BY ZACHARY FISCH
I write to express my profound disappointment that Congresswoman Nita Lowey refused to support the select committee on a Green New Deal. It is yet another example of her inaction and complacency in the face of crisis.
As an 8th Grader at The Masters School, my teachers took our class to see An Inconvenient Truth, the 2006 documentary on climate change. As I watched the apocalyptic images of the ocean encroaching on Miami and Lower Manhattan, I was appalled. Someone had to do something to save the planet, I thought.
And we could not combat the crisis as individuals operating independently; our government had help spur collective action. But 12 years after my awakening at the Jacob Burns Film Center, Congress, including Congresswoman Lowey, has done nothing but collectively shrug as people die in increasingly harsh and frequent natural disasters.
Like most of her 30-year tenure in Congress, Congresswoman Lowey resisted bold action. She has chosen to play it safe. And we will all pay the price.
Climate change is an existential threat to our civilization right now. Disasters like Superstorm Sandy, which affected thousands of families in Westchester including my own, will become common. The Lower Hudson Valley is 50% more likely to have a 100-year flood in the 2020s, and up to 190% more likely to have one in the 2050s. Large parts of our infrastructure, including Amtrak and other commuter rail lines, project to be underwater within our lifetimes.
We don’t have much time to stave off catastrophe. A recent UN report found that we need to reduce emissions by 45% in the next 12 years to keep the rise in global temperatures to a manageable level.
A Green New Deal would do just that. It would put people to work to decarbonize our economy and protect our homes and infrastructure. Not only would it literally save the planet, it would make our communities more livable, and help us prepare to rescue the economy during the next recession. All the while, it would help lessen our county’s staggering income inequality, among the worst in the nation.
We need policies that match the scale of this impending crisis. A select committee on a Green New Deal would not have enacted those policies; it simply would have studied the problem and recommended legislation for Congress to pass in 2020. It was a reasonable approach backed by people across the political spectrum: 81% of voters approved of the committee, including 64% of Republicans. But Congresswoman Lowey let it die.
Rather than backing a select committee on a Green New Deal like over 40 other members of Congress, Congresswoman Lowey backed a watered-down Climate Change committee whose chair signaled a willingness to kowtow to fossil fuel companies and other polluters who have an interest in kneecapping our ability to avert climate disaster. That committee is unlikely to produce legislation that will stop our seas from rising and our forests from burning.
Climate change is not happening in 10 years. It’s happening now. It’s time for Congresswoman Lowey to realize that and act accordingly. We do not have time to wait.
Tarrytown-resident Zachary Fish is a JD candidate at Harvard Law School, Class of 2019