Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary throw in the Orange Bowl in 1984 is remembered by some sports fans. Boston College was down by 4 points and a field goal was not an option as the throw was an act of desperation. The 55 Flood Tip play was called by Flutie because it sent three receivers straight down the field in the hopes that one of them would tip the ball in their favor. This isn’t a perfect metaphor for our current climate situation, but the idea of a Hail Mary play should be familiar to American audiences.
Fiscal conservatives will cringe at the thought of more taxes, more debt, more spending, and more government, as Progressives and liberals will celebrate these new programs. The reality of climate change requires our attention, our time, our dollars, and that of future generations as well. It isn’t cheap to maintain the planet. A lot of work is done by individuals, local governments, state governments, corporations, and non-governmental organizations. We have a time constraint and need federal involvement in a big way.
There are only a few options moving forward in the context of climate change. Nothing is the first option. It would be the same as Doug Flutie taking a knee without even attempting to move the ball. The second option is to simply invest in climate adaptation and not address the challenge of addressing climate change. This option would be the same as Doug Flutie calling a run play in the final seconds of the game, accepting the loss, but finishing out the game respectfully. The most exciting option is to throw the Hail Mary. The Green New Deal is about the environment. A set of programs that are funded by the federal government drive our carbon emissions to net zero.
It is time for Americans to rally behind a Green New Deal because of the results of the 2020 Presidential Election. Green New Deal programs should not be seen as a single piece of legislation or a single bill being advocated for. Green New Deal programs are just one of many initiatives that will continue until we reach a net zero emission economy. Over the next 50 years, we are going to develop countless programs and initiatives designed to address climate change and reduce our carbon footprint to net zero. We will have to maintain it after we achieve a net zero carbon footprint economy. Many of the programs and initiatives will exist forever, and even more will have to be created in order to maintain the promise of a sustainable future.
Climate change makes it impossible to be fiscally conservative. If it is possible for America toelect a fiscally conservative Congress in the future, then it is necessary for the new Congress and Administration to make any future Congress irrelevant in the fight to address climate change. In 4 to 8 years, America might vote for a fiscal conservative that de-prioritizes addressing climate change because the political pendulum in the United States will swing back and forth. It makes sense to invest in Green New Deal programs now if that is the future. Imagine spending 4 to 8 years passing legislation and investing modest amounts of money in emissions reductions, and then shifting to fiscal conservative control of Congress and the White House in the year 2028, having only made small emissions reductions.
We don’t have the luxury of going back and forth anymore. The long term impacts of the American political pendulum are not something the planet can handle. The pursuit of a sustainable future must be permanent and disconnected from politics. We need a Hail Mary play, not to win, but to stay in the fight against climate change. We need that Hail Mary play to work and we need some other things to work. One receiver was not sent down field by Doug Flutie. He sent three more. We need to develop and deploy hundreds of programs and initiatives that address climate change, and send them off into the future with enough funding.