The Truth About Green Jobs

This was co-authored by Ezra Drissman of the Green Careers Guides and ME; Your resident expert on Green Living!!

The green industry is all about saving money, jobs and the environment.  Similar to other industries, people analyze data and create innovative solutions for consumers. The main difference is green industries are producing energy saving ideas and products.

Recent reports had gasoline being more expensive to create and sustain than solar power technologies.  With advancements in solar projects – the U.S. has become an exporter of solar technologies.

There are those who claim that for every one green job created, three are lost.  This is an old way of thinking, and not the way to move an economy forward.

Even if this is the case; didn’t the same apply when phones became widespread?  One can imagine people complained that one phone took away three operator jobs; or, that one computer could do the same as 3 people.  However, all of this leads to one conclusion. Green industry is on the same growth curve, as computers and telecommunications.

Technology Emerging Is Like The Old Computers Of The 1960’s – 1970’s

When first created, desktop computers and later, laptop computers and cellular phones have unquestionably changed the way the world works.  As computers and batteries became faster and smaller, so did those respective devices. The growth of both industries helped spur economic growth by shared use of innovation, such as telephone and Internet.

In the span of 30 years, the computer and cellular phone industries have each become trillion dollars.  By the same standard, the first green technologies were slow, bulky and ugly.  In most accounts, green technology is still in its infancy.  Remember the old cellular phones and their lead acid batteries?  Now, we have small lithium based batteries and thin phones, laptops and personal computers.

Imagine, going into a computer room prior to the desktop.  They took up the entire room!  Fast-forward and one can only imagine where we will be.  Instead of having the whole roof taken up by solar panels; now it’s only an eighth of the size with comparable effectiveness, and completely independent of the electric company.  The green energy industry has the ability to revolutionize the way energy is created and transported.

Another point: why are green jobs being held to a different standard than other industries?  When comparing energy costs, the entire cost of production must be calculated.  While a wind farm’s initial cost may be higher, the long-term cost of energy production is lower. Fueling the plant is free since it is fueled by nature -wind.  While a coal or natural gas plant, fuel costs can fluctuate based on the cost of the commodity.

Finally, there has been much talk of late regarding the electric car industry and how the cars do not have range.  We use to say that about cellular phones and cordless drills.  As the battery technologies have improved so have the range of our electric cars and powered products.  Technological innovations will drive our transportation, computer and other battery based technologies forever.

Iowa Has Got The Wind; Duh

Iowa is a prime example, and has for many years tried to let the best form of energy win.  Currently, it produces 20% of its total power from wind.  The wind industry is a prime example of green technologies winning, over non-green counterparts.

This basic economic point is often forgotten.  Jobs are not lost during a green revolution — they are changed.  It didn’t take long to realize that the modern telephone and cell-phone is an amazing tool that can be utilized to create better and stronger industries.  Just because one business fails, doesn’t mean others will also.  Critics of green jobs point to Evergreen Solar as the poster child for how “green jobs” are destroying the economy.  It fails to recognize that basic business principles still apply.  Businesses succeed and fail -Did people fault the car industry when Packard Motor Car Company failed?  The green industry is in its infancy and will succeed.  One thing that all businesses understand -innovation will always win.

Of all of the growing green industries, many have one common feature –Batteries.  Battery technology is the leading factor to the expansion of electric cars and cell phone.  Many states are now seeing major economic booms, due to the increase in battery companies.  Within this growing field, there is a need for qualified applicants to research and develop even better batteries.

Schools Can Use The Cost Savings Of Energy Efficiency – Ok, those are Green Jobs!!!

Green job and technology is a growing and lasting trend in industry.  One does not need to look at Washington for solutions, look to schools.  Most community colleges are at the forefront in educating the unemployed and underemployed.  More crucially they exist to train people for jobs that they can enter right away.  This is a growing indicator of a massive increase in green fields.  Community colleges now offer degrees in energy engineering, solar technician, wind technician and many other green fields.

As I wrote in a story for Greenopia:

When you think that green jobs COST money, here is what the Feds are saying (specifically, the 2010 Green Jobs report by the US Commerce Department):

1.  The gross domestic product of our economy rose by 1-2% from the green economy.  This means that products which reduced pollution or saved energy was part of the increase of our countries GDP.

2.  From 2003 – 2007 (the years they gauged) jobs rose by 1.8 – 2.4 million (conservative and liberal estimates).

3.  The service sectors showed the largest job gain.  13% of the total job increase was due to green service related jobs.

4.  This means, “between $371 billion to $516 billion of private sector shipments were from the Green economy.”

5.  While it was modest, 3% of the total growth to construction was due to green jobs.

In addition, based on these estimates and given the $90 billion the United States Government is investing in the green economy

In 1977, the first desktop computer was marketed, and by our 2011 standards was junk.  Today, like the computers in the 80’s, many of these industries were laughed at.

No one seems to be laughing at Steve Jobs or Bill Gates now!

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