Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has rounded on her Republican opponents, accusing them of making “total fools of themselves” in criticising her Green New Deal proposals.
The Democratic congresswoman from New York has come under increasing attack from conservatives over her resolution that calls for a 10-year “national mobilization” to eliminate greenhouse gases and avert the worst impacts of climate change.
Republicans have claimed that the resolution, which contains no actual legislation, is a socialist manifesto which would cause “genocide”. At a rally this week, Donald Trump called the proposal an “extreme $100tn government takeover” which would mean “no more airplanes, no more cows, one car per family”. The Texas senator Ted Cruz has said the Green New Deal will result in the end of hamburgers.
Such assertions have no basis in fact: the resolution does not call for the elimination of animal agriculture or aviation. The extraordinarily large cost attributed to the plan by Republicans, typically $93tn, is also false.
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Ocasio-Cortez said she expected such attacks.
“But I didn’t expect them to make total fools of themselves,” she told MSNBC on Friday. “I expected a little more nuance, and I expected a little more ‘concern trolling’,” meaning expressions of disingenuous concern.
Ocasio-Cortez added that politics in Washington DC often feels like “the upside down”, a reference to a distorted parallel reality depicted in the Netflix show Stranger Things.
The New Yorker said the challenge of climate change was inextricably linked to tackling issues such as economic inequality, requiring an enormous national effort to address.
“We need to save ourselves, period,” she said. “There will be no livable future for generations coming, for any part of the country if we don’t address this issue urgently.
“Historically speaking we have mobilized our country around war. It doesn’t need to be this way when the greatest existential challenge we face is climate change. We will have to mobilize our entire economy around saving ourselves and taking care of this planet.”
Reducing emissions from agriculture “doesn’t mean you end cows”, Ocasio-Cortez said, but rather deploy new farming techniques to cut methane and other planet-warming gases.
Some Democrats have questioned the feasibility of the Green New Deal, albeit in less extreme terms than Republicans. Ocasio-Cortez said action on climate change had been delayed for so long that only an aggressive response would be enough to avoid disastrous sea level rise, extreme weather and food and water insecurity.
“A lot of what the Green New Deal is is about shifting our economic, political and social paradigms on every issue because we don’t have time to wait,” she said. “We don’t have time to wait five years for a watered down compromise solution. To think that we have time is such as privileged and removed from reality attitude that we cannot tolerate.”
Trump has said he welcomes the chance to campaign for re-election on opposition to the Green New Deal. The president has routinely dismissed the scientific reality of climate change, vowed to remove the US from the Paris climate accords and attempted to spur new oil, gas and coal mining.
On Friday, Trump issued a new presidential permit to push ahead the construction of the controversial Keystone pipeline, which would bring oil from Canadian tar sands to refineries in the US.
“By personally approving the climate-killing Keystone XL pipeline, President Trump is showing complete contempt for the law and the idea of leaving a livable planet for future generations,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the environment groups opposing the pipeline.
Environmentalists have vowed to use the courts to block this agenda. They found encouragement on Saturday after a federal judge in Alaska overturned the Trump administration’s attempts to open huge areas of the Arctic and Atlantic for oil and gas drilling.
Protections for virtually all Arctic and Atlantic waters were put place by Barack Obama before he left office. These can only be undone by Congress, ruled Sharon Gleason, a US district court judge, meaning Trump’s move to scrap the protections was unlawful.