There is wonderful video titled A Message From the Future with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez which does a great job of broadly encapsulating my overarching political vision. She gets so much right it is scary! Please take the time to watch and to carefully consider it:
My only complaint with the video is that we have known about climate change since the early 1900’s – I think it was 1912 when it was first brought to light.
Following watching this video I find more use in a Federal Jobs Guarantee (FJG), so I think I will be adding this to my policy page. Speaking of which:
My policies Transforming Humanity: The Interstellar New Deal contain these steps and many, many more to help prepare us and to move us towards that transition point to setting Humanity free.
Ahh, the bullet train from New York to D.C. It always brings me back to when I first started making this commute. In 2019, I was a freshman in the most diverse Congress in history — up to that point. It was a critical time. I’ll never forget the children in our community. They were so inspired to see this new class of politicians who reflected them navigating the halls of power. It’s often said, “You can’t be what you can’t see,” and for the first time, they saw themselves.
I think there was something similar with the Green New Deal. We knew that we needed to save the planet, and that we had all the technology to do it. But people were scared. They said it was too big, too fast, not practical. I think that’s because they just couldn’t picture it yet. Anyways, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start with how we got here.
Climate Change History
1977, New York. A senior scientist named James Black made a presentation about how burning fossil fuels could eventually lead to global temperatures rising 4 or 5 degrees Fahrenheit. Within two years, one of the world’s biggest super tankers was outfitted with a state-of-the-art lab to measure CO2 in the ocean, gathering more data about global warming. Guess who was doing all of this research. Exxon Mobil, the oil and gas company. Oh yeah, Exxon knew this whole time, as did our politicians.
Ten years later, James Hansen, NASA’s top climate scientist, told Congress he was 99 percent certain that global warming was happening and caused by humans. That was 1988, the year before I was even born. So, did Exxon listen to the science, including their own? Did they change business models, invest in renewables? No. The opposite. They knew and they doubled down.
They and others spent millions setting up a network of lobby groups and think tanks to create doubt and denial about climate change. It was an effort designed to attack and dispute the very kind of science they themselves had been doing — and it worked. Politicians went to bat for fossil fuels and these massive corporations kept digging and mining drilling and fracking like there was no tomorrow. America became the biggest producer and consumer of oil in the world. Fossil fuel companies made hundreds of billions while the public paid the lion’s share to clean up their disasters. We lost a generation of time we’ll never get back, entire species we’ll never get back, natural wonders gone forever. And in 2017, Hurricane Maria destroyed the place where my family was from: Puerto Rico. It was like a climate bomb. It took as many American lives as 9/11.
And in the next year, when I was elected to Congress, the world’s leading climate scientists declared another emergency.They told us that we had 12 years left to cut our emissions in half or hundreds of millions of people would be more likely to face food and water shortages, poverty, and death. Twelve years to change everything: How we got around, how we fed ourselves, how we made our stuff, how we lived and worked. Everything. The only way to do it was to transform our economy, which we already knew was broken since the vast majority of wealth was going to just a small handful of people, and most folks were falling further and further behind.
We Can Be what We Can see
It was a true turning point. Lots of people gave up. They said we were doomed. But some of us remembered that as a nation, we’d been in peril before. The Great Depression, World War II. We knew from our history how to pull together to overcome impossible odds. And at the very least, we owed it to our children to try.
The wave began when Democrats took back the House in 2018 — and then the Senate and the White House in 2020 — and launched the decade of the Green New Deal, a flurry of legislation that kicked off our social and ecological transformation to save the planet. It was the kind of swing-for-the-fence ambition we needed. Finally we were entertaining solutions on the scale of the crises we faced without leaving anyone behind. That included Medicare for All, the most popular social program in American history. We also introduced the federal jobs guarantee, a public option including dignified living wages for work.
Funnily enough the biggest problem in those early years was a labor shortage. We were building a national smart grid, retrofitting every building in America, putting trains like this one all across the country. We needed more workers.
That group of kids from my neighborhood were right in the middle of it all, especially this one girl, Ileana. Her first job out of college was with AmeriCorps Climate, restoring wetlands and bayous in coastal Louisiana. Most of her friends were in her union, including some oil workers in transition. They took apart old pipelines and got to work planting mangroves with the same salary and benefits. Of course when it came to healing the land, we had huge gaps in our knowledge. Luckily Indigenous communities offered generational expertise to help guide the way.
Ileana got restless, tried her hand as a solar plant engineer for a while but eventually made her career in raising the next generation as part of the universal child care initiative. As it turns out, caring for others is valuable, low-carbon work, and we started paying real money to folks like teachers, domestic workers, and home health aides. Those were years of massive change and not all of it was good.
When hurricane Sheldon hit southern Florida, parts of Miami went underwater for the last time. But as we battled the floods, fires, and droughts we knew how lucky we were to have started acting when we did. And we didn’t just change the infrastructure, we changed how we did things.
We became a society that was not only modern and wealthy, but dignified and humane too. By committing to universal rights like health care and meaningful work for all, we stop being so scared of the future — we stopped being scared of each other — and we found our shared purpose.
Ileana heard the call too, and in 2028, she ran for office in the first cycle of publicly funded election campaigns and now she occupies the seat that I once held. I couldn’t be more proud of her — a true child of the Green New Deal. When I think back to my first term in Congress, riding that old-school Amtrak in 2019, all of this was still ahead of us.
And the first big step was just closing our eyes and imagining it. We can be whatever we have the courage to see.