The President has embarked on what is being called “The Green New Deal”. Here are some of the pluses and minuses that I see.
In my opinion that these changes were happening anyway because “green technologies” are getting less expensive and fossil fuels which are already losing the grip that they once had. Add to that fact, there are $20 billion in subsidies for coal, oil, and gas and we can see where this is going. Remove those subsidies and green power wins.
On the negative side of this equation is that there will be a major disruption in the employment of a relatively large number of workers if we move fast, but on the other hand moving slowly will not cut it. We are drowning in our air pollution.
We will need to allocate a lot of financial resources to training young people and retraining older people. Years ago, we had a furniture company in Northern Vermont called Ethan Allen. Ethan Allen picked up stakes and moved to China. We did have a retraining program, but it clearly was not enough. This time we need a plan that addresses our new needs specifically. We need a plan that foresees the disruption and precludes most of the fear of loss associated with the changes.
President Biden stated that we have an enormous fleet of vehicles. If we make all those replacement vehicles electric, as he has promised, we will employ one million people in that transition. Most of these vehicles are automobiles and postal delivery wagons. These vehicles usually travel less than 40 miles per day. Recharging these batteries overnight will enhance electric utilities plant use, making them more profitable. That in turn may create demand for modern power plants which will create even more jobs.
Then there is the rebirth of rail travel which will certainly employ electric trains, but unlike the European models America will not be using overhead feeders. These overhead feed systems are called catenaries. Catenaries are vulnerable to wear and pose hazards of their own. Our systems will have electric coils embedded in concrete guideways and will not be vulnerable to wind and weather. That technology is known as MAGLEV. If we commit to rebuilding our rail system with Maglev, the dream that was championed by Senator Moynihan will become a reality.
In addition, this high-speed rail system will preclude much of the use of airplanes for distances less than 1000 miles. Presently airplanes are responsible for 4% of carbon emissions in the atmosphere. That does not seem to be a lot, but high-altitude carbon pollution tends to remain in the stratosphere a long time.
It is not as if the President is dreaming of a “Brave New World’, we are there. We are at the precipice. There is nothing in this essay for which the technology does not exist.
There is nothing left to the story but just to do it.