Saturday, September 17, 2011

Green Jobs

Nancy Folbre, an Economics Professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst, is one of the many people talking about the green jobs market. There has been a great deal of discourse lately as to whether or not Green Jobs really have potential, are affordable, or if the benefits even compensate for the costs. The Obama administration has tried to facilitate the creation of green jobs, and it seemed at times they presented it as a panacea to solve all of our unemployment and energy problems. While there have been recent, obvious failures, there are other programs in this direction expected to create a significant number of jobs. Renewable energies are still rapidly growing sectors of the green/clean economy. Though clean energies and technologies currently represent only a small slice of the economy, this industry is largely immature because companies can’t market to the consumers that would benefit most. The people who are going to have the real need for cleaner, and more efficient energy are the generations to come.

Nancy suggests that public policies could be a potential solution, such as taxing carbon emissions and adopting clean-energy standards. These policies would be used to better account for the hidden social costs of fossil fuel use and increase the demand for cleaner production, providing more incentive for private investors. While both of these proposals are good, neither of these ideas are novel, as similar policies have been successful in Germany. Others have suggested that the economy is suffering because businesses aren’t spending, and that regulations requiring businesses to invest in cleaner production would help the economy. However, to be realistic, Republicans in congress could hardly be more resistant to any proposal entailing stricter environmental regulations. The Republicans have been quick to say that these regulations would only kill jobs by increasing costs of production, but can we afford to keep sacrificing our natural heritage and public health for the sake of job creation? There’s no easy answer because while jobs have monetary value, the true value of the environment, cannot so easily be appraised. Likewise, nor do we yet understand the full ramifications of our environmental procrastination.
--Garrett Sisson

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