Politics

Ocasio-Cortez: ‘World Is Gonna End in 12 Years if We Don’t Address Climate Change’

Democrat compares 'generational challenge' to World War II during remarks at an event honoring Martin Luther King

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) on Monday spoke out about the urgent need to take action on climate change — and compared the crisis to World War II.

She made her comments at an event at Riverside Church in Harlem to commemorate Martin Luther King Day.

The Democratic socialist, who began her term as an elected lawmaker on January 3 with the 116th Congress, said the issue of climate change is a “generational” one.

“I think that the part of it that is generational is that millennials and people, in Gen Z, and all these folks that come after us, are looking up and we’re like, ‘The world is gonna end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change. And your biggest issue is — your biggest issue is how are we going to pay for it? And this is this is the war, this is our World War II,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

“I think for younger people, we’re looking at this — are more like, how are we saying, ‘Let’s take it easy’ when 3,000 Americans died last year? How are we saying, ‘Let’s take it easy’ when the nth person died from our cruel and unjust criminal justice system?” she said.

“How are we saying, ‘Take it easy?’ The America that we’re living in today is dystopian with people sleeping in their cars so they can work a second job without health care — and we’re told to settle down,” she added. “It’s a fundamental separation between that fierce urgency of now — the why, we can’t wait — that [Martin Luther] King spoke of … Sometimes I just feel like people aren’t being held accountable. Until we start pitching in and holding people accountable, I’m just gonna let them have it.”

While many reports certainly have raised alarms about climate change, those reports have stopped far short of predicting the end of the world.

A study from a United Nations panel last fall said the world should take “unprecedented” actions to cut carbon emissions in the next decade to avoid rising past 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels.

In November, the White House released another report about climate change impacts. “Extreme weather and climate-related events” will worsen in the years to come, with a significant economic impact, it said. It found that extreme weather disasters “have already become more frequent, intense, widespread or of long duration and have cost the U.S. nearly $400 billion since 2015.”

That National Climate Assessment Vol. 2 report was prepared by officials from 13 federal departments and agencies and was more than a year in the making. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) led the reporting effort, which is collectively known as the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).

But White House press secretary Sarah Sanders expressed doubt about some of the findings, saying during a briefing, “You have to look at the fact that this report is based on the most extreme modeled scenario, which contradicts long-established trends. Modeling the climate is an extremely complicated science that is never exact.” She added, “We think this is the most extreme version, and it’s not based on facts.” President Donald Trump also expressed doubt about the report.

After reviewing it, Norman Rogers, a policy adviser to The Heartland Institute, a think tank based in Illinois, and a former director of operations for Zero Population Growth, said the critical flaw in such climate analyses is that they’re based on groups of data-based models. These, in turn, are based on subjective assumptions favored by their creators.

“The way the models are used to create predictions or projections of future climate is determined by political, not scientific, considerations. The results of the many models are simply averaged together to create an ensemble of climate models that is used to make the doomsday predictions,” Rogers said.

Ocasio-Cortez, 29, recently lashed out at those who review some of her most extreme public statements, accusing people of “false equivalency” and “bias” before backing down on the criticism.

Among other Democrats, Ocasio-Cortez is an outspoken advocate of the radical Green New Deal, which calls for the U.S. to use 100 percent renewable energy, phase out all fossil fuels within 12 years, and release zero carbon emissions. Asked recently how she planned to pay for this plan and how high she was proposing to raise taxes, Ocasio-Cortez replied said that everyone — particularly the nation’s wealthiest — should be ready and willing to pay “their fair share.”

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