Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Friday, September 20, 2019

3283. Birds Are Vanishing From North America

By Carl Zimmer, The New York Times, September 19, 2019

Three billion birds

A survey of 529 bird species in the United States and Canada found that bird populations have fallen by 29 percent since 1970, a loss of nearly three billion birds.

Bird population change since 1970 by breeding habitat
Boreal forests
Western forests
Forest generalist
Eastern forests
Arid lands
Boreal forests
200 million
400 million
Note: Wetland and
coastal habitats
are not shown.
Habitat boundaries
are approximate.
Net loss of
600 million birds

By The New York Times | Source: Science

The skies are emptying out.

The number of birds in the United States and Canada has fallen by 29 percent since 1970, scientists reported on Thursday. There are 2.9 billion fewer birds taking wing now than there were 50 years ago.

The analysis, published in the journal Science, is the most exhaustive and ambitious attempt yet to learn what is happening to avian populations. The results have shocked researchers and conservation organizations.

In a statement on Thursday, David Yarnold, president and chief executive of the National Audubon Society, called the findings “a full-blown crisis.”

Experts have long known that some bird species have become vulnerable to extinction. But the new study, based on a broad survey of more than 500 species, reveals steep losses even among such traditionally abundant birds as robins and sparrows.

There are likely many causes, the most important of which include habitat loss and wider use of pesticides. “Silent Spring,” Rachel Carson’s prophetic book in 1962 about the harms caused by pesticides, takes its title from the unnatural quiet settling on a world that has lost its birds:

“On the mornings that had once throbbed with the dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens, and scores of other bird voices, there was now no sound.”

Kevin Gaston, a conservation biologist at the University of Exeter, said that new findings signal something larger at work: “This is the loss of nature.”

For decades, professional ornithologists have been assisted by an army of devoted amateur bird-watchers who submit their observations to databases and help carry out surveys of bird populations each year.

In the new study, the researchers turned to those surveys to estimate the populations of 529 species between 2006 and 2015.

Those estimates include 76 percent of all bird species in the United States and Canada, but represent almost the entire population of birds. (The species for which there weren’t enough data to make firm estimates occur only in small numbers.)

The researchers then used bird-watching records to estimate the population of each species since 1970, the earliest year for which there is solid data.

“This approach of combining population abundance estimates across all species and looking for an overall trend is really unprecedented,” said Scott Loss, a conservation biologist at Oklahoma State University who was part of the new study.

While some species grew, the researchers found, the majority declined — often by huge numbers.

“We were stunned by the result — it’s just staggering,” said Kenneth V. Rosenberg, a conservation scientist at Cornell University and the American Bird Conservancy, and the lead author of the new study.

“It’s not just these highly threatened birds that we’re afraid are going to go on the endangered species list,” he said. “It’s across the board.”

Weather radar offered another way to track bird populations. Dr. Rosenberg and his colleagues counted birds recorded on radar at 143 stations across the United States from 2007 to 2018. They focused on springtime scans, when birds were migrating in great numbers.

The team measured a 14 percent decline during that period, consistent with the drop recorded in the bird-watching records.

“If we have two data sets showing the same thing, it’s a home run,” said Nicole Michel, a senior quantitative ecologist at the Audubon Society who was not involved in the study.

Among the worst-hit groups were warblers, with a population that dropped by 617 million. There are 440 million fewer blackbirds than there once were.

Three Billion Birds
A survey of 529 bird species in the United States and Canada found that bird populations have fallen by 29 percent since 1970, a loss of nearly three billion birds.

Dr. Rosenberg said he was surprised by how widespread the population drop was. Even starlings — a species that became a fast-breeding pest after its introduction to the United States in 1890 — have dwindled by 83 million birds, a 49 percent decline.

Europe is experiencing a similar loss of birds, also among common species, said Dr. Gaston, of the University of Exeter. “The numbers are broadly comparable,” he said.

The new study was not designed to determine why birds are disappearing, but the results — as well as earlier research — point to some likely culprits, Dr. Rosenberg said.

Grassland species have suffered the biggest declines by far, having lost 717 million birds. These birds have probably been decimated by modern agriculture and development.
“Every field that’s plowed under, and every wetland area that’s drained, you lose the birds in that area,” Dr. Rosenberg said.

