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What Is The Green New Deal?

Wikipedia is not perfect. But it is very good. It has a nice page on the Green New Deal (GND) here.

“The Green New Deal (GND) is a proposed stimulus program that aims to address climate change and economic inequality The name refers to the New Deal, a set of social and economic reforms and public works projects undertaken by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in response to the Great Depression. The Green New Deal combines Roosevelt’s economic approach with modern ideas such as renewable energy and resource efficiency.”

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High Speed Rail and the Green New Deal

Governments that try and pick a winning technological solution don’t have a great track record. However, the Green New Deal as advertised calls for one. Why? Well, a number of studies suggest it can save energy–under the right circumstances.

Of course, the source of the electricity powering a high speed train counts. If a high speed train is ultimately getting its energy from a coal powered generating plant, it isn’t much help. And although natural gas would be better, it still emits a lot of CO2. But it would take a lot of wind and solar to push a train down the track. But let’s set that aside for a second.

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The Good Earth and The Green New Deal

One element of the Green New Deal reads, “Working collaboratively with farmers and ranchers in the United States to eliminate pollution and greenhouse gas emissions from the agricultural sector as much as is technologically feasible.”

We’ve only recently begun talking about it, but modern agriculture emits a lot of CO2. About 9% of US emissions stem from agriculture. About half of those emissions are from crop production, 40% from livestock (and are actually as much methane as CO2) and the remaining 10% is attributed to the business of farming–transportation, storage and the like.

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Successful Uses of a Carbon Tax and a Sovereign Wealth Fund

We’re back from a lovely vacation in France and are ready to resume our exploration of the Green New Deal from a practical point of view.

Those who have read earlier posts can be forgiven if they start shaking their heads at the amount of money each individual portion of the GND seems to cost. The Green New Deal will cost a lot of money, although much of it will be obvious investments with an expected and forecast-able return.

But housing half a million homeless and offering tax subsidies for solar panels and electric cars doesn’t come cheap. And that’s just two of the initiatives we’ve discussed.

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The Green New Deal And A Universal Basic Income

The average rent for a one bedroom apartment is $1,405 a month, or $16,860 a year. Twenty percent (20%) of Americans declared income of less than that last year. America does some of the things needed to compensate for that–food stamps, HUD allowances, etc.–but few would argue we are doing enough.

The nature of work is set to change fairly dramatically over the next few decades, with AI, robotics and other forms of automation quite likely to take on the jobs that people are doing now. And although the care and feeding of these new systems will create new jobs, in all likelihood there will be a permanent net loss of positions, especially for lower income workers.

One of the primary premises of The Green New Deal is “Guaranteeing a job with a family-sustaining wage, adequate family and medical leave, paid vacations, and retirement security to all people of the United States.”

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The GND and Solar From The Rest Of Us

We talked earlier about the potential of solar–with 70 million single family homes in this country, that’s a lot of roof space. Of course, there are a lot of homes in regions that are not best fits for solar, but the idea of 70 million rooftops is enough to spark our interest.

Remember that our interest is sparked by potential ways of reducing emissions without much in the way of government investment. This is based on the idea that the current administration is not committed to a Green New Deal, and it’s not guaranteed that the next one will be either.

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The Green New Deal and 100% clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources. Gulp. Phase 1–2021-2030

We have written posts that were shorter than the title of this one. Sorry.

We talked about America’s energy consumption in this earlier post. The U.S. currently consumes about 100 quadrillion British Thermal Units a year. This is not expected to change much over the next few decades. Which is easy for calculations, being one hundred. Of that 100 ‘quads,’ at the moment about 11% is renewable (but this includes hydro-electric power) and a further 9% is nuclear. The rest of our fuel portfolio consists of oil (37% of the total), natural gas (29%) and coal (14%).

It’s a lot of energy–about 15% of all the world’s energy consumption happens here.

Of our current renewable energy, a quarter of it is provided by hydroelectric facilities (25%), 21% by wind, 6% by solar and a whopping 45% by the various types of biomass–waste, biofuels and burning wood.

It’s a tall order–hence the use of the word ‘gulp’ in the title of this post.

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Residential Solar Power And The Green New Deal

20% of all US energy consumption happens at home. While we will need laws and politics (and lots of both) to deal with the other 80%, we as individual can make a real difference. And really, nobody is going to take care of that 20% for us. If it’s going to get done, we’re going to have to do it.

The idyllic solution of course would be solar panels on every roof with a tracking mount to follow the sun, feeding not only the immediate electricity needs of the house below it, but charging the standalone battery that will be used to recharge the electric car when it gets home. And there are a lot of homes that could do this. But not enough, sadly.

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