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Ocasio-Cortez Fires Back at Trump Over Green New Deal

Politics
Ocasio-Cortez Fires Back at Trump Over Green New Deal
U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks during a news conference at the East Front of the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 7. Alex Wong / Getty Images

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's sweeping Green New Deal resolution was never going to be embraced by her Republican foes, but she's taking the criticism in stride—even if the missives come from the very top.

At his El Paso, Texas rally on Monday, President Donald Trump referred to her signature issue as a "high school term paper."


"Last week they introduced a massive government takeover that would destroy our incredible economic gains. They introduced the so-called Green New Deal," the president said in his speech. "It sounds like a high school term paper that got a low mark."

President Trump blasts 'Green New Deal' www.youtube.com

The star Democrat from New York did not back down from the president's remarks.

"Ah yes, a man who can't even read briefings written in full sentences is providing literary criticism of a House Resolution," Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter after retweeting Trump's quote from Breitbart News' Charlie Spiering.

She then included a quote from a Washington Post report about how Trump skips written intelligence reports, which are usually dense and lengthy, and relies on oral briefings instead.

That wasn't the problem the president had with the Green New Deal. Trump falsely claimed in his rally speech that the deal would "shut down" American energy and air travel.

"It would shut down American energy which I don't think the people of Texas are going to be happy with that. It would shut down a little thing called air travel," he said.

He claimed the resolution would "take away your car, reduce the value of your home and put millions of Americans out of work."

Trump's comments are akin to his tweet on Saturday, where he also took a jab at the Green New Deal.

The president was probably referring to a widely circulated FAQ section, in which Ocasio-Cortez's office quipped, "we aren't sure that we'll be able to fully get rid of farting cows and airplanes." But that statement was in reference to bringing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions "to net-zero, rather than zero emissions" within 10 years.

Republican lawmakers and other critics have pounced on what has been called the "botched rollout" of the Green New Deal, which is also sponsored by Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in the Senate. The most prominent issue was language on a Feb. 5 blog post on the congresswoman's website that called for economic security "for all who are unable or unwilling to work." That information has since been retracted.

Despite the naysayers, momentum for climate policy has been growing ever since its was popularized by Ocasio-Cortez as well as the young climate activists of the Sunrise Movement who staged a sit-in inside then-presumed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office not long after the midterm elections to demand a Green New Deal.

Varshini Prakash, founder and executive director of Sunrise Movement, called the resolution "a litmus test for progressive leadership."

As EcoWatch previously wrote, ideas outlined in the proposal include "unprecedented levels of prosperity and economic security" for all citizens and "meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable, and zero-emission energy sources."

The non-binding resolution calls for a wide-ranging mobilization of the U.S. economy and creating jobs through infrastructure and industrial projects, such as zero-emission vehicle infrastructure and manufacturing; installing smart grids; updating or creating buildings that are energy efficient; expanding clean energy jobs (like solar, wind turbine, battery and storage manufacturing); cleaning existing hazardous waste sites; and restoration of damaged and threatened ecosystems.

Along the same lines, the plan includes a significant social justice component because it aims to create millions of family-supporting and union jobs and will help protect disadvantaged communities on the frontlines of pollution and climate change.

Ocasio-Cortez recently retweeted a string of praise for the Green New Deal from presidential contenders, including fellow progressive Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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An illustration depicts the extinct woolly rhino. Heinrich Harder / Wikimedia Commons

The last Ice Age eliminated some giant mammals, like the woolly rhino. Conventional thinking initially attributed their extinction to hunting. While overhunting may have contributed, a new study pinpointed a different reason for the woolly rhinos' extinction: climate change.

The last of the woolly rhinos went extinct in Siberia nearly 14,000 years ago, just when the Earth's climate began changing from its frozen conditions to something warmer, wetter and less favorable to the large land mammal. DNA tests conducted by scientists on 14 well-preserved rhinos point to rapid warming as the culprit, CNN reported.