In addition to habitat loss, pesticides may have taken a toll. A study published last week, for example, found that pesticides called neonicotinoids make it harder for birds to put on weight needed for migration, delaying their travel.

The researchers found some positive signs. Bald eagles are thriving, for example, and falcon populations have grown by 33 percent. Waterfowl are on the upswing.

For the most part, there’s little mystery about how these happy exceptions came to be. Many recovering bird species were nearly wiped out in the last century by pesticides, hunting and other pressures. Conservation measures allowed them to bounce back.

“In those cases, we knew what the causes were and we acted on that,” Dr. Rosenberg said. “They’re models of success.”

But some thriving populations are harder to explain.

Tiny warbler-like birds called vireos are booming, with 89 million more birds than in 1970 — a jump of 53 percent. Yet warblers, which share the same habitats as vireos, have suffered a 37 percent decline.

“I have no idea why vireos are doing well,” Dr. Rosenberg said. “I’d love to do a study of vireos and discover what their secret is.”

The sheer scale of the bird decline meant that stopping it would require immense effort, said Dr. Young, of the University of California, Santa Barbara. Habitats must be defended, chemicals restricted, buildings redesigned. “We’re overusing the world, so it’s affecting everything,” she said.

udubon Society is calling for protection of bird-rich habitats, such as the Great Lakes and the Colorado River Basin, as well as for upholding the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which the Trump Administration is trying to roll back.

The society and other bird advocacy groups also suggest things that individuals can do. They urge keeping cats inside, so they don’t kill smaller birds. Vast numbers of birds die each year after flying into windows; there are ways to make the glass more visible to them.

To some birders, the study’s findings confirmed a dreaded hunch.

Beverly Gyllenhaal, 62, a retired cookbook author, and her husband, Anders, have spotted 256 species in parks in the eastern United States. But when she visited her mother in North Carolina in recent years, it seemed there weren’t as many birds as she recalled from her childhood there.

And when she talks to people around the United States on her birding travels, many say the same thing. “Oftentimes people will tell you, ‘It’s nothing like it used to be,’” she said.

The estimated losses have left her appalled. “If the cardinals and the blue jays and the sparrows aren’t doing well,” she said, “that’s really scary.”

Thursday, September 19, 2019

3282. American Electoral Politics: The Changing Shape of the Parties Is Changing Where They Get Their Money

By Thomas B. Edsall, The New York Times, September 18, 2019

Money is the mother’s milk of politics, as the old saying goes, and the slow-motion realignment of our two major political parties has changed who raises more money from the rich and who raises more from small donors.

A pair of major developments give us a hint about how future trends will develop on the partisan battleground.

First: Heading into the 2020 election, President Trump is on track to far surpass President Barack Obama’s record in collecting small-donor contributions — those under $200 — lending weight to his claim of populist legitimacy.

Second: Democratic candidates and their party committees are making inroads in gathering contributions from the wealthiest of the wealthy, the Forbes 400, a once-solid Republican constituency. Democrats are also pulling ahead in contributions from highly educated professionals — doctors, lawyers, tech executives, software engineers, architects, scientists, teachers and so on.

These knowledge class donors, deeply hostile to Trump, propelled the fund-raising success of Democratic House candidates in 2018 — $1 billion to the Republicans’ $661 million.
While there are advantages for Democrats in gaining support from previously Republican-leaning donors, this success carries costs. In winning over the high-tech industry, the party has acquired a constituency at odds with competing Democratic interest groups, especially organized labor and consumer protection proponents. Picking up rich backers also reinforces the image of a party dominated by elites.

In their paper, “Increasing Inequality in Wealth and the Political Expenditures of Billionaires,” Adam Bonica and Howard Rosenthal, political scientists at Stanford and N.Y.U., track the partisan contribution patterns of the Forbes 400 from the 1981-82 election cycle through the 2011-12 cycle.

For that three-decade period, the level of giving to Republicans and Republican Party committees by members of the Forbes 400 followed a steady downward trajectory, falling from 68 percent to 59 percent.

This downward trajectory coincided with the steady transformation of the sources of wealth for those on the Forbes list. In 1982, when the list was first published, solidly Republican manufacturers and energy producers dominated — 89 of the 400 richest Americans having made their fortunes in oil.

