ASLA Statement on the Green New Deal

Green New Deal launch on Capitol Hill / WIkipedia, Senate Democrats, CC BY 2.0

Significant Overlap Seen Between ASLA’s Report, Smart Policies for a Changing Climate, and Many Provisions of the Green New Deal Resolution

A wide-ranging proposal for a Green New Deal (GND) was introduced on February 7 in the House of Representatives in the form of a resolution sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), with a companion resolution introduced in the Senate by Sen. Edward Markey (Mass.).

Although the current GND resolution is largely aspirational and includes few specific policies, it contains a commitment to core principles of urgent transformational change that are fully compatible with ASLA’s positions, and mirror the recommendations the Society already put forward in our Blue Ribbon Panel report, Smart Policies for a Changing Climate.

Like our report, the GND resolution calls for widespread, immediate action that will ensure clean air and water; climate and community resiliency; access to nature; and a sustainable environment. We also strongly back calls for a national commitment to environmental justice for all Americans, especially for those from underserved, vulnerable, and neglected groups that have historically borne the brunt of the ill-effects of environmental calamities. ASLA supports the underlying principles of the GND resolution that relate specifically to climate change and resilience, and we are pleased that it has served to stimulate public debate about the accelerating climate crisis.

We note that in addition to climate-related policies, the resolution also contains several recommendations about social and economic issues that are beyond the scope of the Society’s mandate and existing policies, matters about which we can take no formal position.

ASLA members can be assured that when the GND is translated into formal legislative proposals to reduce carbon emissions, make transformational changes to infrastructure, and create a robust 21st-century clean-energy economy, ASLA will be at the forefront of the fight to enact them into law. We firmly believe that landscape architects must take a leadership role in planning and designing sustainable, resilient communities and ASLA, without question, will do its part to bring the climate principles of the Green New Deal to fruition.

ASLA is pleased that the Green New Deal resolution has significantly expanded the scope and intensity of the dialogue about climate change and we are extremely gratified that the Society’s report mirrors its major climate and infrastructure goals and we look forward to the legislative proposals that will stem from it.

14 thoughts on “ASLA Statement on the Green New Deal

  1. Randal Romie, ASLA 02/13/2019 / 3:04 pm

    “GND resolution is largely aspirational” I find it to be so far gone that it’s not worth the recognition of it, and “contains a commitment to core principles of urgent transformational change that are fully compatible with ASLA’s positions”.

    It has been said that bad publicity is better than none. While bringing “green” to the public is a good thing, I’m sure that ASLA does not need bad publicity.

    From the extremes that are mentioned in this GND I would recommend that ASLA not stoop so low as to associate with this impossible dream.

    We are green professionals, have been for over 100 years; we are the profession for now and for the future; we must lead and be on the forefront, in my opinion this is political gone bad.

  2. James Obert 02/16/2019 / 5:46 pm

    Amen – this political grandstanding is why I am no longer a member of ASLA after paying my dues for over 40 years.

  3. Paul Barwick 02/21/2019 / 2:32 pm

    I am considering cancelling my membership as well. The GND is truly aspirational and truly unattainable if you look at proposed “make believe” funding and implementation. This shallow and impractical initiative smacks of too much partisan political posturing for a professional membership to promote.

  4. Kerry Burt, ASLA 02/21/2019 / 3:10 pm

    If ASLA is going to even imply that GND is remotely good for America, I will have to reconsider my affiliation. I’ve tolerated ASLA’s obsession with the fallacy of global warming but supporting legislation that would ravage the economy almost immediately is beyond absurd. Any 3rd grader can figure out GND isn’t remotely feasible and would send the world into the second great depression.

    Landscape architects should lead the way regarding stewardship of our planet’s resources with practical, intelligent solutions. Aligning with insane political notions only undermines our credibility.

  5. Robert Loftis, ASLA 02/21/2019 / 6:31 pm

    I applaud the tactful way ASLA has: lent their support to portions of the GND that deal with our areas of expertise; acknowledged the GND’s lack of detail; and identified the items that are beyond the scope of landscape architecture.

    “ASLA supports the underlying principles of the GND resolution that relate specifically to climate change and resilience, and we are pleased that it has served to stimulate public debate about the accelerating climate crisis.”

    “the resolution also contains contains several recommendations about social and economic issues that are beyond the scope of the Society’s mandate and existing policies, matters about which we can take no formal position”.

