by Eileen Weber
But the environment is one industry that continues to grow despite what happens on Wall Street. If it’s green, it’s growing. President Barack Obama has even carved out a nice section of his stimulus package to incorporate green jobs. With that kind of support, the trend may only continue.
In a New York Times article dated March 23rd, Heather Burns-DeMelo, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Alliance for Sustainable Enterprise and the Editor for this web site, said we should expect to see an increase in “green collar jobs” with the boost in environmental training and education.
"The government sector, including the EPA, is launching new programs that will make green-collar job training more available to the general public," Burns-DeMelo said. "Here in Connecticut, the state is funding the development and implementation of renewable energy training and a clean energy incubator through technical colleges, which are viewing this as an opportunity to change the way they are typically viewed by students, parents and the greater community."
She went on to say that for those interested in the field, there will be a lot of opportunity. "The future is bright for people interested in innovation," Burns-DeMelo said. "If you're willing to be a leader and to forge the way forward, while considering the mistakes and missteps of what's led us here in the first place, there has never been a better opportunity."
But she added, "If you're looking for an easy row to hoe, this isn't it. Change is happening on so many levels that remaining flexible, nimble and thirsty for acquiring knowledge are keys to success."
But for everyone else, success feels unattainable right now. According to a Gallup Poll dated March 25th, fewer than one in ten Americans consider this a good time to find a quality job. As recently as yesterday morning, the Associated Press noted the number of people claiming jobless benefits has increased for the tenth straight week.
It’s hard not to get a little depressed with news like that. But for those in the environmental market, it’s been smooth sailing. Many experts see the environmental field as a sure thing because it’s based on “free fuel." For wind and solar energy, two renewable sources readily available, that certainly applies.
In Friday’s Green Inc., The New York Times online environmental blog, the Union of Concerned Scientists submitted a report that showed a massive increase in the number of environmental jobs available in a little over 15 years. Based on the analysis, the group stated that “a federal standard requiring all utilities to obtain 25 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025 would create 297,000 new domestic jobs, save consumers $64.3 billion in lower electricity and natural gas bills, and reduce global warming pollution by 277 million metric tons a year.”
Jeff Deyette, an analyst with the group’s clean energy program, was quoted as saying, “There were three times as many jobs produced in renewable energy than there would be if we followed a business-as-usual path and used more fossil fuel generation.”
However, many experts argue that there is a flip side to the increase in renewable energy jobs. In a March 16th Green Inc. article, it was noted that job losses from “polluting industries like coal-fired power plants” would offset any employment gained in renewable energy. It was stated that the potential for good jobs to be created with sources like wind and solar were simply “over-hyped.”
Perhaps it’s true that we’re placing all our bets on the environmental field. Maybe the gain in renewable energy will simply break even with the loss in other fields. But, in the end, we’ll have a cleaner environment and a healthier population. We’ll simply be tipping the scale for the better rather than the worse. Isn’t that the real point?
Image courtesy of Gallup Poll.