Ike McCorkle believes in science and accepts the scientific consensus that climate change is real and driven in large part by the CO2 emissions of our outmoded and unsustainable energy infrastructure. He will support Green New Deal efforts such as those being championed by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Sanders.
Climate change is the ultimate global issue and to tackle it we will need to have a global perspective. By the year 2050 the World’s population will have grown to over 10 billion people. If the majority of those people are to live fulfilling lives, free of the crushing burdens of poverty then we will have to find new modes of economic growth that enable human development without diminishing or damaging the biosphere.
We will have transition away from the archaic, 19th century technology of fossil fuel-based energy systems and towards systems that are sustainable and carbon neutral. We will have to abandon agricultural practices that prioritize short-term profitability over the health of consumers and the long-term viability of soils and aquifers. We will have to remember that there is more to be gained from community, cooperation, and connection than there is from an unending and unwinnable battle for dominance over nature and one another. All this is as much an opportunity as it is a challenge.
When FDR fought for the original New Deal it was opposed by the financial and industrial elites of his time, using rhetoric that remains familiar to this day. They called it ‘socialism’ and considered it an unwarranted government intrusion into the affairs of the ‘free-market’. But against the backdrop of the Great Depression he was able to implement programs such as the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps that put people back to work, modernized infrastructure in previously underdeveloped parts of the country, and built the foundations for a post-war economic boom. In the end, and despite the critiques of backward-looking elites, the New Deal did not undermine capitalism, it saved it.
The climate crisis presents us with similar opportunities today. We must not fail to grasp them because the challenges are daunting. Once again financial and industrial elites, clinging to archaic sources of wealth and power, deny that the crisis warrants a response and that any efforts by American citizens, acting through their elected government to reform the energy and agricultural sectors of the economy, are somehow un-American. But these elites have also engaged in a deliberate, decades long program of deception about the impact of their business models on the climate. At the same time, they have exploited a broken campaign finance system to maintain their grip on billions of dollars of annual government subsidies.
According to the best science available today, we must act quickly to avoid the gravest consequences of the climate crisis but we must also be sure to act thoughtfully, with a view not only to sustaining our way of life, but improving it. We should immediately eliminate federal subsidies to the fossil fuel and agricultural industries and shift those resources and incentives to support the renewable energy sector and small local farmers practicing regenerative agriculture. We should ban drilling and mining on federal lands and begin to tax the carbon those extractive industries produce. We should implement federal legislation and programs to replace the crumbling infrastructure of 19th century fossil fuel technologies with 21st century facilities producing and distributing clean, renewable energy. We should pass a federal jobs and public works bill to reconstitute the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration to begin the vital work of reforestation, habitat reclamation, and clean energy infrastructure development that will restore our environmental heritage, renew resources of natural carbon capture and shift economic development and job creation into the emerging industries of the future rather than the crumbling industries of the past.
The climate crisis is an urgent one, and the threat it poses is grave but it is also an opportunity to create jobs, build the foundation for future economic prosperity, and change our relationships with nature and one another. As we transition to clean energy, we can reinvigorate our workforce. As we bring the guarantee of clean air and water to American citizens and embrace sustainable construction models, we can repair America’s infrastructure. As we regulate factory-farming to be environmentally conscious, we can empower the American family farmer. As we reign-in the industries that have led us to this life-threatening peril, we can invest in the American ingenuity that will lead us into the future.
We face even greater challenges today than during the depression that inspired the original New Deal. We face extinction-level threats due to the exploitation of our natural resources and generations of inaction and neglect. We have the knowledge, means and resources to lead the world on the critical mission of saving ourselves and the planet.
According to science, we have a decade to save the planet for our children. Ike McCorkle will introduce and support any legislation necessary to protect our planet for human life, for his kids, and for yours.