One hopes that when it comes to issues like global warming, it’s not always the case that we have to be forced to take action instead of acting preemptively. Unfortunately for our economy, it seems that is the case with green jobs. But the good news is that it’s looking like we’re on track–finally.
With the recent economic problems that the United States (and frankly, the world) has been having, it’s a no-brainer that we need some fundamental changes in the way we do business. That’s where this elusive term “green jobs” comes in. Idealistically, many of us would be ecstatic to see things like factory farming, mountaintop removal coal mining and over-production of gas-guzzling cars cease to exist altogether, but it’s not quite that easy. But what will hopefully happen is the gradual overhaul of our energy and transportation systems to simultaneously create jobs, green our infrastructure and therefore boost our economy.
But the flailing economy is not the only catalyst for the (hopefully) upcoming green jobs revolution. Activist and writer Van Jones has brought this once fringe issue into the public eye, explaining (very eloquently, I might add) just how green job creation will work, beyond the vague and idealistic rhetoric that came before him.
And, as if activists everywhere weren’t happy enough after the nomination of Barack Obama for president, one of his first actions as president-elect has been to prosthelytize about green jobs as a part of the economic stimulus package he is planning for when he takes office. There’s talk of a $150 billion plan for green jobs. Also, green jobs councils are popping up all over the country, including many of the big players in business.
The latest announcement of a green jobs council, spearheaded by Wal-Mart (bless them for trying, at least in the environmental arena), includes some renewable companies and some not-so-renewables. Some key players so far are BP Solar, GE, HydroPoint Data Systems and others, and they plan to meet in early 2009 to discuss their plans further.
Some criticism has come to these green jobs plans as people claim that green jobs will be replacing the jobs of the less-green companies, such as mining, dirty manufacturing, etc. I’m sure Van Jones has a fantastically eloquent response to this, but so far what we’ve been hearing is that “gradual” is the key word, and that many of the jobs created will be to increase efficiency of our current systems, rather than replace them. So buildings and cars as well as transportation and sewage infrastructure will all be overhauled to be more efficient and cleaner, which will take more manpower than what we’ve got.
And perhaps best of all, this provides us with a great opportunity to debunk the myths that environmentalism and a booming economy are mutually exclusive. For all of those folks who are guilty of “environmental laws are limiting our economic growth” tirades, the next 10 years of green jobs are for you.