"Humans are well known to alter their environment and so the assumption is that if it was a large animal it would have been useful to people as food and that must have caused its demise," says Edana Lord, a graduate student at the Center for Paleogenetics in Stockholm, Sweden, and co-first author of the paper, Smithsonian Magazine reported. "But our findings highlight the role of rapid climate change in the woolly rhino's extinction."

The study, published in Current Biology, notes that the rhino population stayed fairly consistent for tens of thousands of years until 18,500 years ago. That means that people and rhinos lived together in Northern Siberia for roughly 13,000 years before rhinos went extinct, Science News reported.

The findings are an ominous harbinger for large species during the current climate crisis. As EcoWatch reported, nearly 1,000 species are expected to go extinct within the next 100 years due to their inability to adapt to a rapidly changing climate. Tigers, eagles and rhinos are especially vulnerable.

The difference between now and the phenomenon 14,000 years ago is that human activity is directly responsible for the current climate crisis.

To figure out the cause of the woolly rhinos' extinction, scientists examined DNA from different rhinos across Siberia. The tissue, bone and hair samples allowed them to deduce the population size and diversity for tens of thousands of years prior to extinction, CNN reported.

Researchers spent years exploring the Siberian permafrost to find enough samples. Then they had to look for pristine genetic material, Smithsonian Magazine reported.

It turns out the wooly rhinos actually thrived as they lived alongside humans.

"It was initially thought that humans appeared in northeastern Siberia fourteen or fifteen thousand years ago, around when the woolly rhinoceros went extinct. But recently, there have been several discoveries of much older human occupation sites, the most famous of which is around thirty thousand years old," senior author Love Dalén, a professor of evolutionary genetics at the Center for Paleogenetics, said in a press release.

"This paper shows that woolly rhino coexisted with people for millennia without any significant impact on their population," Grant Zazula, a paleontologist for Canada's Yukon territory and Simon Fraser University who was not involved in the research, told Smithsonian Magazine. "Then all of a sudden the climate changed and they went extinct."

A large patch of leaked oil and the vessel MV Wakashio near Blue Bay Marine Park off the coast of southeast Mauritius on Aug. 6, 2020. AFP via Getty Images

The environmental disaster that Mauritius is facing is starting to appear as its pristine waters turn black, its fish wash up dead, and its sea birds are unable to take flight, as they are limp under the weight of the fuel covering them. For all the damage to the centuries-old coral that surrounds the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean, scientists are realizing that the damage could have been much worse and there are broad lessons for the shipping industry, according to Al Jazeera.

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A quality engineer examines new solar panels in a factory. alvarez / Getty Images

Transitioning to renewable energy can help reduce global warming, and Jennie Stephens of Northeastern University says it can also drive social change.

For example, she says that locally owned businesses can lead the local clean energy economy and create new jobs in underserved communities.

"We really need to think about … connecting climate and energy with other issues that people wake up every day really worried about," she says, "whether it be jobs, housing, transportation, health and well-being."

To maximize that potential, she says the energy sector must have more women and people of color in positions of influence. Research shows that leadership in the solar industry, for example, is currently dominated by white men.

"I think that a more inclusive, diverse leadership is essential to be able to effectively make these connections," Stephens says. "Diversity is not just about who people are and their identity, but the ideas and the priorities and the approaches and the lens that they bring to the world."

So she says by elevating diverse voices, organizations can better connect the climate benefits of clean energy with social and economic transformation.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

The frozen meat section at a supermarket in Hong Kong, China, in February. Chukrut Budrul / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Imported frozen food in three Chinese cities has tested positive for the new coronavirus, but public health experts say you still shouldn't worry too much about catching the virus from food or packaging.

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Although heat waves rarely get the attention that hurricanes do, they kill far more people per year in the U.S. and abroad. greenaperture / Getty Images

By Jeff Berardelli

Note: This story was originally published on August 6, 2020

If asked to recall a hurricane, odds are you'd immediately invoke memorable names like Sandy, Katrina or Harvey. You'd probably even remember something specific about the impact of the storm. But if asked to recall a heat wave, a vague recollection that it was hot during your last summer vacation may be about as specific as you can get.

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