Excerpt :: The Green Collar Economy

The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems

by Van Jones

Harper Collins, 2008,
256 pages, $25.95

Go to your local bookstore or
buy online


The following is an excerpt from the introduction to the book:

The “green” in “green-collar” is about preserving and enhancing environmental quality—literally saving the Earth. Green-collar jobs are in the growing industries that are helping us kick the oil habit, curb greenhouse-gas emissions, eliminate toxins, and protect natural systems. Today, green-collar workers are installing solar panels, retrofitting buildings to make them more efficient, refining waste oil into biodiesel, erecting wind farms, repairing hybrid cars, building green rooftops, planting trees, constructing transit lines, and so much more. California has shown that a state can still grow its economy while reducing the rise in greenhouse-gas emissions. The nation can do the same thing.

"Van Jones brought green jobs to the fore of the national consciousness. Now in The Green Collar Economy he sets forth his vision for a new American economy. His recommended national economic, jobs, and energy policy agenda presented in Chapter Six is an essential blueprint for the next U.S. administration."

-David Korten, author, The Great Turning, and board chair, YES! magazine.

The green economy should not be just about reclaiming thrown away stuff. It should be about reclaiming thrown-away lives. It should not just be about recycling materials to give things a second life. We should also be gathering up people and giving them a second chance. Formerly incarcerated people deserve a second chance in life—and all obstacles to their being able to find that second chance in the green sector should be removed. Also, our urban youth deserve a chance to be a part of something promising. Let’s honor across this nation the cry of youth in Oakland, California, for "green jobs, not jails. "

In other words, we should use the transition to a better energy strategy as an opportunity to create a better economy and a better country all around. In fact, we should see this whole process as a "break-up" situation. When you break up with your lover, it is tough at first. But the next weekend you start going to the gym, you quit smoking, you buy some new clothes. You can use the energy unleashed by one big change to change other things in your life for the better. Well, we in America are about to break up with oil. Why not break up with poverty and discrimination too?

If we decide to do that, we can do something extraordinary. We can connect the people who most need work to the work that most needs to be done—we can fight pollution and poverty at the same time.

We have the chance now to create new markets, new technology, new industries, and a new workforce. Let’s do it right—with good wages, equal opportunity, and pathways to success for those whom the pollution-based economy left behind.

Interested? More Van Jones videos and articles on the Green Economy.

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