On Fire – The (Burning) Case for a GREEN NEW DEAL

By Naomi Klein

Reviewed by Ann Nye

Jane Fonda frequently holds up Naomi Klein’s On Fire book at her Fire Drill Friday rallies, so I decided to buy it.  I learned Naomi’s parents were active against the war in Vietnam.  In 1967, her father was denied Conscientious Objector status and “faced a choice between going to Vietnam, going to jail, or going to Canada,” and he chose Canada.  Subsequently, Naomi was born in 1970 and grew up  in Montreal, Canada.

Naomi’s On Fire book wonders “why are we not acting like our house is on fire when it so clearly is.”  Looking back on her body of work that includes books, films and talks, Naomi realized the disparate crises she was responding to (economic, social, ecological, and democratic) told a story just like the bold vision that is encompassed under the banner of a “Green New Deal.”  To support this vision, Naomi compiled her talks and writings in chronological order ending with her April 2019 talk, “The Art of the Green New Deal” and her “Epilogue: The Capsule Case for a Green New Deal.”

While I enjoyed catching up with Naomi’s writings/talks from June 2010, just reading her Introduction and Epilogue provides you the essence of why we need a Green New Deal.

Back in 1988 with the threat of global warming, the United Nations created the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to provide policy makers with the most reliable information to inform their decisions.  Usually, the IPCC’s projections have been conservative, underestimating the risks.  Yet, in 2018, their dire prediction reported  that to keep the warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius  would require “cutting global emissions approximately in half in a mere twelve years and getting to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Years of climate activism raised alarms about the terrifying science and said NO to new fossil fuel projects, but didn’t harp as much about climate justice and fighting for a equitable economy and society.  The game changer, according to Naomi, came shortly after the 2018 midterms, where “hundreds of young members of the Sunrise Movement, wearing shirts that read WE HAVE A RIGHT TO GOOD JOBS AND A LIVABLE FUTURE, chanted for a Green New Deal as they lined the halls of Congress.”

Three months later, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts stood in front of the Capitol and launched a formal resolution for a Green New Deal — a moon shot approach to decarbonize the environment by promoting huge investments  in renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean transportation; guaranteeing jobs to all who want to work; and ultimately free universal health care, child care and higher education.  Green jobs aren’t just about putting up solar panels.  Green jobs are low carbon jobs like, nursing, education, childcare, making art and jobs that make our community stronger, more humane and better able to handle a climate-disrupted future.

The Green New Deal provides a political framework to meet the IPCC targets in the United States and a path to turning that framework into law.  According to Naomi, “The plan is pretty straightforward:  elect a strong supporter of the Green New Deal in the Democratic primaries; take the White House, the House, and the Senate in 2020; and start rolling it out on day one of the new administration (the way FDR did with the original New Deal in the famous “first 100 days,” when the newly elected president pushed fifteen major bills through Congress).”

Check out Naomi Klein’s executive-produced 7 minute video (April 2019), A Message from the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez,  with artist Molly Crabapple and Congressperson Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d9uTH0iprVQ

1 Comment

  1. Thank you for publishing the above article; it strikes a “get out there and go to work” on a Green New Deal, with enthusiasm and reasons for moving forward on it.

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