T2B29: Cliden 2

The Green New Deal


Can plants think? Do they talk to each other? What does communication mean when it takes place between trees of different species with fungi acting as their channel?

This lovely piece on Suzanne Simard’s work will give you plenty to think about.

The Green New Deal

In yesterday’s update I talked about Climate Realism, i.e., response to climate driven by interests rather than values. The two aren’t unrelated; changing moral frameworks change interests too: say you recognize that

  • women deserve the vote and that

  • they need to be given equal wages for equal work

These are moral shifts, but once they begin to be enacted, the interests of women have to be taken into account in the distribution of budgetary allocations: day care subsidies are now a legitimate topic of interest for example. In this scheme, values change the story, and interests seal the deal. Therefore, the key task of political visionaries is to articulate new values that can drive new interests.

The Green New Deal is exactly that kind of slogan - conveying both values and interests. Value: sustainability; Interests: jobs.

Just as I looked at Biden’s challenges in the China-US relationship through the lens of the Belt and Road Initiative, the BRI, I will look at climate change and the Biden’s challenges in responding to it through the Green New Deal.

Not least because Kamala Harris, Senator and soon to be VP, is one of the Senate sponsors of the GND.

The Democrats have a difficult but exciting task ahead: of convincing American voters that massive state investment in new green technologies, in retraining American workers to work in these sunrise industries and in jobs that have higher wages are worth the expansion of government and the sunsetting of fossil fuel infrastructure (without disturbing the lifestyle that came from burning fossil fuels).

The GND is not a radical policy by any means. It’s not saying what many people think is truly needed: degrowth and the dismantling of the capitalist world system.

So we have a situation analogous to the world a hundred years ago:

  • We have an increasingly authoritarian fossil fuel capitalism.

  • We have the liberal democratic GND framing of the human condition.

  • We have degrowth and ecologization as the radical alternative.

The GND world is a twist on a largely familiar world: it accounts for (encourages?) great power rivalry and takes capitalist competition for granted.

Fossil fuel authoritarianism is a planetary suicide pact, one that we might end up signing. Ecologization is what we really need, but it may not be viable in the absence of widespread collapse.