By 2018, 59 of the Forbes 400 had made their fortunes in technology, including six of the top ten: Jeff Bezos, No. 1; Bill Gates No. 2; Mark Zuckerberg, No. 4; Larry Ellison, No. 5; Larry Page, number 6; and Sergey Brin number 9. Eighty-eight more made their money in the financial sector. In contrast to the 1982 Forbes list, only 14 on the 2018 list made their money in manufacturing and 24 in energy.

“The 400 have trended steadily to the left,” conclude Bonica and Rosenthal.

The two authors write that from 1989 to 2017, members of the Forbes 400 have fared much better under Democratic presidents than Republican presidents: The 400 “did very well under the two Democrats, Clinton and Obama. They did not do well under either Bush.”

Bonica and Rosenthal’s analysis may prove troubling for those seeking to slow or reverse increasing wealth and income inequality. As the Forbes 400 moves toward the Democratic Party, they write, “Inequality in campaign contributions in the American plutocracy has grown hand in hand with the growth in economic inequality.”
They go on to raise another basic question: Does increased support for Democrats among the affluent and the rich undermine efforts to stem the growth of inequality?

The historic rise in inequality in recent decades has not ushered in an era of Republican fund-raising dominance. On the contrary, Democrats have made substantial gains against Republicans in recent decades while inequality was on the rise.

In a separate essay, published on the Scholars’ Strategy Network, which discusses the implications of their work, Bonica and Rosenthal wrote:

The superrich control resources that parties and politicians require and, as a result, are courted. Politicians have incentives to pay attention to the policy concerns that animate wealthy donors on left and right alike — and this dynamic influences public discussion and policymaking.

The continued concentration of money at the top, they write, translates into more political power:

"The ideas, values, and preferences of wealthy donors distort the focus of U.S. democracy more than individuals’ desires to grow their already vast fortunes. Rather than worry about individual corruption, citizens and leaders should worry about the many ways money in politics can amplify the voices of the privileged few over those of the majority. As wealth concentration grows, so will uneven political influence."

Bonica has turned tracking campaign contributions by wealth and occupation into a specialty.

He provided The Times with data extending from 1980 to 2016 covering the contribution patterns of donors who gave the largest amount of money in each election cycle. (Roughly a quarter of Bonica’s list overlaps with the Forbes 400 list.)

In the 1979-80 presidential election cycle, 71 percent of the top 400 donors gave to Republicans and to right-of-center political action committees, while 29 percent gave to Democrats and left-of-center PACS, a 42-point difference. In the 2015-16 presidential cycle, 54 percent gave to Republicans and right-leaning PACs, and 46 percent gave to Democrats, an 8-point difference.

In the case of contribution patterns of those in different occupations, Bonica emailed in response to my inquiry:

"The medical profession has perhaps experienced the largest generational realignment. Physicians who graduated medical school before the 1990s tend to favor Republicans, but younger cohorts have trended sharply to the left.
Bonica’s data shows that doctors who graduated in the 30 years from 1960 to 1990 consistently gave more to Republicans than to Democrats, generally in the 54-55 percent range."

Starting with those graduating in 1990, however, the share of contributions going to Republicans began to decline, dropping below 50 percent for those graduating in 1996 and falling to the low 30s for the youngest cohort.

As further evidence of this trend, Bonica cited a 2017 survey of 1,660 medical students published in the journal Academic Medicine. The survey reported that 89.1 percent said they supported Obamacare. In the survey, 77.7 identified themselves as liberal, 12.2 percent moderate and 7.2 percent conservative.

Bonica’s study of lawyers, conducted with Maya Sen, a political scientist at Harvard, also demonstrates a strong pro-Democratic trend in campaign contributions, although attorneys have leaned Democratic for decades.

On an ideological scale — with plus numbers indicating right-of-center and minus numbers indicating left-of-center — Bonica found that lawyers who graduated from nonelite schools shifted from roughly evenly split between left and right in the 1950s to minus .6, or liberal, by 2012. Lawyers from elite schools (Harvard, Stanford, Yale, etc.) were liberal-leaning in the 1950s (minus .25) and became rock-solid liberals by the current decade (minus .9).

Three different scholars — David E. Broockman and Neil Malhotra, professors at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, and Gregory Ferenstein, an independent journalist who writes about Silicon Valley — have a different take. Their paper, “Predispositions and the Political Behavior of American Economic Elites: Evidence from Technology Entrepreneurs,” explores some of the political consequences of the ascendance of high-tech.

