You would not be the only who, at hearing the phrase Blue New Deal, responds with a “huh?”. After all, Green New Deal only recently entered our lexicon, introduced by Democrats south of the border and migrating north as Canadian environmentalists recognize the increasing appeal of a broad plan that tackles the climate crisis from economic, health and national security perspectives, as well as ecological.
The term “new deal” itself echoes the successful post-Depression FDR plan to put America back to work expanding infrastructure and reforming Wall Street. Green New Deal applies that same can-do approach to our climate crisis.
(I hope you’re familiar with the Green New Deal because, as Naomi Klein outlines in her latest book On Fire: The Burning New Case for a Green New Deal, it’s a game-changer, a full-throated response to the increasingly urgent warnings of the world’s climate scientists that the clock’s ticking is getting louder.)
So when, at CNN’s recent town hall dedicated to climate issues, a fisherman asked presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren for her thoughts on a Blue New Deal, well, sure it sounds intriguing but what, exactly, is it?
Well, it’s the Green New Deal without the environmental baggage, quips Wallace J. Nichols, author of Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected and Better At What You Do.
The problem with a Green New Deal, says Wallace J. Nichols, a fierce advocate for nature as medicine, is that it’s already become highly partisan. “Politically, it’s pretty loaded,” he says.
A Blue New Deal would include investment in aquaculture, coastal infrastructure, and offshore energy projects. It aims to encourage recognition and inclusion of the world’s waterways in any policy addressing the climate crisis. While the Amazon burns, let’s not forget that oceans also absorb a quarter of the world’s carbon pollution. Coasts — and coastal economies — are among the most threatened, as our planet warms and seawater acidifies.
“I like that,” said Elizabeth Warren, when asked about a Blue New Deal. Those of us who spent time near the water should like it too. Science already tells us the physiological benefits of spending time near water. We know, too, the economic value of healthy waterways.
“All of a sudden, you have this bigger movement,” says Nichols. “It’s an accelerator in terms of ecological integrity of waterways, of our coasts, and the economies of our countries.”
A Blue New Deal would make us healthier, he says, more productive, more creative, more connected to each other. “It just instantly feels more expansive, hopeful and inviting.”