AOC Previews Green New Deal: Oil Workers Replace Pipelines with Mangroves, Indigenous People Heal the Land

US Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) reacts after drawing a lottery num
Brendan Smialowski / AFP

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the Intercept website collaborated on a seven-minute video that takes place in a future where Democrats control the House, Senate, and White House, and America is fundamentally transformed into a socialist country where fossil fuels are eliminated, everyone is guaranteed a union job, and the Green New Deal saves the planet.

Ocasio-Cortez tweeted on Tuesday: Surprise! “For months we’ve been working on a very special + secret #GreenNewDeal project,” and promised to reveal it on Wednesday.

She posted the video, which she helped write and narrate, on Instagram, giving viewers another look at the socialist values she hopes to put in place in the United States.

The video begins as an older Ocasio-Cortez with a streak of gray hair is riding a bullet train from New York to Washington, DC. She recalls being elected to Congress as part of  “the most diverse Congress in history — up to that time.”

She says that for the first time “children in our community” could see people like them “navigating the halls of power.”

And then the video gets down to business, laying out a scenario in which Exxon-Mobile and politicians hid the truth about climate change and ignored scientists warnings about man-made global warming.

Politicians went to bat for fossil fuels, and these massive corporation kept digging and mining drilling and fracking like there was no tomorrow. America became the biggest producer and consumer of oil in the world. Fossil fuel companies made hundreds of billions while the public paid the lion’s share to clean up their disasters. We lost a generation of time we’ll never get back, entire species we’ll never get back. Natural wonders gone forever. And in 2017 Hurricane Maria destroyed the place where my family was from: Puerto Rico.

It was like a climate bomb. It took as many American lives as 9/11. And in the next year, when I was elected to Congress, the world’s leading climate scientists declared another emergency. They told us that we had 12 years left to cut our emissions in half or hundreds of millions of people would be more likely to face food and water shortages, poverty and health. Twelve years to change everything: How we got around, how we fed ourselves, how we made our stuff, how we lived and worked. Everything. The on way to do it was to transform our economy, which we already knew was broken since the vast majority of wealth was going to just a small handful of people, and most folks were falling further and further behind.

Ocasio-Cortez looks back to the “turning point” in 2018.

The wave began when Democrats took back the House in 2018 — and then the Senate and the White House in 2020 — and launched the decade of the Green New Deal, a flurry of legislation that kicked off our social and ecological transformation to save the planet. It was the kind of swing-for-the-fence ambition we needed. Finally, we were entertaining solutions on the scale of the crises we faced without leaving anyone behind. That included Medicare of All, the most popular social program in American history. We also introduced the federal Jobs guarantee, a public option including dignified living wages for work.

Ocasio-Cortez then profiles Ileana, a “true child of the Green New Deal,” who joins the AmeriCorps to restore wetlands.

“Most of her friends were in her union, including some oil workers in transition,” Ocasio-Cortex says. “They took apart old pipelines and got to work planting mangroves with the same salary and benefits.”

“Of course when it came to healing the land, we had huge gaps in our knowledge,” Ocasio-Cortez says. “Luckily, indigenous communities offered generational expertise to help guide the way.”

But even with the Green New Deal in place, there were still floods, fires, and droughts, and “Miami went under water for the last time.”

As for Ocasio-Cortez’s future, Ileana replaces her in 2028 in the “first cycle of publicly funded election campaigns.”

“When I think back to my first term in Congress, riding that old-school Amtrak in 2019, all of this was still ahead of us,” Ocasio-Cortez says. “And the first big step was just closing our eyes and imagining it.”

“We can be whatever we have the courage to see,” Ocasio-Cortez says.

The Intercept says of the project:

Set a couple of decades from now, the film is a flat-out rejection of the idea that a dystopian future is a forgone conclusion. Instead, it offers a thought experiment: What if we decided not to drive off the climate cliff? What if we chose to radically change course and save both our habitat and ourselves?

We realized that the biggest obstacle to the kind of transformative change the Green New Deal envisions is overcoming the skepticism that humanity could ever pull off something at this scale and speed. That’s the message we’ve been hearing from the “serious” center for four months straight: that it’s too big, too ambitious, that our Twitter-addled brains are incapable of it, and that we are destined to just watch walruses fall to their deaths on Netflix until it’s too late.

This film flips the script. It’s about how, in the nick of time, a critical mass of humanity in the largest economy on earth came to believe that we were actually worth saving. Because, as Ocasio-Cortez says in the film, our future has not been written yet and “we can be whatever we have the courage to see.”

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