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

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The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones is an interesting look at the current state of the environmental movement and the economy. It is written from a progressive viewpoint, and proposes some serious actions on the part of our government and individuals which, if acted upon, could solve two of our biggest problems.

The book includes a short history of the environmental movement, starting with early conservationists and preservationists like Gifford Pinchot and John Muir, through a regulatory phase spurred on by Rachel Carlson, author of Silent Spring, and into a newly emerging phase, which he calls an “Investment Agenda”.

During the new phase of the environmental movement, Jones says we need to meld equal protection, equal opportunity, and reverence for all creation into a new way of living, working and engaging with one another. Following these principles, with the government as a partner in removing barriers to green solutions, will put us on a road to both a more just, better world, and a better, more sustainable economy.

The book proposes a five-way partnership, a Green Growth Alliance between organized labor, social justice activists, environmentalists, students and faith-based organizations. Jones draws parallels with the civil rights movement and points out that we did not see Martin Luther King and other leaders marching out of shopping centers, libraries or high school gymnasiums. They marched out of churches. He suggests that having God on the side of the environment would add great power to the growing green collar economy.

One of the key points to this book is that many of the green collar jobs of the future are the same jobs we have now. Welders will fuse metal to create windmills rather than widgets; mechanics will work on electric motors alongside combustion engines; engineers will design wave powered generators instead of nuclear power plants. While some will require retraining or specialization, many workers can be assimilated directly into the green economy. That is a ray of hope in this economic environment.

The book closes with a focused set of recommendations for our political leaders, national and local. Let’s hope they take up the cause and go for the green!

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