Technology entrepreneurs, despite their Democratic leanings, are ambivalent on key elements of the Democratic agenda, according to Broockman and his co-authors. They are reliably orthodox liberals on some issues, not so reliable on others.

On matters of globalization, trade, and immigration, this Silicon Valley constituency is firmly pro-globalization. Eighty-seven percent support free trade agreements and 56 percent are “in favor of increasing levels of immigration,” which is “15 points higher than Democratic” rank and file, the paper says.

On social issues, the authors found that “technology entrepreneurs are again very liberal,” including near-universal (96 percent) support of same-sex marriage, 82 percent support of gun control and 67 percent opposition to the death penalty.

Perhaps most significant and most surprising, surveys of high tech executives conducted by Broockman and colleagues show that tech entrepreneurs “strongly support redistribution and taxation.” For example, Broockman et al. continue, “nearly all technology entrepreneurs support increasing taxes on those making over $250,000 or $1,000,000 per year (with 76 and 83 percent expressing some support for each, respectively).” Seventy-five percent support programs specifically targeted toward the poor, including 59 percent in support of increased spending for the poor. Some 82 percent indicated “support for universal health care even if it means raising taxes.”

While high tech executives share the views of liberal elites generally on the issues described above, there are significant areas of conflict.

“Technology entrepreneurs do not share conventional Democratic views on the regulation of product and labor markets,” the authors write. “Technology entrepreneurs are indeed more conservative even than Republican citizens and most similar to Republican donors.”

On specific issues, almost all (82 percent) tech executives believe that it is too difficult to fire workers and that the government should make it easier to do so. However, majorities of Democratic donors and citizens believe the government should make it harder to fire workers (a 50 percentage point difference from technology entrepreneurs).

In the case of organized labor, three quarters (74 percent) of tech executives “say they would like to see labor unions’ influence decrease, versus only 18 percent of Democratic donors and 33 percent of Democratic citizens.”

In their conclusion, the three authors address how the growing influence of the tech industry in Democratic politics will affect the party’s approach to social spending and the reduction of inequality.

On one hand, they write, “technology entrepreneurs seem poised to support Democratic candidates — and therefore redistributive policies that should reduce inequality — financially.”

On the other, they point out that these entrepreneurs generally stand opposed to many government interventions in markets — such as government support for labor unions, worker protections, and consumer protections — that have long been central to the Democratic Party’s ideological answer to inequality and supported by traditional Democratic constituencies.

The result, they suggest, is that as Democratic elected officials receive increasing financial support from technology entrepreneurs and attempt to court further support from them” intraparty conflicts over “regulating product and labor markets may take center stage.

Altogether, the developments at the high-end of campaign finance are a mixed bag for the Democratic Party, expanding the sources of political money while simultaneously risking internal divisions.

More worrisome for the Democratic Party and its candidates is Donald Trump’s exceptional success in raising campaign money in small dollar amounts, which suggests that his racial and anti-immigrant rhetoric continues to motivate supporters.

Federal Election Commission data on Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 bid, along with an analysis of Trump’s fund-raising in the 2020 campaign by the Center for Responsive Politics, shows the following.

By the end of his re-election campaign, Obama raised a total of $549.4 million, of which $234.4 million, or 42.7 percent, came in contributions of less than $200.

By the end of her 2016 campaign, Clinton raised a total of $405.7 million, of which $105.6 million, or 26.0 percent, came in low dollar amount,

By the end of June 2019, at a much earlier stage in his campaign, Trump had raised a total of $124.8 million, of which $87.3 million, or 70.0 percent, is made up of donations under $200.

Brian Schaffner, a political scientist at Tufts, wrote in an email that “Trump’s appeal is more to ideologues and emotional Republican contributors rather than to strategic and traditional Republican large-dollar donors.”

He argues that the fact that Trump raises such a large share from small-dollar donors is due less to Trump’s improvement among small donors than it is to the difficulty he has raising money from large donors. This is really a story about how the traditional large donors in the Republican Party didn’t want to give to Trump in 2016 and even so far in 2020 they continue to be reluctant to contribute to him.