    This is a fair way to carefully endorse a resolution that addresses the concerns of many ASLA members, quite possibly the majority of members. The response acknowledges the GND doesn’t address the question of “how” that is most concerning. It is indeed non-specific and aspirational.

    The GND is a non-binding resolution. Any legislation that comes out of it will be debated, negotiated and rewritten many time before being voted on. The bills that come from this will need to be realistic and attainable if they hope to pass. While the GND may read as implausible, it steers the conversation towards making big changes to the way we plan, design and construct our infrastructure. I think that is a welcome conversation regardless of how one may feel about the climate change debate.

    • Randal Romie, 02/22/2019 / 9:59 am

      I think the objections are not so much about Climate Change, you picked at one item, it’s that the GND is undignified and amateurish. We do need to discuss this at a national level so why not overtop this with ASLA’s stance. It is a true, professionally-driven posture that stands well above the GND political statement.

      • Robert Loftis 02/22/2019 / 1:11 pm

        One of ASLA’s priorities is to keep the society at the forefront of emerging issues, so I imagine they felt compelled to respond when the GND received so much press. AIA and other organizations were quick to release statements. In our local chapter there were members asking whether or not ASLA was going to comment. Crafting a position that represents ASLA’s diverse membership is a tall order. I thought they did a good job of noting the significant overlap with the findings of the ASLA Blue Ribbon Panel without wholly endorsing the resolution.

  6. Nicholas Braco 02/21/2019 / 9:33 pm

    I terminated my ASLA membership many moons ago when it became apparent that the organization was in the process of bending much too far to the left, especially with its position on anthropogenic global warming. Phooey! the GND isn’t worth the print paper it’s written on and is more accurately a not-so-veiled attempt to usher in a new age of Socialism and wealth redistribution. This silly and absurd “wish list” contains goals and objectives that are impractical, unachievable, and are nothing more than economy-crushing fairy tales.
    When I was going through the LA program in the late 70’s, it was understood that the profession depended on growth. Along with the design courses, classes in engineering, construction, architecture, surveying and mapping, etc. were meant to prepare the student to be an advocate for and participant in a profession relying on economic vitality in order to thrive. Any clear-thinking professional can see in 5 seconds that the GND is clueless Ocasio-Cortez’s vision of a redefined America– one that would enslave rather than liberate.
    It will be a colossal blunder if the ASLA is insistent on lending any kind of credence to this nonsense.

  7. Conner R Bruns 02/23/2019 / 11:12 am

    As a younger member of ASLA, it is very heartening to see the organization take a stance on matters that will effect my generation and my children’s generation the most. It’s unfortunate that the GND has become a partisan symbol, because of it’s association with political firebrands like AOC. However, ASLA’s statement carefully dissects the proposal and the specific measures that would impact the profession of landscape architecture such as climate change and resilience. I’m proud to be a member of a non-partisan organization that recognizes when it is important to support legislation that unequivocally aligns with its mission and vision.
    Just as FDR’s New Deal helped catapult the U.S. out of the Great Depression, the Green New Deal aims to tackle this generation’s most ‘wicked problems’ and I am proud to see mounting support from organizations like ASLA, AIA, and the LAF around these pressing issues. Keep up your hard work and never stop advocating!

  8. Ty Hall 02/26/2019 / 3:01 pm

    Wow oh wow! Unbelievable that ASLA stoops to a new low in supporting Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Have you listen to this lady in any interviews? Her ideas are not sustainable by any means. She is just another wacko liberal. I canceled my membership several years ago when you started bashing our current President Mr. Trump. Do you ever take a poll of your membership before you decide on what you are going to support? Maybe we need a new Landscape Organization that supports Conservative Landscape Architects. Maybe ASLA needs some competition with lower dues and sustainable sense you liberals love that word sooo much!!!

  9. Patricia Schroeder Loheed, FASLA 03/01/2019 / 2:19 pm

    My architect spouse and I attended IFLA’s 2008 Congress in Apeldoorn, NL where we heard the then Commissioner of Water & Public Works, national governmental head present the Dutch Plan for dealing with Climate Change, a plan then fully in place legally, staffed, and funded with a clearly-defined five priority plan that even a lay individual could understand!

    I came back and tried to proselytize Massachusetts government officials about the need for comprehensive and collaborative planning for climate change in New England, to no avail. I got the furthest with Ed Markey’s office; he was then Chair of the House Committee on Energy & Environment. But even there the “deep and narrow” silos of bodies of knowledge limited cross platform thinking.

