Last Word: A green planet will cost some green

Taylor Baker, BU Democrats

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“When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.” -Alanis Obomsawin

It is my firm belief that no other quotation, sentence, narrative, or description could better encapsulate the thoughts going through my mind when I read the conservative response to the Green New Deal.

Whether it’s being dictated on the deplorable pages of right-wing pundit sites like Breitbart or exclaimed from the smiling faces at “fair and balanced” Fox News, the objection to a call for environmental safety, economic security, and American energy independence can be summed up into one sentence often repeated by those stricken with the horrible throes of wealth and affluence: “What About My Money?”

We live like kings in America, almost every single one of us. The houses we live in, the water and power we consume, the plastics we sometimes forget to throw in the recycling bin. All of these luxuries are almost exclusively first world in nature, the cause of climate change is first world in nature.
It’s frustrating to go back, enraging to go back, impossible to go back. That’s what’s being echoed across America and the rest of the first world: “We cannot go back to the savage practice of conserving our wealth and resources on behalf of all the people on this world that we have single-handedly doomed.”

Last week’s First Word could not have exemplified this sickening mentality better, the same fervent manta given whenever we address issues like climate change, gun control, oil dependency, and widespread poverty. We cannot be “undercutting American business” with “massive amount of government spending”.

American business would not need to be undercut, the government would not have to spend money if the world as we know it wouldn’t be facing its absolute destruction at the hands of poisoned water, poisoned air, rising sea levels and changing climates.     

We would not have to undercut business with government spending if the first world economy wasn’t based on and profiting off the out-of-sight out-of-mind destruction of the global ecosystem.

We can sit here and debate the costs of change while the literal and figurative rising tides of climate change rise to our necks, threatening to drown us and the world we live in.

We can approach the corporate, poverty stricken post-destruction feudal dystopias we see in movies and television, “Blade Runner” and Netflix’s “Altered Carbon” come to mind. We can care about the stock dividends that a small percentage of us profit off of at the expense of the air we all hold dear.

Perhaps avoiding mass extinction and ecological collapse, securing American energy independence with renewable resources, and providing a job for every American while making sure that job pays a living wage is for, and I quote from last week’s First Word, “Democrats in fantasy land”.
Still, I look forward to telling my children that although they may have to live in a world with graying air and grayer waters, a world without whales, lions, tigers and bears, a desolate world, that I was a part of the good fight. I was the part of the American, nay, the world populace that saw a Green New Deal as not only necessary, but mandatory.

Taylor Baker is a freshman Political Science and Chinese major, President of the Bloomsburg University Democrats and President of the Pennsylvania Forensics Student Association.