At a campaign event in Keokuk, Iowa on the morning he officially announced his run for the Democratic presidential nomination, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke strongly endorsed the Green New Deal, saying: “Not to be dramatic, but literally, the future of the world depends on us right now here where we are.”
“This is the final chance,” O’Rourke said. “The scientists are unanimous on this. We have no more than 12 years to take incredibly bold action on this crisis.”
QUESTION: Your thoughts on the new green deal?
BETO O’ROURKE: The question is on the Green New Deal, and if you don’t mind I will take the spirit of the question. We face catastrophe and crisis on this planet, even if we were to stop emitting Carbon today, right now at this moment, we know that the storms we saw in Texas, Harvey, which dumped a record amount of rain on the United States of America, as long as we have kept records, that claimed the lives of too many of our fellow Americans, flooded people literally out of their homes and businesses. Storms like Harvey will be more frequent, severe and devastating. Ultimately they’ll compromise the ability to live in a city like Houston, Texas. The droughts experienced in the panhandle of Texas, five years straight. We got rain and went back into droughts again. The same scientists say those droughts will be more profound, more severe. At a town hall like this. A young woman came in with her two children. She was skipping her son’s basketball practice to be there to talk to a Democrat though she was a life long Republican. She told me what her grandparents planted on the farm, what her parents planted on their farm, she’s now trying to plant it and it doesn’t grow. She said climate change isn’t something to prepare for. It is here.
Let us all be well aware that life will be a lot tougher for the generations that follow us, no matter what we do. It is only a matter of degrees. Along this current trajectory, there will be people who can no longer live in the cities they call home today. There is food grown in this country that will no longer prosper in these soils. There is going to be massive migration of tens or hundreds of millions of people from places that are going to be uninhabitable or under the sea.
This is the final chance. The scientists are unanimous on this. We have no more than 12 years to take incredibly bold action on this crisis. My gratitude to them for the young people who stepped up to offer such a bold proposal to meet such a grave challenge. They say we should do nothing less than marshal every resource in the country to meet that challenge, to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, to get to net zero emissions, which means not only must we emit less greenhouse gasses, we must plant things that absorb greenhouse gasses and Carbon and invest in the technology to allow us to claim some that are in the air now. Can we make it? I don’t know. It’s up to every one of us. Do you want to make it?
[ applause ]
Your kids, my kids. Ulysses, who in 2050 is going to be just about my age, will be looking back on this moment in Keokuk in 2019 and every moment thereafter to judge what we did or failed to do. Thinking about us, his kids’ lives, whether they can even breathe, depends on what we do now.
Some will criticize the Green New Deal for being too bold or being unmanageable. I tell you what, I haven’t seen anything better that addresses this singular crisis we face, a crisis that could at its worst lead to extinction. The Green New Deal does that. It ties it to the economy and acknowledges that all of the things are interconnected.
It also recognizes some communities have borne the brunt of pollution more than others. The asthma deaths we have in the United States of America concentrated in some neighborhoods, some people more than others. It wants to make sure we do our part in making this more equitable, helping communities already hurt so badly. That we ensure there are jobs available for those looking for work for purpose, for function in their lives who are succumbing to the diseases of despair.