Getting the Green New Deal
by Rob Tiller
This week Sally succeeded in coaxing an orchid back into blossoming, after several months of hibernation. On Saturday I made a picture of it, and also took some shots of Sally’s expanding menagerie of house plants. Outside it’s been gray and rainy, but at Casa Tiller things are green and growing. The New Yorker cover of earlier this month of a devoted indoor gardener (see below) suited Sally well, and she framed it for her desk.
I’ve been reading a lot about the Green New Deal, and am hoping it has legs. The foundational GND document, House Resolution 109, is not long or difficult. It starts with a clear-eyed acknowledgement of the massive environmental disaster now threatening all of us, and recognizes that it will take years of work on many fronts to combat that threat. H. Res. 109 is primarily a call to arms, rather than a battle plan, and of course, much more planning is also needed. But it is encouraging to see at least a few political leaders putting the climate change issue front and center.
The GND suggests a connection between our current environmental crisis and social problems of education, health, jobs, inequality, and natural resources. It accepts that our predicament is part and parcel of our economic system, and fixing it will require systemic changes. The editorial board of the New York Times, as of today, prefers to view our rapidly degrading environment as unrelated to our economic myths and abuses.
But the connection is getting attention. In the Times, Lisa Friedman and Trip Gabriel did a useful piece on some of the economic issues of the GND. Robinson Meyer in the Atlantic has a good discussion of the GND and economic policy. David Roberts, in Vox gives a useful historical overview and points up the GND’s intent to foster new social and economic relationships. Is any of this politically feasible within a viable time frame? Maybe I’m an optimist, but I want to believe so.
Last night we went to Durham for dinner and an extraordinary concert: master cellist Steven Isserlis and master pianist Robert Levin in an all Beethoven program. In Duke’s Baldwin auditorium, Isserlis and Levin played the first, third, and fifth of the five cello sonatas, along with the Op. 66 Magic Flute variations. They presented this great music using a fortepiano, the type of instrument that Beethoven primarily used. The keyboard and cello blended wonderfully. More than any cellist I’ve ever heard, Isserlis made me forget that the cello is very difficult to play. He seemed radiant with joy, and the music seemed to come directly from his heart.