Monday, October 05, 2009

"Greenprint" for America's future

I just finished reading The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones. It is "motivating" "inspiring" "a call to action" and clearly demonstrates how the twin problems environmental and economic bankruptcy need to be solved together. This IS the guidebook for our generation.

I heard Van Jones give a 15 minute speech at a solar conference a couple years back and I was impressed. Having just read his book I am nearly awestruck. This is not just another green book banging on about kilowatts and megawatts for that see my recent post on Sustainable Energy, this is a book about healing our economy, our country and our planet. Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was the problem statement, this book clearly outlines the political side of the solution.

Van Jones grasps the concept that energy efficiency is our biggest, quickest win. It's not as sexy or high tech as solar panels and wind mills, but it provides the biggest economic benefit per buck. And for a country awash in unemployed people, adding insulation and calking windows provides solid employement opportunities (not to mention lower utility bills) for those without graduate on ramp to the new energy ecomony for the growing masses left behind in the fossil fueled economy--which he believes was epitomized in the "wake" of Hurricane Katrina.

The brilliance of the book is Van Jones's ability to see and express ways that disparate "interest groups" can band together, support each other and push for political solutions that are "good for all" as well as being "green for all". If the financial crisis of the last year (which was decades in the making) teaches us anything, it is that entirely selfish pursuits end up hurting us all (well okay all of us except the major bank CEOs apparently). Instead of that sort of thing (and the book came out before the bank "bailout" hit) Van Jones provides a message of unity and solidarity where we help each other while saving the planet. This is not a smooth road, there are powerful financial interests that profit from the fossil fuel industry and the status quo, and they will fight tooth and nail to continue their own profit growth at any human cost. In order to overcome such powerful interests we need to create the broadest possible alliance and build support at all levels of our society (students, environmentalists, religous/faith communities, labor, and social activits) to push for the business AND government based solutions that will retool our economy for the brighter, greener, fairer economy that we need to create. This is an all hands on deck problem and we need to find ways to awaken, engage and unite the citizens of the world to solve it.

Van Jones combines rhetorical flair with broad strategy, sensible policy solutions and inspiring examples of real world groups that are leading the way. It has inspired me to see that not only are our problems connected--we are all on this giant marble together--but that in order to save the planet we need to come together to develop solutions that benefit everyone around us.


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