Capitol Alert

‘The science is clear.’ California lawmakers say Green New Deal will fight global warming

2018 was the fourth hottest year on record

Earth's global surface temperatures in 2018 were the fourth warmest since 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
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Earth's global surface temperatures in 2018 were the fourth warmest since 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Hotter summers. Colder winters. Mega-storms and massive droughts.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change paints a grim picture of how global life will change in the 21st century as a result of human-caused climate change.

This week, California lawmakers drafted an Assembly Joint Resolution to support the “Green New Deal” to battle global warming now being considered in Congress.

Assemblyman Todd Gloria, D-San Diego, is the primary sponsor of AJR 7; co-sponsors include Assemblymembers Ash Kalra, D-San Jose, Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, Rob Bonta, D-Alameda, Wendy Carrillo, D-Los Angeles, David Chiu, D-San Francisco, Laura Friedman, D-Glendale, Eduardo Garcia, D-Coachella, Reginald Jones-Sawyer, D-Los Angeles, Robert Rivas, D-Salinas, and Mark Stone, D-Scotts Valley.

“In California, we know business as usual won’t stop climate change. That’s why we have taken decisive action to curb our carbon footprint by committing to clean energy, promoting smart growth, and reducing tailpipe emissions – but we cannot be alone,” Gloria said in a statement announcing his resolution.

Much as the original New Deal was drafted to combat the Great Depression, sponsors of the Green New Deal — Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-New York — call for the scaling back of the fossil fuel industry, to be replaced with jobs in renewable energy, such as wind and solar, according to an Associated Press report.

“Our energy future will not be found in the dark of a mine but in the light of the sun,” Markey said at a Capitol news conference, according to the AP.

Gloria’s AJR 7 cites California’s year-round wildfire season — the Thomas Fire was a record-breaker in 2017, the Mendocino-Complex Fire shattered that record in 2018 — as one example of the way human-caused climate change is already harming the state.

Former California Gov. Jerry Brown recently announced that the Doomsday Clock, a metaphor that uses minutes to midnight to measure how close humans are to a global apocalypse, will remain at 2 minutes to midnight, in large part due to unchecked global warming.

The Green New Deal has been criticized by Republicans, including California House Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-Oroville, whose district was ravaged by the Camp Fire. LaMalfa said the proposal “is so far out of touch with reality, it cannot possibly be taken seriously,” in a Facebook post.

LaMalfa wrote that “this proposal legitimately suggests that we ‘get rid of cow farts,’” a reference to the IPCC’s findings that methane generated by cow flatulence and feces is a major contributor to global warming. Livestock are estimated to be responsible for one fifth of all methane emissions between 2003 and 2011, as reported by Forbes.

The Green New Deal does not specifically mention methane emissions, but does call for a global reduction in emissions from human sources between 40 and 60 percent by 2030, as well as net-zero global emissions by 2050.

The IPCC estimates that a failure to keep the global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius would result in more than 350 million people exposed to deadly heat stress by 2050 and, by the year 2100, the United States could see $1 trillion in damage to public infrastructure and coastal real estate and lose more than $500 billion a year in lost economic output.

“The science is clear: unless we take immediate and bold action, the safe and clean future we envision for our children and grandchildren will not exist. It’s time the White House gets serious about climate change. It’s time America goes beyond business as usual. It’s time for a Green New Deal,” Gloria said in a statement.

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Andrew Sheeler covers California’s unique political climate for McClatchy. He has covered crime and politics from Interior Alaska to North Dakota’s oil patch to the rugged coast of southern Oregon. He attended the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
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