Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Sound a Planetary Alarm on Climate Change
December 6, 2018 Naomi Klein / The Intercept & Jason Murdock / Newsweek
The bold moral leadership of newly elected members of Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has me feeling more optimistic about our collective chances of averting climate breakdown than I have in years. But a whole lot of things need to happen very quickly if the political tide is going to shift in time -- including finding new ways to engage the public in this fight.
My Interview With Bernie Sanders on Climate Change Naomi Klein / The Intercept
(December 4, 2018) -- The bold moral leadership of newly elected members of Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has me feeling more optimistic about our collective chances of averting climate breakdown than I have in years. But a whole lot of things need to happen very quickly if the political tide is going to shift in time -- including finding new ways to engage the public in this fight.
In this hopeful moment, I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the few politicians who has consistently focused on this issue -- Sen. Bernie Sanders -- at the Sanders Institute Gathering in Burlington, Vermont.
On December 3, Sanders hosted a town hall on climate change with guests, including Ocasio-Cortez, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, activist and "Big Little Lies" star Shailene Woodley, climate scientist Brenda Ekwurzel, activist and musician Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, and Mayor Dale Ross of deep-red Georgetown, Texas. The event was streamed live in partnership with progressive media outlets, including The Intercept.
(December 4, 2018) -- Congresswoman-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appeared on a climate change panel beside Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday, saying the battle for progress needs be on the scale of the civil rights movement and hitting out against the stance of President Trump.
Ocasio-Cortez, a rising star in the Democratic Party who defeated Anthony Pappas in the November 6 election, spoke passionately about the need for sustainable energy. When asked by Sanders if the Trump administration's opposing position on energy was right, the politician laughed.
"It is unsurprising that the response to any bold proposal that we have is to incite fear," Ocasio-Cortez said. "To incite fear of loss, to incite fear of others to incite fear of our future. But the only way we are going to get out of this situation is by choosing to be courageous."
The economic position of the Trump administration has long favoured gas, oil, and shale. "It will be American hands that remake this country, and it will be American energy -- mined from American resources -- that powers this country," Trump said as candidate back in 2016.
And in recent months, the president has doubled down on his doubts about climate change. In November, he rejected the findings of a major report on the matter that warned the economic effects could be devastating to the country. "I don't believe it," the president hit back.
The New York Times reported in 2016 Trump's plan was "more fossil fuels and fewer rules." At the G20 this week, he declined to sign a statement on climate change with other nations.
Ocasio-Cortez said the position of the Trump administration and some fossil fuel economists that only fossil fuels can power a successful US economy was "plain wrong."
The congresswoman-elect elaborated: "It's not just possible that we will create jobs and economic activity by transitioning to renewable energy but it is inevitable.
"It's inevitable that we can use the transition to 100 percent renewable energy as the vehicle to truly deliver and establish economic, social and racial justice in the United States of America."
She added: "This is going to be the great society. The moon shot, the civil rights movement of our generation. That is the scale of the ambition that this movement is going to require."
The town hall -- chaired by Sanders and streamed online -- was set up to "explore solutions that can protect the planet from devastation and create tens of millions of good-paying jobs." The panel meeting also featured CNN host/author Van Jones and actor/activist Shailene Woodley.
Speakers were raising awareness and support for the Green New Deal -- which hopes to establish a committee and pursue laws to "promote economic and environmental justice and equality."
Ocasio-Cortez, who is set to become the youngest woman to serve in the US Congress in history, said there is more to gain from moving towards renewable energy than jobs.
"It's important to also talk about the fact this is not just an economic solution," she said. "This is the mechanism through which we can really deliver justice to communities that have been under served. This water in Flint is still dirty. The water in Flint is still dirty.
"We have got children that are choking on the smoke in California. Children in Puerto Rico are choking on the fungal spores because we have not recuperated from the crisis and mold from the floods is taking up these people's homes. We have injustices in this country.
"Those injustices are concentrated in frontline communities -- indigenous, black and brown communities -- they are the ones that experience the greatest depths of this injustice.
"If we . . . had the moral, political and economic courage to say 'we are going to fix all the pipes in Flint' we would put a lot of people to work at the same time. And that is what this is about."
On Twitter, Ocasio-Cortez supporters were out in force following her appearance in the town hall this week. One person wrote: "Thank you, Alexandria, for fighting so hard for average and vulnerable Americans, and for your blunt honesty on all things Washington."
Another added under the video: "This was amazing BTW! AOC is a real life Wonder Woman!"
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