If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it's that we need to rethink everything.
From our broken healthcare system, to our poorly supported but so essential local and independent farmers, to our contaminated environment, to our own compromised immune systems—"normal" isn't working.
We need large-scale systems change. We need a Regenerative Green New Deal (GND).
TAKE ACTION: Ask your representatives in Congress to cosponsor the Green New Deal joint resolution introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)!
Next, use this tool to call and tweet your members of Congress.
The Green New Deal resolution is a broad set of goals, introduced simultaneously in the House and Senate, to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.
But it’s also so much more. Among many other goals, the Green New Deal aims to revitalize rural economies, and guarantee everyone access to clean air, clean water and healthy food.
The beauty of the Green New Deal can be summarized in one word: scale.
Rather than slowly chipping away, one-by-one, at existing policies in the hope of addressing huge problems like global warming, poverty, pollution and an industrial farming model that spews pollution and produces unhealthy food, the Green New Deal addresses all of these (and other crises) simultaneously and holistically, through a sweeping, truly transformational overhaul of energy, farming, labor and other policies that have for far too long served corporations, not people.
If Congress commits to this resolution, we’ll actually have a chance to make real, meaningful reform in our lifetimes.
Agriculture’s role in the Green New Deal
As one would expect (and hope), the Green New Deal calls for “meeting 100 percent of the power demand in the United States through clean, renewable and zero-emission energy sources.”
But the Green New Deal also recognizes agriculture as a source of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution, and calls for the elimination of both:
(i) by supporting family farming;
(ii) by investing in sustainable farming and land-use practices that increase soil health; and
(iii) by building a more sustainable food system that ensures universal access to healthy food.
Even better, the Green New Deal recognizes that agriculture done right provides a low-tech solution for reducing pollution and for drawing down greenhouse gases from the atmosphere and storing carbon in healthy soils.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has revealed just how interconnected we all are. It's given us a preview of what a global crisis looks like.
And there's no greater looming global crisis than the one we face if we don't address global warming.
Now that we’ve passed the dangerous tipping point of 350 parts per million (ppm) carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (we’re at 410 ppm), we have to figure out a way to draw down that CO2--or we will continue to suffer the cascading impacts of global warming even after we have eliminated greenhouse gas emissions.
The safest and most effective way we have of doing this is to increase the carbon content of our soils in farmland, pasture land, forests, wetlands and coastal marine ecosystems. This can be done on working lands through regenerative organic agriculture techniques that increase fertility and control pests by replacing chemicals with management practices. These include holistic planned grazing, composting, no-till, cover cropping, diverse crop mixes and rotations, and the incorporation of crops that return nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
The Green New Deal lays out a plan for the transition from greenhouse gas-polluting industrial agriculture to carbon-sequestering regenerative organic agriculture. Whether it is ultimately successful is up to us. The GND is nothing without a social movement to give it power and direction.