People talk about how increased retail consumption will lead to the trickling down of wealth to the underprivileged. This old, scrap-off-our-table approach to economics not only doesn’t work but it’s wrecking the planet by wasting its resources.
But one of the priorities adopted by Saturday’s Step It Up 2007 national action on climate change–together with 80% greenhouse gas emission reduction and a moratorium on coal power stations–is the creation of 5 million green jobs for low-income communities. With green job initiatives, we can work to solve the environmental problem and the poverty problem at the same time.
As the Step It Up website says: “An economy that relies on green energy needs green jobs. As investments catalyze the growth of a new, clean energy economy, we are finally ready to replace the old debate of “jobs vs. the environment” by investing in “jobs for the environment.””
According to the New York Times‘s Thomas Friedman, Van Jones, head of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights in Oakland, California:
…has been on a crusade to help underprivileged African-Americans and other disadvantaged communities understand why they would be the biggest beneficiaries of a greener America. It’s about jobs. The more government requires buildings to be more energy efficient, the more work there will be retrofitting buildings all across America with solar panels, insulation and other weatherizing materials. Those are manual-labor jobs that can’t be outsourced.
“You can’t take a building you want to weatherize, put it on a ship to China and then have them do it and send it back,” said Mr. Jones. “So we are going to have to put people to work in this country —weatherizing millions of buildings, putting up solar panels, constructing wind farms. Those green-collar jobs can provide a pathway out of poverty for someone who has not gone to college.”
That Step It Up 2007 has adopted the green job priority as part of its plan to combat global warming is just another reason to join in the local events around the United States on Saturday. New York City’s rally will be from noon till 2PM in Washington Square Park. Find your own local rally here.