Alexandra Tempus has written on climate change, place, and belonging for The Progressive, Orion, The Nation, VICE News, and others. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin.

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The Green New Deal’s Power Comes from the Grassroots

by Alexandra Tempus 05-29-2019
Climate action doesn’t rely on Congress.

Michael George Haddad

SOON AFTER SENATE Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought the resolution for a Green New Deal to a sham procedural vote in March, a clip of its co-sponsor, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, went viral.

“You want to tell people that their concern and their desire for clean air and clean water is elitist? Tell that to the kids in the South Bronx which are suffering from the highest rates of childhood asthma in the country,” Ocasio-Cortez said. “Tell that to the families in Flint whose kids’ blood is ascending in lead levels.”

It was an illuminating statement. The Green New Deal had rapidly emerged on the heels of a report by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that puts the deadline for massive, coordinated action to avoid the worst of climate change at 12 years out. Now is the time for an audacious proposal of the kind climate activists have long pushed for, one that matches the planetary crisis in scale and scope.