What would a more specific, realistic Green New Deal look like? Its features would include:
- A carbon tax set high enough to level the playing field in power generation so green-energy sources can gain traction. That won’t happen if fossil-fuel polluters keep using the atmosphere as a free waste dump. Proceeds from the tax should be rebated to consumers to prevent the kind of political blowback seen elsewhere.
- A recommitment to nuclear power, which generates 20 percent of the nation’s energy without producing greenhouse gases. Federally funded research could lead to smaller, cheaper reactors.
- Remaining in the Paris climate accord. Global warming is a global problem that requires a global solution. It’s a disgrace that Trump is pulling the United States out of the agreement to which almost all the other nations are a party.
- Government-promoted research and development, aimed not just at curbing greenhouse gases but also at adaptation to, and mitigation of, the amount of warming already baked in. The R&D effort should encompass heavy industry and agriculture, two crucial areas that constitute 45 percent of global greenhouse emissions.
Republicans in the White House and Congress are having a grand old time mocking the Green New Deal, and parts of the plan lend themselves to mockery. But the critics owe this and future generations more than scorn; they have an obligation to put better ideas and solutions on the table.
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