The green economy will provide a stimulus for job growth, but equally important is a nationwide green outreach program to curb America’s profligate energy consumption behavior.
I attended AASHE 2008, a conference for the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (http://www.aashe.org/). Attendees were all energized by Obama’s mantra for hope and change, which was a perfect platform for keynote speakers addressing the conference's theme: Working Together for Sustainability On Campus and Beyond. One keynote speaker that especially piqued my interest was Van Jones, an environmental activist whom I first became aware of in Thomas Friedman’s 2007 op-ed entitled The Green-Collar Solution. Mr. Jones is the founding leader of Green for All (http://www.greenforall.org/). In his own words: “The green economy has the power to deliver new sources of work, wealth and health to low-income people – while honoring the Earth.”
Mr. Jones’s energizing speech clearly outlined the key pillars it will take to build a green economy. Good stuff, especially how we need to repower America with clean energy. Van Jones is a strong supporter of eco-visionary Al Gore’s challenge for 100% renewable and clean energy within a decade. Yet it suddenly occurred to me that all the green economy solutions being proposed today are reactive in nature to an intolerable environmental situation. Equal focus needs to be placed on our profligate energy consumption behavior. One starting point would be to create community outreach programs complete with educational materials on how each one of us can reduce our daily consumption of energy. Think of what an economic stimulus this would be to our economy – trainers, implementation of educational materials (web-based or old fashion printed materials) and community centers that would conduct workshops. Sounds like job creation that would also helps us achieve Al Gore’s renewable energy vision.
One last thought. Listening to Van Jones’s speech in a room full of academics reminded me of a great line from Adam Gopnik’s book, Paris to the Moon. “Institutions instruct, parents teach.” My apologies for being candid, but it all begins in the home.
Remember to turn off the lights when you leave the room!