Bernie Sanders Iowa rally, AOC argue for ‘Green New Deal’.

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez drew more than 2,000 people to Drake University on Saturday to hear them rail against the climate crisis and the oil companies they blame for it, and promote their “Green New Deal.”

But first, the audience sat through a slideshow. It was created by a climate scientist, showing graphs and numbers highlighting the loss of the Arctic ice sheet and increasing carbon dioxide levels, and the precarious balance of “spaceship Earth’s” life support system. It was far from a typical start to a political rally fewer than 90 days from Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential-nominating caucuses.

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The big cheers and applause came later in the Des Moines event. Ocasio-Cortez’s entrance was greeted by a sea of cellphones popping out to take photos and videos — evidence of the enthusiasm her political celebrity brought to the swing. She greeted the crowd in turn by asking who was ready for a “Green New Deal.”

Saturday’s “Climate Crisis Summit,” a centerpiece of Sanders’ swing with the New York congresswoman, wasn’t a traditional campaign rally. Before the politicians’ keynote speeches, a panel of local and national activists spoke about problems and solutions for climate change. Sanders’ campaign announced last week that it was refocusing its Iowa effort around climate change. It branded its events with Ocasio-Cortez around the “Green New Deal.”

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emake the economy around fighting climate change. Sanders has adopted a similar proposal in his campaign — an estimated $16.3 trillion effort that would create 20 million jobs, lead to a 100% renewable-energy-powered electric system and a 100% electric transportation system by 2030, according to the campaign. It would also remake much of the agricultural industry toward small farms and away from large agribusiness operations.

“When it comes to a Green New Deal, it’s always, always a question of how we’re going to pay for it,” Ocasio-Cortez said, being drowned out by a standing ovation. “… As if we’re not paying for it right now, with half the Midwest under water, as if Hurricane Katrina and Maria didn’t happen, as if sea levels weren’t rising, as if California wasn’t on fire. How do we pay for that?”

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Ocasio-Cortez was a key reason Wes Wierson, a genome scientist, attended the summit Saturday, he said. He’s heard her in 30-second snippets on the news but wanted to hear her in person and at length. But the focus on climate was itself noteworthy, he said.


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