AOC's Green New Deal is proof that environmentalists can't do math

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ed Markey’s, D-Mass., proposed Green New Deal, which aims to overhaul the entire U.S. economy and "achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions" within the decade, offers pie-in-the-sky goals ranging from the merely impractical to the physically impossible.

Consider the math when looking at a few of the Green New Deal's unrealistic demands.

5 billion new windows?

The plan calls for retrofitting "all existing buildings in the United States" with state-of-the-art technologies such as energy-efficient windows. There are roughly 100 million commercial, residential and industrial buildings in the United States. If each has 50 windows, on average -- single-family homes might have fewer panes, but skyscrapers have thousands -- that's 5 billion windows we'd need to replace.

Assuming a two-man team of workers can replace two windows per hour, and they work 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year for a decade (sorry guys, no vacation, the planet needs you!) we'd need 240,000 laborers -- more than the population of Richmond, Virginia -- just to install new windows.

A nationally run high-speed rail network

Then there's the equally ludicrous goal of investing in high-speed trains. California has spent the past decade trying to construct a single high-speed rail line. Gov. Gavin Newsom announced recently plans to dramatically scale back the project, which is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

Even if we could build a national high-speed rail network, it'd still be a catastrophically bad idea. In a few years, Amtrak will unveil next-generation trains that can travel 160 mph. Assuming these trains made no stops and traveled in a straight line at max speed,  it would take over 15 hours to get from Los Angeles to New York City. Is that really “high speed?”

Glass half full?

Even if all these changes were enacted today, the Green New Deal would still fail to meet its targets. Even the most overly optimistic analysis -- put together by scientists at Stanford University, UC Berkeley and elsewhere -- conclude that the United States wouldn't be able to shift to 100-percent renewable energy before 2055, a quarter-century past the Green New Deal's deadline.

But even that target is likely unreachable. In a Publications of the National Academy of Sciences article, 21 leading climate researchers recently warned that the professors’ projections contained errors, unreasonable assumptions, and relied heavily on technology that hasn't proven effective on a large scale. The authors concluded that such a transition could cause massive economic turmoil, in part because wind farms and solar plants only generate electricity on windy, sunny days.

So utility companies would have to store massive amounts of electricity for use at night and on calm days. Storing that much renewable energy isn't even possible due to limitations in current battery technology.

Real-world examples

Of course, we don't need to rely on future projections to see why the Green New Deal is misguided. A look at recent real-world experiments with renewable energy offers plenty of stark warnings.

In 2011, then-Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law requiring California utilities to boost their reliance on renewables by 2020. By 2017, Californians were paying roughly 50 percent more for electricity than the rest of the country.

Germany's attempt to generate 80 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2050 has yielded similar results. The country's electricity prices have been the highest in Europe since 2013.


The Green New Deal is laughably unrealistic. If lawmakers implemented even a tenth of the plan, it would destroy the U.S. economy and impoverish tens of millions of people.

Drew Johnson is a Senior Fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.