Progressive journalist and activist Naomi Klein urged sweeping change that tackles the climate crisis, capitalism, racism and economic inequality in tandem on Friday in Burlington, Vt. If that seems challenging, add the fact that the clock is ticking and there might not be another chance.
“We need to have started yesterday,” Klein said at the three-day Sanders Institute Gathering on a panel moderated by environmental activist Bill McKibben. “What all of us who follow the science know is that we just can’t lose these four years,” she said, referring to the presidency of climate change denier Donald Trump. The conference, organized by the think tank founded by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ wife, Jane, is aimed at forming bold progressive agendas for the future.
Progressives are looking to incoming Democratic New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for leadership as she galvanizes a grassroots effort by the youth-led climate change group Sunrise Movement to reduce fossil fuel dependence. Eighteen members of Congress support the idea of creating a House select committee to look at making a realistic plan by January 2020.
“This is not just about a Green New Deal, this is about a New Deal for the United States of America,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a press conference in Washington, D.C., on Friday. “Because in every moment when our country has reached the depths of darkness, in every moment when we were at the brink, at the cusp of an abyss and we did not know if we would be capable of saving ourselves, we have.”
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) recent report outlined what Klein called “a terrifying 12 years” to cut fossil fuel use nearly in half by 2030.
The climate crisis is embedded in nearly every aspect of the issues you see on the front page of the newspaper, but it is rarely framed that way. Mass migration is often fueled by climate instability and food insecurity, while experts predict rising sea levels will leave even more people unrooted in the future. Politicians who take campaign donations from oil and gas companies are more likely to push policies that support them. The sweeping military-industrial complex has a dependence on fossil fuels.