What is the Green New Deal?
(It blossomed long before the U.S. mid-terms of 2018)
Social movements have power. The best of them use slogans and imagery that captivate a wide public audience to make change. Currently, this phenomenon has surfaced as a “Green New Deal” (GND). It borrows a phrase from the 1930s Roosevelt program to rebuild the U.S. economy after our severe depression. It also ties a predicted inflection date of 2030 to this contemporary green campaign (if temperature rise isn’t tamed, then the world’s population is doomed to experience unfettered climate related disasters). This is potentially serious business.
Movements that are successful have convinced an adequate number of citizens that society now finds itself at a distinct “fork in the road” ahead, where our choice of paths has one lousy destination and one where we’ll be better off.
There’s no chance to view the future, so any regrets will have to be powered only by perfect hindsight. As new as the GND is, it was not “birthed” as a result of the 2018 elections where activists were successful. No, it’s been around far longer than that.
The specific elements of the GND (at least in the U.S.) are not widely understood and are still being prioritized. This may be due to the odds of whether any one of the initiatives can become successful new policy in what is likely an uphill battle. Those already standing in opposition will see multiple elements proposed within GND as “larding it up.” Proponents see a chance to right a greater number of past wrongs—so they keep expanding the number of problems to be solved. Some will lament that the era of political and policy “horse trading” is long gone, replaced by displays of hyper partisanship in key legislative votes. But if voter power can elect sympathetic representatives, then the greenies can take heart and win a few policy battles.
The 2018 elections did produce some very young, activist candidates with stong followings that have followed them to Washington. As a reflection of our past culture, some congressional representatives have taken on single acronyms or names like those in entertainment (Cher, Sting, J-Lo, or Brangelina).
It’s now A-O-C (Right) who’s a standout as both the youngest ever elected, but also the quickest to be outspoken in service to a cause. For her, two causes are climate change and economic justice.
And when it comes to supporters, there’s likely no better group to push for policy change than the young. They may have the best moral standing fighting climate change because they’re doomed to live with the results.
They might be diminished by a criticism such as “What to THEY know” (about history, culture, economics or science)? But even these exclusions can’t change an immutable fact that in this policy debate—they are the ones who must live with their future, longer than the rest of us. They have a bigger stake than their opponents (often businesses). Big business wants as little change to its operations as possible. Such self-interest and expediency probably doesn’t count much for two reasons—the U.S. has fostered more pollution than most other nations (but could redeem itself by exporting environmentally protective policy and technology). And, the young advocates (left) are preservation oriented, not cash motivated. They can be seen more as walking the altruistic path in the road ahead compared to business interests.
Elements of the Green New Deal:
According to Wikipedia, the Green New Deal has the following elements:
- Government-led investment in energy and resource efficiency, as well as reusable energies and microgeneration
- Low-carbon infrastructure redevelopment in order to create jobs
- A directed tax on the profits of oil and gas companies with proceeds being invested in renewable energy and energy efficiency
- Financial incentives for green investment and reduced energy usage, including low interest rates for green investment
- Re-regulation of international finance, including capital controls, and increased scrutiny of financial derivatives – likely along the lines of Basel II
- Curbing corporate tax evasion through compulsory financial reporting and by clamping down on tax havens
Federal government policies have been unfavorable to renewables and excessively generous to carbon-based industries for too long. Here’s a review.
(Below) Results of a December 2018 poll by George Mason University shows the favoritism for GND, but a gap between the political left and right.
How are geo heat pumps connected to the Green New Deal?
If the U.S. gets serious about reducing carbon emissions over the predicted critical period before 2030, there are a number of expected changes that will have to be made, including: more renewable electric power, higher mileage vehicles, more electric vehicles (including large trucks) and taking carbon away from all new buildings and many that already exist. As this proceeds, the replacement for fossil furnaces, boilers, water heating, and cooking will become carbonless, and conventional cooling will transition to heat pumps.
Furnaces, boilers, and water heating will drop their carbon utilization in favor of refrigerant compression with ground source and air source heat pumps. California already hit 33% renewable electricity in 2018 and expects 50% by 2030 and 100% by 2045. Solar PV is now required in all new housing. Installing geo heat exchangers will provide a renewable connection to the earth and the creation of thousands of new jobs. Mechanical contractors will attack the job of installing geo heat pump equipment on new housing and as retrofits, while localized “heat islands,” water consumption and summer humidity will be reduced by the elimination of cooling towers.
Someday soon, there will be domestic refrigerator/freezers that run off a household geo loop, as will the cold cases and freezers at your local supermarket. And those hot/noisy lobbies of retail ice cream shops? They’ll be putting that waste heat into hot water and underground, via those same geo heat exchangers.
Unfortunately, as the world record holder in mechanical efficiency, geo heat pumps are still the best kept secret that nobody understands. That will change if the Green New Deal accelerates to make serious carbon reduction progress this side of 2030.