Raymond J. La Raja, a political scientist at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, also emailed me:

"It is not too surprising that Trump has outpaced others, even Obama, in raising money from small donors." 

Individual donors — big and small — tend to be much more polarized compared to the rest of the electorate. They give because of strong ideological preferences and passions. People like Trump ignite those passions.

Bonica notes that “there is a strong association between ideological extremity and total funds raised from small donors at the presidential level.” Bonica’s calculations of the ideological positioning of the candidates shows that Trump is “the most extreme conservative,” while Bernie Sanders, who “raised 58 percent of his campaign dollars from small donors” in 2016, stands out as the most liberal candidate, “which might mirror what we see in Trump from the left.”

Trump’s success in raising small-dollar contributions is not necessarily a harbinger of his prospects in November 2020. It does, however, raise a question about the contemporary role of the two major political parties.

Traditionally, one of the core strengths of the Democratic Party has been that voters trust it more than the Republican Party to protect and advance the interests of the middle class. In recent years, however, that advantage has been eroding.

The NBC/WSJ poll has repeatedly asked voters “which party do you think would do a better job looking out for the middle class?”

In the 1990s, an average of eight polls showed the Democrats with a 22.25 point advantage, 43.0 to 21.75. The question was dropped only to be resumed in December 2011. From 2011 to September 2014, the Democratic advantage fell to 19.5 points, 44.0 to 24.5.

Since then, in six surveys conducted from June 2015 to October 2018 — the Trump era — the Democratic advantage continued to erode to 13.1 points, 41.3 to 28.2. In the two most recent surveys, the Democratic advantage fell to 10 points, 41 to 31, less than half of what it was in the 1990s.

The Democrats may or may not regain the presidency in 2020, but they could well lose their invaluable credential as the party of the middle class.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

3280. The Limits of Clean Energy

By Jason Hickel, Foreign Policy, September 6, 2019
Strong winds blow sand at a wind farm in the Coachella Valley on May 6, 2019 in Palm Springs, California. MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES

The conversation about climate change has been blazing ahead in recent months. Propelled by the school climate strikes and social movements like Extinction Rebellion, a number of governments have declared a climate emergency, and progressive political parties are making plans—at last—for a rapid transition to clean energy under the banner of the Green New Deal.

This is a welcome shift, and we need more of it. But a new problem is beginning to emerge that warrants our attention. Some proponents of the Green New Deal seem to believe that it will pave the way to a utopia of “green growth.” Once we trade dirty fossil fuels for clean energy, there’s no reason we can’t keep expanding the economy forever.

This narrative may seem reasonable enough at first glance, but there are good reasons to think twice about it. One of them has to do with clean energy itself.
The phrase “clean energy” normally conjures up happy, innocent images of warm sunshine and fresh wind. But while sunshine and wind is obviously clean, the infrastructure we need to capture it is not. Far from it. The transition to renewables is going to require a dramatic increase in the extraction of metals and rare-earth minerals, with real ecological and social costs.

We need a rapid transition to renewables, yes—but scientists warn that we can’t keep growing energy use at existing rates. No energy is innocent. The only truly clean energy is less energy.

In 2017, the World Bank released a little-noticed report that offered the first comprehensive look at this question. It models the increase in material extraction that would be required to build enough solar and wind utilities to produce an annual output of about 7 terawatts of electricity by 2050. That’s enough to power roughly half of the global economy. By doubling the World Bank figures, we can estimate what it will take to get all the way to zero emissions—and the results are staggering: 34 million metric tons of copper, 40 million tons of lead, 50 million tons of zinc, 162 million tons of aluminum, and no less than 4.8 billion tons of iron.

In some cases, the transition to renewables will require a massive increase over existing levels of extraction. For neodymium—an essential element in wind turbines—extraction will need to rise by nearly 35 percent over current levels. Higher-end estimates reported by the World Bank suggest it could double.

The same is true of silver, which is critical to solar panels. Silver extraction will go up 38 percent and perhaps as much as 105 percent. Demand for indium, also essential to solar technology, will more than triple and could end up skyrocketing by 920 percent.
And then there are all the batteries we’re going to need for power storage. To keep energy flowing when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing will require enormous batteries at the grid level. This means 40 million tons of lithium—an eye-watering 2,700 percent increase over current levels of extraction.

