Access to Nature and the Green New Deal

There are 59 national parks in the U.S. and 8,565 state parks and a lot of local and city parks. The map looks full:

So at first glance, you might wonder why access to nature is part of the Green New Deal. And once again, the answer is equal parts poverty and inequality.

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The Green New Deal: Healthy and Affordable Food

Availability of good food is a problem for the poor in America. It is not a problem for middle class and richer Americans. However Americans of all incomes frequently make poor choices about food.

The Green New Deal proposes to make healthy and affordable food available to all Americans. There are a number of established programs to draw from, ranging from proposed changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which helps get food to poor people, to templates for local planning departments trying to fight food insecurity and hunger.

People have been talking about getting more nutritious food into inner city grocery stores for a generation, though, without much in the way of results. As poverty is just as real and just as pervasive in rural counties, a different approach is warranted.

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Air Quality

One of the goals of the Green New Deal is to provide clean air to all Americans.

Here is a picture of what air quality in America looks like on April 27, 2019:


https://aqicn.org/map/northamerica/

Green is good, yellow bad, red worse and purple just horrible. The picture changes from day to day, of course, but it’s clear that most Americans do enjoy clean air on most days of the year. But as with water pollution (and almost everything else that is bad in our land), air pollution is tougher on the poor and minorities. Not only are they exposed to more of it, they have fewer resources to deal with it.

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Is The 12 Year Target For Zero Emissions A Hard Target?

Let’s talk about time. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) wrote a special report on what will happen if global average temperature rises above 1.5C. They say that if we don’t get to zero emissions by 2050… well let’s let them say it and let’s start with the good-ish news:

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Clean Water, Air, Healthy and Affordable Food, and Nature

In a nod to the environmental movement of the 70s, the Green New Deal has as a goal the delivery of clean water and air, healthy and affordable food and what I presume to mean access to nature.

Again, due to the length of the posts, we will have to deal with these one at a time. Today we’ll talk about clean water.

The Environmental Protection Agency is budgeted at about $8.9 billion a year at present. About 52% of that goes to improving water quality. About half that amount (45%) is in the form of grants to cities and states for specific projects. It could be more.

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Economic Security

The Green New Deal as proposed calls for the provision of economic security for all Americans. And that’s all it says about it. Now we’re in favor of it in the abstract, but we need a definition in order to start on a road map.

The International Committee of the Red Cross defines economic security as “the ability of individuals, households or communities to cover their essential needs sustainably and with dignity. This can vary according to an individual’s physical needs, the environment and prevailing cultural standards. Food, basic shelter, clothing and hygiene qualify as essential needs, as does the related expenditure; the essential assets needed to earn a living, and the costs associated with health care and education also qualify.”

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Affordable, Safe and Adequate Housing

One element of the proposed Green New Deal is ‘affordable, safe and adequate housing.’ Our first post on this subject will concern those who have no homes.

According to┬áthe U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there were roughly 554,000 homeless people living somewhere in the United States on a given night last year. A total of 193,000 of those people were “unsheltered,” meaning that they were living on the streets and had no access to emergency shelters, transitional housing, or Safe Havens.”

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