whole system, is called a complex system. Your car, your television, your smart phone are all complex systems. They involve multiple independent moving parts that interact with each other to produce a desired behavior. … Emergence refers to phenomena or behaviors in complex adaptive systems that are not present in their individual parts and could not have been predicted in advance just from knowledge of the parts. … Society now is on the cusp of emergence, not only in our collective impact, but in human collective thinking and understanding about our situation. … our society arguably now needs many more people who are competent generalists. Or who can see and understand how the whole picture fits together.”

The heated rhetoric of climate deadlines and threats of human extinction exaggerates what science actually says : Climate change is not a black and white issue, and there’s no absolute truth of what climate change means or demands of us. No 2542 Posted by fw, November 7, 2019 — Mike Hulme, Professor of Human Geography in the Department of Geography at the University of Cambridge — But there’s a long history of climate deadlines having come and gone without incident. And there’s a long history of portraying the climatic future in fearful and apocalyptic terms. What’s different about the predictions now is the increasing precision of the deadlines and the heightened level of fear unleashed. This accentuated rhetoric of deadlines is exaggerating what the science actually says. Moreover, the rhetoric of climate deadlines and threat of human extinction does not help psychologically, politically, or morally. Despite what some activists like Thunberg claim, climate change is not a black and white issue. There is no absolute truth of what climate change means or demands of us.

Why has the shift to renewables stalled despite repeated promotions of the Green New Deal movement? : Conceptually, transitioning from fossil fuels to renewables looks straightforward enough — in reality it’s quite complicated. No 2524 Posted by fw, September 25, 2019 — Roger Blanchard, chemistry prof. at Lake Superior State University, has a particular interest in energy, energy resources and petroleum. Politically, a Green New Deal is being promoted for achieving the goal of full replacement of fossil fuels with renewable energy. The Green New Deal sounds like an admirable endeavor but, realistically, once fully implemented the U.S. would still consume huge volumes of fossil fuels

The Green New Deal spells continued ecological disaster and runaway climate breakdown : If the GND’s false-hope promises are its best answer to the climate crisis, then we have no answer to the climate crisis. No 2516 Posted by fw, September 4, 2019 – by Rufus Jordana, a campaigner in the UK’s climate justice movement, and is currently studying at the University of Cambridge. In a clear and concise analysis, Rufus walks the reader through six major pitfalls of the Green New Deal.

Everyone’s talking about the Green New Deal, but no one can fully explain what it is, says critic Stan Cox : Audacious Green New Dealers are promising prosperity and sustainability through growth, without asking where the energy to fuel that growth will come from. No 2419 Posted by fw, January 17 2019 — Stan Cox is lead scientist and research coordinator at the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. The Green New Dealers nevertheless are holding out the promise of prosperity and sustainability through growth. Without asking where the energy to fuel that growth will come from, they predict that with heavy investment in renewable infrastructure, the U.S. economy will expand rapidly so that lower-income households can look forward to more, better jobs and rising incomes.”

Ocasio-Cortez’ vision of a Green New Deal is futile if it’s executed within a capitalist system : Any movement that doesn’t confront the power and wealth of the ruling elites will be undermined and eventually destroyed. No 2471 Posted by fw, May 9, 2019 — Shamus Cooke is a member of the Portland branch of Democratic Socialists of America. Cooke makes a compelling case for a “socialist Green New Deal.” He reviews the many pitfalls on the road leading to a socialist GND, not the least of which is launching a transformation of society within a capitalist system.

“The Green New Deal is a hollow slogan and grab-bag of demands” — WSWS : It is meant to divert the growing struggle of the working class into the dead end of the Democratic Party. No 2446 Posted by fw, March 6, 2019 — Reporters Bryan Dyne and Barry Grey, of the World Socialist Web Site — “The Green New Deal is not a program to address the urgent social needs of working people in the US. It is a hollow slogan and grab-bag of demands meant to divert the growing struggle of the working class into the dead end of the Democratic Party.

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