That’s just for electricity. We also need to think about vehicles. This year, a group of leading British scientists submitted a letter to the U.K. Committee on Climate Change outlining their concerns about the ecological impact of electric cars. They agree, of course, that we need to end the sale and use of combustion engines. But they pointed out that unless consumption habits change, replacing the world’s projected fleet of 2 billion vehicles is going to require an explosive increase in mining: Global annual extraction of neodymium and dysprosium will go up by another 70 percent, annual extraction of copper will need to more than double, and cobalt will need to increase by a factor of almost four—all for the entire period from now to 2050.

The problem here is not that we’re going to run out of key minerals—although that may indeed become a concern. The real issue is that this will exacerbate an already existing crisis of over-extraction. Mining has become one of the biggest single drivers of deforestation, ecosystem collapse, and biodiversity loss around the world. Ecologists estimate that even at present rates of global material use, we are overshooting sustainable levels by 82 percent.

Take silver, for instance. Mexico is home to the Peñasquito mine, one of the biggest silver mines in the world. Covering nearly 40 square miles, the operation is staggering in its scale: a sprawling open-pit complex ripped into the mountains, flanked by two waste dumps each a mile long, and a tailings dam full of toxic sludge held back by a wall that’s 7 miles around and as high as a 50-story skyscraper. This mine will produce 11,000 tons of silver in 10 years before its reserves, the biggest in the world, are gone.

To transition the global economy to renewables, we need to commission up to 130 more mines on the scale of Peñasquito. Just for silver.

Lithium is another ecological disaster. It takes 500,000 gallons of water to produce a single ton of lithium. Even at present levels of extraction this is causing problems. In the Andes, where most of the world’s lithium is located, mining companies are burning through the water tables and leaving farmers with nothing to irrigate their crops. Many have had no choice but to abandon their land altogether. Meanwhile, chemical leaks from lithium mines have poisoned rivers from Chile to Argentina, Nevada to Tibet, killing off whole freshwater ecosystems. The lithium boom has barely even started, and it’s already a crisis.

And all of this is just to power the existing global economy. Things become even more extreme when we start accounting for growth. As energy demand continues to rise, material extraction for renewables will become all the more aggressive—and the higher the growth rate, the worse it will get.

It’s important to keep in mind that most of the key materials for the energy transition are located in the global south. Parts of Latin America, Africa, and Asia will likely become the target of a new scramble for resources, and some countries may become victims of new forms of colonization. It happened in the 17th and 18th centuries with the hunt for gold and silver from South America. In the 19th century, it was land for cotton and sugar plantations in the Caribbean. In the 20th century, it was diamonds from South Africa, cobalt from Congo, and oil from the Middle East. It’s not difficult to imagine that the scramble for renewables might become similarly violent.

If we don’t take precautions, clean energy firms could become as destructive as fossil fuel companies—buying off politicians, trashing ecosystems, lobbying against environmental regulations, even assassinating community leaders who stand in their way.

Some hope that nuclear power will help us get around these problems—and surely it needs to be part of the mix. But nuclear comes with its own constraints. For one, it takes so long to get new power plants up and running that they can play only a small role in getting us to zero emissions by midcentury. And even in the longer term, nuclear can’t be scaled beyond about 1 terawatt. Absent a miraculous technological breakthrough, the vast majority of our energy will have to come from solar and wind.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t pursue a rapid transition to renewable energy. We absolutely must and urgently. But if we’re after a greener, more sustainable economy, we need to disabuse ourselves of the fantasy that we can carry on growing energy demand at existing rates.

Of course, we know that poorer countries still need to increase their energy use in order to meet basic needs. But richer countries, fortunately, do not. In high-income nations, the transition to green energy needs to be accompanied by a planned reduction of aggregate energy use.

How might this be accomplished? Given that the majority of our energy is used to power the extraction and production of material goods, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change suggests that high-income nations reduce their material throughput—legislating longer product life spans and rights to repair, banning planned obsolescence and throwaway fashion, shifting from private cars to public transportation, while scaling down socially unnecessary industries and wasteful luxury consumption like the arms trade, SUVs, and McMansions.

Reducing energy demand not only enables a faster transition to renewables, but also ensures that the transition doesn’t trigger new waves of destruction. Any Green New Deal that hopes to be socially just and ecologically coherent needs to have these principles at its heart.