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The Green New Deal’s Research & Development Provides National Security Solutions Image courtesy of Pexels

The Green New Deal’s Research & Development Provides National Security Solutions

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Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey’s Green New Deal (GND) is the first proposal of its kind designed to catalyze social, economic, and environmental reformation on a national level. Inspired by the grim outlook detailed in the scientific climate assessment reports published by both the U.N. and U.S., the document does not contain any specific policy suggestions or ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; but if passed, the corresponding policies would be precedent-setting for our nation.

The principles within the GND include upgrading infrastructure efficiency to meet resilience and sustainability standards; a carbon-free energy economy transition within ten years; overhaul of the transportation sector; equitable economic growth; public investments in research and development of clean technologies; promoting international exchange of technology and expertise and ensuring protection for front-line communities.

This extreme economic transition is daunting but necessary. Despite advancements in renewable energy, the technology needed to achieve these goals are either very young or do not exist. However, one tenet within the GND provides multiple resolutions that could remedy our economic and national security concerns.

The passing of the GND is the requisite green light to incite mass public and private investment in research and development of green technology for every economic sector. The creation of new and existing agencies like the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy are racing to be the first to deliver efficient, sustainable, and environmentally conscious solutions to the country. Some of the innovations considered should include mechanisms within the agriculture sector that produce more with less; electrification of the transportation sector using sustainable energy sources, water desalination and storage technologies, and batteries that can store substantial amounts of renewable energy. Competing countries like China, Russia, and Germany will create their own prototypes inspired by our design, thereby forming a competitive global market for green sustainable technology. As the market grows, the prices of these technologies will decline — just as solar has done, making clean technology cost competitive.

National security is about managing risks, and the GND’s agenda provides the opportunity to do so both domestically and abroad. The humanitarian gesture of sharing our agriculture and water storage and purification technologies with nations that have fragile social-systems due to crop instability can prevent climate-related migration. Electric vehicles could lower unnecessary casualties while limiting air pollution. Sustainable distributive energy sources can resolve energy insecurity and vulnerability issues domestic and abroad. Early-warning systems that detect extreme weather events can aid in contingency planning and response. Dynamic afforestation and sequestration technologies can assist in removing the carbon from our atmosphere, directly addressing the source of our warming planet. Innovative resilient design will fortify our infrastructure, providing protection from rising coastlines and storm surges.

Bases like Norfolk and Parris Island are expected to be hit the hardest from sea-level rise, a consequence that even with stringent emissions reductions by tomorrow, will not stop rising waters. Therefore, sustainability pathways should be locked into every blueprint of development to ensure that resources are utilized efficiently. This promotes conservation, mitigation and most importantly, national security.

That being said, it’s imperative that the GND’s federal aims incentivize its agenda and allow states to develop their own command-and-control policies and results-based market-mechanisms tailored to their economic demographics. A cyclical ratcheting-system must be included within the policy framework in order to meet the stringent 10-year deadline stated within the mandate.

GND advocates refer to the bank bail-out of 2008, the Apollo mission and World War II as examples of how the government is capable of finding a way to fund real national emergencies. It is imperative that the financial sources for this transition come from putting a price on the externalities from those industries that adversely affect environmental integrity, not federal institutions and programs that provide aid and security. It’s not a question of if we can afford climate adaptation and mitigation development — we cannot afford not to.

Since the mandate lacks legal power, a formal legislative proposal would soon follow if it passes. If anything, the GND has sparked a national conversation about the condition of our economy and its ability to withstand the cascading impacts that come with climate change, inciting contemplation about what doing nothing could mean for our nation’s security and economic future.

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