The Green New Deal: What It Means for Medicine
by: Jane M. Orient, M.D.
The truth has been acknowledged by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s own chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti The Green New Deal is not primarily about greening the planet or controlling the climate. It’s about socialism, as the people from whom she plagiarized it have said all along. It’s a fundamental transformation of our way of life.
Since everything you do leaves a “carbon footprint,” the GND encompasses literally everything—especially your medical care.
The first question is whether you should be alive at all. In his sensational 1968 book, The Population Bomb, entomologist (insect specialist) Paul Ehrlich predicted that hundreds of millions of people would starve to death in the 1970s. That bomb fizzled, but he still believes that civilization is doomed within decades, as humanity places inexorable burdens on our Planet’s life support systems. The optimum population of the planet is less than 2 billion, he thinks, or 5.6 billion fewer than we have now.
Once you’re here, Ehrlich and his acolytes would apparently tolerate your presence, although the decline in U.S. life expectancy for the third consecutive year would likely be good news. But having children is another matter. The demographic legacy of one person, calculated over the average time for that person’s lineage to die out, is about 6 person-lifetimes in the U.S., with eventual emission of 9,441 tons of carbon dioxide. So, “reproductive health” ideally means no reproduction for most people, and many millennials (and celebrities) seem to embrace that idea. Predictably, unrestricted or even free abortion is an article of faith among Democrat candidates. And the LGBTQ agenda, also favored by all, tends to contribute to the goal of population reduction.
Ironically, politicians still talk about “our children and our grandchildren,” though they may work to assure that many of us don’t have any.
The U.S. health care sector is said to account for around 10 percent of the CO2 generated in the U.S. and thus “could be implicated” in 10 percent (20,000) of the nearly 200,000 premature deaths attributable to air pollution annually in the United States. (There are about 3 million annual deaths in the U.S., and it is impossible to identify even one as being premature because of air pollution; the argument is purely statistical.) Thus, hospitals are supposedly killing people, albeit indirectly, by using carbon-based energy for heating, air conditioning, elevators, lighting, ventilators, etc.
Surgery is a special problem, beyond the use of electricity, because anesthetic gases that might have a greenhouse effect are vented to the atmosphere. So, are anesthesiologists to worry about a hypothetical tiny effect on the climate 50 years from now, instead of the best treatment for the patient?
“Social determinants of health” are the trendiest subject in “healthcare reform.” GND prescriptions would profoundly affect those. Diet would be mostly plant-based foods, with meat limited, ultimately to 1 oz per day. Living space would be restricted, some propose to 320 sq ft per person, with no single-family homes allowed except for trailers. Energy efficiency standards would entail restrictions on entry of outside air, without regard to effects on indoor air pollution, including bacteria and viruses. (More than 300 people in a huge Hong Kong apartment building were infected with severe acute respiratory distress syndrome [SARS] because of this.) Transportation would be mostly walking, bicycling, or public transport. Private vehicles, except possibly electric, might be banned entirely, with roads converted to parks and walkways. It is not clear what emergency responders would do. If electricity came mostly from wind and solar it would be scarce, unreliable, and many times more expensive than now. (Already tens of thousands of deaths in the UK are attributed to inability to afford adequate heating, as costs of “renewable” electricity soared.)
The Democratic presidential debates, except for some squabbling over things like alleged racism, were a display of groupthink. Everybody raised a hand in favor of the GND and universal health care. Some are more radical than others; Kamala Harris insists that we have a “climate crisis,” not just “climate change.” What Americans need to know is the gritty detail behind the virtuous-sounding platitudes. How will their choices be constrained? How much will costs go up—for rent, utilities, fuel, food, and, of course, taxes? How will their standard of living be affected? And how will their actual medical care and health—as opposed to their health insurance card—be affected?
Jane M. Orient, M.D. obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson, and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1974. She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an Instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital. She has been in solo private practice since 1981 and has served as Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) since 1989. She is currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness. She is the author of YOUR Doctor Is Not In: Healthy Skepticism about National Healthcare, and the second through fifth editions of Sapira's Art and Science of Bedside Diagnosis published by Wolters Kluwer. She authored books for schoolchildren, Professor Klugimkopf’s Old-Fashioned English Grammar and Professor Klugimkopf’s Spelling Method, published by Robinson Books, and coauthored two novels published as Kindle books, Neomorts and Moonshine. More than 100 of her papers have been published in the scientific and popular literature on a variety of subjects including risk assessment, natural and technological hazards and nonhazards, and medical economics and ethics. She is the editor of AAPS News, the Doctors for Disaster Preparedness Newsletter, and Civil Defense Perspectives, and is the managing editor of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.