Understanding the USA’s Green New Deal

What do you know about the USA’s Green New Deal? Unless you’re a so-called “policy wonk,” then the answer is probably “not much.” Maybe you recall AOC introducing it at the time. Don’t feel too bad, however, if you don’t — as the majority of Americans are also mainly in the dark about this potentially transformative agenda.

What are some of the reasons for our lack of understanding? Well, the legislative matters of the US congress are placed on a fairly user-unfriendly web-site that most citizens don’t access. For example, the original Green New Deal non-binding resolution from 2019 can be found here.

If one bothers to find the text or PDF at the above URL (under the handily-labelled “Text (1)” tab), they’ll see all of the pertinent info presented in the typical writing style and typographic format that only lawyers seem to use. Needless to say, the entire experience is less than enjoyable for us regular citizens. Clearly the situation calls for important information such as this to be presented in a much more accessible visual format.

Therefore, I’ve taken it upon myself to create an interactive PDF to help remedy the situation. It not only presents the official information via a series of screens in a more readable typographic format, but also provides links to external sources for additional information. The PDF can be downloaded here — please feel free to share it as you like.

What ended up happening with the Green New Deal? Well, then Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republicans killed the resolution at that time, to no one’s surprise. The good news, however, is that the Biden administration has introduced a variety of Green New Deal-inspired initiatives as key parts of the current pandemic stimulus package. So, the Green New Deal lives on, but in a different form than originally introduced.

In related action, Democrats have also introduced The National Climate Emergency Act, which directs President Biden to use his presidential powers to mitigate climate change. It’s recently appeared online — and could also stand to be reformatted in a similar fashion. Likewise, the often-discussed Paris Agreement resides here — and is provided in a similar, lawyerly fashion.

For the design professions, all of this points to a role where we help create better visual communications to more easily explain important public information. As social and environmental issues become ever more critical, it’s imperative that we do our part to help our fellow citizens understand the challenges that we will all face in the coming years.

Design educator + Professor @ The Ohio State University

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