BY Naomi Lim
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez warned on Tuesday that Americans face dire consequences if immediate steps are not taken to mitigate the effects of climate change.
“I think what we have laid out here is a very clear moral problem and, in terms of leadership, if we fail to act, or even if we delay in acting, we will have blood on our hands,” the New York Democrat said.
Ocasio-Cortez gave the warning while grilling former Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel during a House Oversight Committee hearing on a global warming’s impact on national security. In a series of questions, the freshman congresswoman pressed the Obama administration alums on whether rising sea levels and increasing temperatures, among other factors, could have dangerous ramifications for U.S. military bases, the health of service members and veterans, migration patterns, and social instability.
“Do you think that neglecting to address these threats could contribute to the loss of American life?” Ocasio-Cortez asked Hagel.
“Yes,” said Hagel, a former senator from Nebraska who quit as Pentagon chief in 2015 over disagreements with the Obama White House on its response to the Islamic State.
“Do you think that appointing a federal panel that questions 26 years of established climate science could be responsible for the loss of American life?” Ocasio-Cortez inquired of Kerry, referring to how the Trump administration is considering a National Security Council commission to study whether climate change is undermining Americans’ safety.
“It could be,” Kerry replied.
Kerry, a former senator from Massachusetts, who in 2004 unsuccessfully contested the White House, hesitated when asked by Ocasio-Cortez whether he agreed with her “blood of our hands” assessment.
“Well, if I can, if I can, not to … There’s what happening. And it is happening. We are not responding,” he said. “As long as we do nothing, congresswoman, we are complicit in our acts of omission and commission of what we’re doing to choose for our energy, etc. We’re going to contribute to people dying, we’re going to contribute to trillions of dollars in damage to property, and we will change the face of life on this planet.”
Ocasio-Cortez, the driving force behind the controversial Green New Deal framework aims to achieve net-zero carbon emissions across the United States by 2030, took the opportunity to hit back at criticism leveled at her idea by Republicans on the committee.
“While I am incredibly flattered that the ranking member and many members across the aisle seem to be enamored with a nonbinding resolution presented by a freshman congressman sworn in three months ago, I think that ironically, despite that fixation, it doesn’t seem that they’ve actually read the contents of the proposed and presented resolution,” she said, mentioning Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. “We don’t need Cliff Notes for a 14-page resolution that was designed to be read in plain English by the American people.”