Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal is a conversation between linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky and economist Robert Pollin about the threat of global warming, the steps we can take to prevent catastrophes, and the social issues that need to be considered in the process. The climate crisis is truly existential, and individuals alive now will determine the fate of generations not yet born. Still, individuals, corporations, and states do too little – if anything – to ensure that our planet stays inhabitable to humanity and thousands of other species.
“The environmental crisis, along with its twin nuclear crisis, is unique in human history, and is a truly existential crisis. Those alive today will determine the fate of humanity – and the fate of other species that we are now destroying at a rate not seen for 65 million years, when a huge asteroid hit the earth, ending the age of the dinosaurs and opening the way for some small mammals to evolve to become finally the asteroid’s clone, differing from its predecessor in that it can make a choice.”
Reports from the IPCC make it abundantly clear that we drastically need to change the way we live, move, eat, and produce to avert the worst of global warming’s consequences. What Pollin tries to offer is a set of policies that are entirely realistic and could get humanity on track to reach net zero by 2050, while facilitating improved conditions for workers in precarious job markets. These policies include a carbon tax, with most of the resulting revenues rebated to the public; a budgetary shift of priorities with funds transferred away from military budgets to be invested into the development of cleaner technologies; and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies. The question is not whether it is achievable, it is whether the political will exists to make it happen. With the deal discussed, Chomsky and Pollin aim not only at averting climate catastrophe but at raising living standards and fighting poverty, to ensure for a just transition.
The result of their conversation is an engaging book which is both hopeful and terrifying. Pollin’s economic analysis and political suggestions seem nuanced and realistic, though certainly ambitious. Chomsky add social concerns into the debate and challenges today’s political leaders in their refusal to act decisively. Climate Crisis and the Global Green New Deal is informative for those who have understood that we are in trouble and want to start learning about the steps we need to take next. Much of what is included in their proposals seems convincing, though I do not share all of their conclusions, particularly regarding the future of the way we organise our economy. Nevertheless, all the points raised inspire important conversations that we all need to engage in more. At least as an emergency tool for the immediate future to ward off the worst effects of climate change, the Global Green New Deal is a convincing solution.