    The US is severely limited not only by the science with deniers who don’t want to deal with sea level rise, soon to be contaminated potable water supplies with salt water intrusion, nor the amplified flood risk and desertification that are likely outcomes of climate change. These will make mega populations of climate refugees, long before issues of food production thin our ranks.

    A one meter sea level rise will likely knock out internet and other communications cables buried in the AMTRAK ROW in Rhode Island and Connecticut. Not to mention other transit in those coastal locations. Look at NOAA’s sea level rise models available on line. Look at the MIT and Woods Hole monitoring of Gulf Current changes in the Atlantic and changes in ocean salinity for factual evidence of what is going on.

    Basic high school general science and chemistry should be your focus on truth, not how high the dues, not liberal vs. conservative, not your voting spectrum. Your self preservation instincts should have been kicking in somewhere in the last ten years.

    • Randal Romie 03/02/2019 / 10:36 am

      Thanks for sharing your experience. While I might be labelled a “denier” I prefer to look at a bigger picture. I believe the climate has changed and changes everyday. Is the planet warming, I won’t deny it, but within what factor of time? Science doesn’t go back the millions of years with the capabilities of measuring that we have now. The climate has its cycles, 60+- years ago an ice age was predicted. We have to look back hundreds of years and measure the change over great amounts of time. I see addressing this issue as important but not as one that “the sky is falling.”
      You mention a one meter sea level rise – how long will it take to get to one meter of change of sea level? I believe, that within the laws of nature it could be 75-100 years at the earliest and quite possibly 500-1000, or we never even reach that in so many years. I love the Earth, the “Garden Planet” (Thomas Berry) and I have planted trees my whole life to help the planet. I want LAs to leave a legacy for another 1 million years. We need to return back to the Earth in a personal way, and with a dignity and integrity. We have to make slow and steady progress – together, like the growth of a giant Oak. This is not a poorly-crafted socialistic political issue.

  10. Cara Scohy 03/01/2019 / 3:23 pm

    While I do believe that we need to design, plan and develop responsibly in order to be good stewards of our environment, I also believe that our profession depends on a thriving, robust economy.

    Our profession should be leading the discussion on intelligent (emphasis on intelligent), practical, and realistic ways to address environmental concerns and the responsible use of resources rather than endorsing garbage legislation like the GND. This would have a catastrophic effect on our economy and country if ever implemented and was drafted by a people who clearly have zero understanding of how things work in the real world.

    The ASLA’s endorsement of the GND indicates that you care more about political posturing than having a meaningful discussion. As one of the other comments stated, “aligning with insane political notions undermines our credibility”. I will also be reconsidering my affiliation with the ASLA.

  11. Ricardo Hinkle, RLA, ASLA 06/26/2019 / 9:52 am

    I am astonished by the lack of vision, imagination, understanding, information and awareness demonstrated by fellow ASLA members and Landscape Architecture readers, who wrote to express hostility to the Green New Deal. Would they have been such naysayers during FDR’s efforts to implement the original New Deal?

    The GND, like its Depression-era predecessor, is primarily a jobs and economic stimulus plan, one that will revolutionize and transform our energy production, distribution and transportation infrastructure, to phase out fossil fuel burning and clean the environment.

    How does that not but help and expand our profession enormously??

    Even the original New Deal had a huge ecological component. Born of the environmental cataclysm known as the “Dust Bowl”, the New Deal included numerous provisions for sustainable farming, land and soil conservation, and habitat restoration.

    Far from job killers, environmental protections are actually proven job creators! They merely slow down or prevent greedy and rapacious profit-first capitalist impulses. It’s the profiteers of the world who are the job killers!

    To reverse course in our current climate crisis, which is an environmental emergency like none other in earth’s history, we must pursue revolutionary alterations to energy and manufacturing systems NOW! The stable climate that has fostered the development of human civilization for thousands of years, not to mention the nurturing all of the plant and animal communities and habitats around the world, is about to give way to a continually accelerating over-heating of our planet. This will lead to mass plant and animal extinctions, and the gradual dissolution of human civilization. Floods, heat waves and droughts, will kill agricultural viability over growing parts of the world. Sea level rise will send tens, if not hundreds, of millions of climate refugees scrambling across the globe, creating further instability.

    Tipping points that will prevent us from solving this problem some time in the distant future are fast approaching – faster than ever imagined. Once the carbon under the permafrost regions of our planet start to be released in increasingly rapid succession – IT’S OVER!

    The Green New Deal is just the start of this country’s long overdue response to this cataclysm, which is not a maybe, not a possibility, but a CERTAINTY if we do nothing.

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