Defending the Green New Deal: Recommendations to Build on What’s Actually in it While Reaching Out to Others

“You can have the Green New Deal and your hamburger, too” —Embriette Hyde, Writer, SynBioBeta, & Luisa Schetinger, Photographer, Unsplash

“Some men see things as they are, and ask why. I dream of things that never were, and ask why not.”

—Robert F. Kennedy

By Matt Polsky, Jillian Connelly, Candace Barr, Jazmine Garcia, Dillon Negrao, Dana Ogden, Zachary Potter, Matthew Wojciechowski, Brian Woodward, Andrew Wortman, Margaret Cawley, Mary Dragone

An open letter to:

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
229 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez:

For the course I teach at Ramapo College in Mahwah, New Jersey, Economics, Ecology, & Ethics, we studied the Green New Deal in the last third of the spring semester. We read and discussed articles and viewed videos about it, featuring both its fans and critics. This was after we had explored the course theme: how do we best put economics and the environment together, pulling in equity issues, while learning to identify economics ideas inconsistent with sustainability.

We find that your Resolution already is doing much that is right and is unusually admirable. It is extremely bold, because, as you have pointed out, it has to be to deal with the problem of climate change. It also boldly integrates economic and social issues with it. It is blunt. Its approach is unusual and very challenging, but consistent with tenets of the sustainability field that it invokes.

Much of this, though, has bought the Resolution a lot of criticism, both fairly and unfairly.

The eleven students and I aim to provide ideas to you, your staff and advisors that would build on its strengths, while providing responses to some of the criticisms. For example, as the Resolution has been criticized as “light on details,” this report provides more of these.

In any group report it is best not to assume that all contributors agree wholeheartedly with every point or recommendation, although no one expressed any reservations to anything in the report itself. As this was largely the students’ report, while I guided their exploration, for the most part I went with their views. The nuclear one was tricky. I concurred with it, partially because of the stakes, and the power of their arguments and those of some guest speakers we had. But I want to point out the necessity of the associated conditions with that recommendation discussed there for reluctantly “coming out” on the “pro-nuke” side. Another is the hope that the “new nuclear technologies” advocates cite really does result in less waste and potential for proliferation of plutonium, although I’m still not persuaded that the argument “nuclear waste is a political problem, not a technical one” gets us anywhere. But—still—as climate change is one of the biggest challenges for the next generation… there is that compelling “carbon-free” argument.

Continue reading “Defending the Green New Deal: Recommendations to Build on What’s Actually in it While Reaching Out to Others”

New Jersey Now “Gets” Climate Change. What We Are Still Missing: Why We’re Not Talking About What We’re Not Talking About: Part 4

By Matt Polsky

Image result for pie of knowledge image

Image by Claire Bryden[1]

Introduction and Importance

Why are we not talking about the things we don’t usually talk about that need to be involving climate change? Why is it so hard to talk about or hear certain things like a carbon tax, a zero carbon emissions goal, or the many other steps we can or may have to take to address this immense problem, or it’s taking decades which we no longer have?

Mindset barriers or traps are a big part of the reason. They overlap to various degrees with many other concepts, such as world view, mental models, obsolete paradigms, cognitive biases, cognitive sticking points, blind spots or blinders, myths, ideology, stories, narratives, unquestioned assumptions, dogma, mantras, emotionalism, faith, group think, and certitudes. Some of these can have a positive or neutral side, or are necessary in some way.

We also can include unquestioned beliefs about business-as-usual practices—and not just in business, or “that’s just the way it is” shrugs. In certain contexts we can add references to someone’s “mentality,” “psychology,” “temperament,” or “the way the person is wired.” There are also language, framing, and communications issues.

Continue reading “New Jersey Now “Gets” Climate Change. What We Are Still Missing: Why We’re Not Talking About What We’re Not Talking About: Part 4”

Fellow ISErs!

Yet another one from me on a Green Economy for New Jersey. I’m really testing that famous definition of insanity about failing, failing, failing at the same thing and still expecting different results. But after this maybe 16th attempt, I think that will be it on this topic.

Anyway, a few things about it.

  1. The first part of it is largely my class’ product. But that also catalyzed me to then go beyond it with what I had to say in the second part
  2. Well, I had a lot, some 40 years’ worth of ideas and experience, which is why it is so long—as well as because I think it is important and hope it is useful to someone someday
  3. This is my third “legacy-type” offering, both on New Jersey and not. The first two were “A Look at Sustainable Development in New Jersey: How Have We Done & What Are the Opportunities– If We Want Them?,” a history of the Ups and Downs of Sustainability in New Jersey; and “On 40 Years Watching the Sustainable Business Field,” on where I think the sustainable business field needs to go. I fear I have a fourth in me if I can find the time, energy, and spirit—and/or if I can find a co-writer late summer willing to write every odd-numbered draft. It would be on “Now that New Jersey is Interested in Climate Change—Finally, what are we still missing?” I’d really like to finish getting these 40-year things off my plate so I can focus outside of New Jersey on global things, especially transformational (big societal) change (the subject of my Ph.D. research). Not that New Jersey will ever be totally out of my watching
  4. As this document is so long, I wanted to point out both the students’ section, and mine, have separate Tables of Contents. Both have Executive Summaries, Intros, Conclusions, and Recommendations. So you can read a bit here and there!
  5. Both the students’ section, and mine, summarize a number of relevant historical reports, etc. You may find some familiar ones there
  6. Beyond the green economy topic, you might find a more meta-topic interesting. In my section, there’s a unit on “Mindset Barriers.” These are, in my view, quiet attitudinal and communications obstacles, not just to the green economy, but to other new ideas. This one I may re-use in my thesis research.

Feel free to let me know what you think.

Hope you all have restful summers.

Matt