The latest 20-minute segment on the HBO show Last Week Tonight had host John Oliver discussing the Green New Deal. Well, not discussing, rather ignoring the Green New Deal while praising Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for creating a bill so insane that it created a constant, national conversation about Climate Change (forgetting that the conversation has been occurring for well over a decade).. He then pushed for a politically divisive policy so he can continue his constant and badly motivated attack on Republicans.
Oliver began his analysis of the Green New Deal by displaying how many times it is mentioned, and that it is booed at a Trump rally; ignoring that it’s famous because it’s ridiculous, and that it was booed for the same reason. He claims it’s polarizing because Republican’s won’t stop talking about what “they insist it contains”, dismissing the contents of the resolution. He points out the goals of “achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions”, but completely ignores the parts where we need to begin “overhauling transportation systems” and “upgrading all existing buildings in the United States”. He even has a copy of the 14-page resolution in his hands, but does not read anything but the three sentences that make the Green New Deal seem reasonable, counting on the ignorance of his audience.
He blames Senate Republicans for voting it down, but ignores that Senate Democrats didn’t put their money where their mouth is and vote for it. He peddles the lie that the FAQ that Ocasio-Cortez sent out was an early draft. There has never been an update draft of the FAQ released to the public. He says that the line about “getting rid of farting cows and airplanes” was “clearly a joke”, but ignores the obviously serious statement of providing “economic security” to people who are “unwilling to work”. That’s not the worst thing he did though, all of that is par for the course. The worst thing he did was mention ELEVEN ideas for tackling Climate Change, ignored those completely, and then spent 10 minutes talking about a Carbon Tax.
Carbon Taxes and Cap and Trade Legislation are not new. There are decades of history and evidence about their effectiveness. The Institute for Energy Research published an 18-page paper entitle “The Case Against A Carbon Tax”. The summary of the paper is that since the United States is already leading in reducing carbon emissions, a Carbon Tax would only hurt the economy. It also mentions that Carbon Taxes are set arbitrarily, thus limiting their effectiveness in reducing carbon emissions, rather being used as a political tool for the government to crack down on industries it doesn’t like.
When pushing for a Carbon Tax, Oliver ignores multiple facts. First, the ones who pay the carbon tax increase the prices of the goods they are selling, and the increased prices always affect most those who can afford it least. This tax, which is intended for large corporations, is effectively a tax on the consumer; with the middle class and poor feeling the brunt of it. Second, the reductions in England that he lauded were not due to Carbon Taxes, as he claimed, rather multiple factors. According to the very same report he citied, the emissions were steady from 1983 until 2008, when they dropped sharply. However, the UK has had fuel and carbon taxes since 1993. Third, Carbon Taxes in both the United Kingdom and France have led to massive protests and civil unrest due to the economic hardship it places on the working class. None of that is relevant to the fact that he is telling his audience that if you don’t push for the same solutions he does, you don’t care about the problem. Bill Nye (not a “science guy”) does a short clip that says as much. “Grow the f*** up”, he says, next to a burning globe and saying that there are a lot of solutions, and they are not free.
John Oliver’s defense of the Green New Deal and it’s costly and ineffective ideas is endemic of a broader problem on the left; if you disagree with my solution, you disregard the problem. He completely disregards the argument from the right, which questions the solutions, seeks to make a greater business environment for technological innovation, and pushes for tangible and effective results.
Imagine if the right turned the tables on this debate. If the left argues against nuclear power, they don’t care about climate change. If the left writes long articles about the cost of pulling carbon from the air (the technology that recently had a major breakthrough), they don’t care about climate change. If the left disregards the economic reports that the cost of the Green New Deal will cripple the economy while not reducing emissions, they don’t care about climate change.
It is incredibly easy to dismiss your opponent by calling their intent into question. If the left truly cared about climate change, they would be open to working towards other solutions. Climate Change and the Green New Deal is just a thinly veiled attempt to enact their broader political agenda, turning the country into a socialist state. But if anyone says that, they must not care about Climate Change.
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