There are at present 276 million registered vehicles in the United States. About 1 million of them are electric.
If the Green New Deal is to have any chance at achieving the Green part of the New Deal, almost all of this vast fleet of cars, pickups and SUVs will have to be electric by 2030. Is it possible? Yes. Will it be easy? No.
Let’s start with the glass half full. 2018 saw a phenomenal jump in the sales of electric cars–an 81% increase over 2017, which was also a banner year. Put another way, half of all the electric cars in America were sold in the past two years.
To get to 276 million electric vehicles, sales would have to grow at a phenomenal rate–but less than the 81% recorded in 2018. We’d ‘only’ need sales to grow at a 60% rate every year for 12 years. But things are not that simple, obviously.
Should the U.S. decide to pursue the Green New Deal, there are different approaches to take–but although one is probably optimal, we can expect to pursue two parallel tracks at different rates of speed.
One is brute force–we mandate (and probably finance) the environmental aspects of the GND, build out the needed solar and wind power generation, require a changeover to an electric fleet, and use regulation and legislation to push people into desired behaviors. We liken this to ancient Egyptians building the pyramids with slave labor, but then we’re harsh critics at times.
A British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the amount of energy needed to heat a pint of water from 39 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s about the amount of energy consumed by burning a wooden match.
We currently measure energy consumption by counting ‘quads.’ A quad is one quadrillion BTUs. It is about the amount of energy consumed by burning the contents of a train full of coal that has 100 tons of coal in each car. The train would stretch for 3,780 miles, from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Anchorage, Alaska.
A lot has been made in the media about the accelerated schedule of the Green New Deal–the sponsors of the Congressional resolution want us to get there in 12 years.
To us, what’s more interesting is the fusion of progressive economic and social goals with the environmental initiatives to get to zero emissions. And again, in the formative stages of all this, it’s easy to look at it as disconnected. We might even be permitted to speculate that a firm connection did not exist in the minds of the plan’s creators. But we think over the course of this blog’s existence that we will end up showing a very firm connection between the social, the economic and the environmental elements.
Progressives began labeling healthcare a human right about a decade or so before the Green New Deal. Old school opponents were quick to object–how can infrastructure and services painstakingly built up over centuries at great cost to companies and individuals be re-characterized as providing something (healthcare) that their customers (patients) all of a sudden have a right to?
The Green New Deal is a set of goals, not a road map. Not yet. Not in 2019.
It is our intention to show how to get as close as possible to fulfilling the aspirations of those hoping to reduce or eliminate our contributions to climate change.
It is also our hope to outline what individuals, communities, organizations and countries can do to help. It may be our small conceit to have one tip in every blog post.
Although the Green New Deal was launched as an American initiative, human contributions to climate change are of course global. We will try and talk to both the American situation and the global condition.