21 December 2008

Weekend Discussion: Green Jobs

NOTE: This post will stay here until Sunday night. Posts for Saturday and Sunday morning go below this post.

Dear Aguanauts,

Discussion posts allow you to discuss your beliefs on a topic -- to share your understanding, experience and opinions -- without worrying about what's right or what others think. (Check out last week's discussion on commodity water.) Most important, the discussion allows us to learn from each other. So...

Tell us your thoughts on government programs to create green jobs.

4 comments:

  1. shooting from the hip, I think this is a reasonably good idea - better than government programs to fight oil wars. Despite being a big greeny, and reading a couple of glossy web pages from the green jobs movement, I'm a little shaky on exactly what the movement and Obama really plan for this (my ill-informedness, or a failing of the outreach of the movement??) I'm guessing the implementation has large potential to dissapoint, with 'clean' coal, ethanol, etc benefiting. Ideas I think I like: funding research into truly clean, renewable energy and conservation. Funding job training programs for out of work people in green collar jobs - if said jobs involve renewable energy, conservation, etc - NOT coal, nuclear, conventional biofuels, etc. Alaska has some programs I think are in the right direction including renewable energy grants for projects that meet a rigorous review. There are also weatherization programs here for home owners and renters to improve their home energy efficiency (heat-wise). A big hang-up has been having enough home energy raters - they have had to train up a new crop, presumably using the state money for this program. This may be a good start...year 1: use money to train a huge number of home energy inspectors, and start a program to weatherize homes.

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  2. Like Roosevelt and the CCC, TVA, BOR, and other big projects, Obama may have to do something to not only get people working again, but rebuild our water/sewer infrastructure. But climate change dictates a new infrastructure as well--clean energy, restoration of watersheds, rivers, and oceans, converting our "car" culture from oil to renewable and undeveloped energy sources. Research and development abandoned by the Reagan administration into alternatives to fossil fuels needs to be brought forward and funded, and now that we are well into the "point of no return" for global warming, making up for the squandered thirty years will require more manpower and brainpower. Green jobs will require a new mindset, one that has been given a black eye for eight years, and one that conventional big business and King Corn probably will resist. It's easy to talk the talk, but will the money really flow the right way, or will it simply bail out the old industrial model? Starting off with a staggering debt and crashed economy don't bode well either. Michelle mentions home weatherization programs, most of which will have their budgets cut this year. Same goes for energy assistance, low income housing, food programs, and healthcare for the poor and elderly. Layoffs in the green sector here have already begun because state governments are in a budget crisis. Will there be any money left for all the great ideas after feeding and housing the newly homeless?

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  3. the government should stay out of the green job movement other than R&D. Every other intervention is just a waste of money. The State of California is in for a financial meltdown because it has tried to intervene in every action of its citizens. Enough!

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  4. I think this whole idea is bad economics. Now it's true I am not alarmed about GHG emissions and so that would obviously make me biased. Even so, the guys over at Env-Econ are also saying green jobs is "bogus" and they support a carbon tax (as far as I know).

    If you want to put on a carbon tax, or cap-and-trade etc., because of externalities, OK fair enough. But I think you're fooling yourself if you believe that slapping on constraints will somehow boost measured GDP. As Nordhaus' recent book title suggests, it's a question of balance. How much material output is it worth sacrificing in order to mitigate future climate change?

    The "green jobs" rhetoric is, in my opinion, an attempt to fool voters. If politicians reported results like Nordhaus--i.e. "yes we are going to sacrifice $x00 billion but we will spare our children $y trillion in damages"--then the measures wouldn't pass, at least not in the middle of a bad recession.

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