As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, September 19, 2008

Green Jobs As An Economic Savior For California

We're all still choking on the speed and enormity of the trillion-dollar bailout about to be given to executives on Wall Street instead of to homeowners who got snookered into teaser rates and ARMs. It's important to note that there is another way on this. Faced with a collapse of the financial markets in the 1930s, the solution was not seen in paying off the investor class for the bad decisions they've made, but paying workers to produce and create, and building up the backbone of the economy again, allowing prosperity to trickle up instead of down. We are at another crossroads across the nation and in California, and yet the answer is so clear. We have an imminent fight to mitigate the effects of global warming, and whoever solves this puzzle will not only save the world trillions in collateral damage from the disastrous fallout, but make a tidy profit besides. In fact, as a recent study has shown, the effort here in California will unquestionably improve the long-term prospects for the economy.

Costly as it may seem, California's mandate to cut climate-altering exhausts from vehicles and industry by nearly one-third in the next 12 years actually will boost the economy, a state analysis released Wednesday predicts.

The improvements in fuel and energy efficiency and extra clean-technology jobs needed to achieve the required 30 percent emissions reduction would result in a net household savings of $400 to $500 a year and a net 0.2 percent or $4 billion gain in the total annual output of goods and services, according to the report.

The view that says we have to freeze short-term cash outlays to stop the catastrophic effects of climate change ought to be discredited on this of all days as reductivist and shortsighted. The cost of the kinds of damage you would see from a sustained rise in global temperature is so astronomical that investing in green technology is incredibly efficient in the long run. And it's a jobs program to boot:

Most sectors of the economy, including transportation and warehousing, agriculture, forestry, manufacturing and construction, would by 2020 see moderate increases in employment and production as a result of investing in the more expensive but efficient building designs, lighting, vehicles and equipment, the study said.

The major exception would be the electric power companies that would experience about 16 percent less production and about 14 percent fewer jobs.

Which of course would be more than offset by the increase in jobs in the same sector through solar and wind and biomass and tidal and geothermal production.

The financial mess puts into stark relief the need for a long-view approach to the economic future. Investments that seem unaffordable now hold massive potential in just a few short years. We have to be bold and become the center for green jobs in the United States and around the world. In uncertain times, it's the only way to secure California's future.

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