We were reading The Washington Post energy newsletter recently when we were arrested by this: “Sunrise Movement to score 2020 candidates on Green New Deal – and yes, tweets count.”
The Sunrise Movement was formed in 2017 to elect socialist proponents of renewable energy, such as Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York, Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, and Ilhan Omar from Minnesota.
Ocasio-Cortez co-sponsored the Green New Deal resolution with Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts in February. But just a week after the 2018 midterm elections, Sunrise organized young people to occupy the office of incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, joined by Ocasio-Cortez. They had a list of Green New Deal demands, even though no one had seen a Green New Deal yet. Fifty-one activists were arrested and removed by Capitol Police, although not Ocasio-Cortez, who ducked out.
In February, Sunrise took a new tack and sent children to occupy the office of Dianne Feinstein, the 86-year-old Democratic senator from California, demanding that she endorse the just-unrolled Green New Deal.
Feinstein told them it was unworkable. The children looked lost. One of their teen handlers asked Feinstein for an internship. Sunrise’s executive director later said the interaction proved the Democratic Party needs fundamental change – which, actuarially, seems likely to occur in any case.
The idea of a children’s crusade to save the climate got new life when Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swede, crossed the Atlantic on a solar-powered racing yacht late this summer to plead for reduced emissions. When she testified on Capitol Hill in September, hardly anyone noticed her criticism of the Green New Deal.
“The problem we are facing is not that we lack the ability to dream,” Thunberg told the U.S. lawmakers. “It’s time to face the reality, the facts, the science. And the science doesn’t mainly speak of ‘great opportunities to create the society we always wanted.’ It tells of unspoken human sufferings, which will get worse and worse the longer we delay action ... This is not primarily an opportunity to create new green jobs, new businesses or green economic growth.”
The lawmakers could not help patronizing her.
“How can we get more kids involved in this issue?” Rep. Ben Luján, the Democrat from New Mexico, asked.
“Just tell them the truth,” Thunberg said.
Recently, the Nobel winners in chemistry were announced – three scientists who pioneered lithium-ion batteries, including John B. Goodenough, a 97-year-old professor of engineering at the University of Texas at Austin, who was recognized for work he did in the 1970s.
Goodenough is the oldest recipient of a Nobel.
Two days later, Thunberg was given good odds of winning the Nobel Peace Prize but was beaten out by Ethiopia’s peace-making prime minister.
That day, Jane Fonda, the 81-year-old actress, was arrested in Washington on the Capitol steps for protesting climate change while touting the Green New Deal.
Also that day, Thunberg addressed a noontime rally in Denver, calling on other young people to fight climate change and chastising adults for not doing enough.
“We are here because we care about the future, about what we one day will leave after us,” Thunberg told a crowd at Denver’s Civic Center Park. “And the political leaders can’t seem to think beyond the next election.”
We were going to say there is a place in this world for the rare Joan of Arcs, like Thunberg, a no-nonsense figurehead on a sun-powered ship, but like earthquakes and volcanoes, they make room for themselves.
There are many places for scientists like Goodenough, who beaver away in obscurity for decades perfecting technologies that allow us to store more power, a crucial component of any conversion to renewable energy in order to fight climate change. We need rafts of them.
Is there also a place for idealistic young people and some older ones, tallying tweets to handicap the Democratic presidential primaries, looking for shibboleths of Green New Deal orthodoxy? If it keeps them out of more trouble, we suppose so.