In 1999 I marched at the WTO in Seattle with my then 5-year old daughter. I’m proud that I took to the streets to protest the corporate agenda. It was obvious to me back then that our world was headed in the wrong direction. My chief concerns at the time were the large and growing environmental problems as well as corporate power. Both problems have only worsened over the ensuing 10 years.
Right now, tens of thousands of protestors are again taking to the streets, this time in London at the G20 summit. The twin crisis of climate change and global recession are at the heart of the matter. Nothing less than the future of the planet may be at stake. Are the world leaders listening to the people or the corporations?
The beauty of these twin problems is that it is possible to solve both of them simultaneously. We can solve the recession and address climate change with a Green New Deal. This is the beauty of sustainable business and a sustainable economy. If we do this right, we fix both problems at the same time. If we do it wrong, fixing one exasperates the other. Given the corporate agenda, I fear that we’ll work to jump start the old economy - carbon emissions be damned.
Here is the problem – Climate change won’t wait and doesn’t give a damn about the global economy.
Just a month ago, the world's climate scientists met in Copenhagen and concluded that “the worst-case IPCC scenario projections are being realized. … including global mean surface temperatures, sea-level rise, ocean and ice sheet dynamics, ocean acidification, and extreme climatic events.”
Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize-winning scientist who has been appointed Energy Secretary by Barack Obama, says: "I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what will happen. We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California. I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going either."
If you think we have economic problems now, I think we’ll look back to now as great times if the people of LA, San Diego and SF are forced to leave their cities and places like Florida and NYC slip under the sea due to rising oceans.
A Green New Deal has the potential to put people back to work, solve our looming energy problems, clean up the environment, address climate change and refuel Main Street. Time is running out. We need to act now and we need bold progressive leadership.