Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The Green-Collar Solution

This is a really good column (thanks to Bru Notes for posting) from Thomas Friedman about an African-American activist in California who is also an environmentalist. He also carries a law degree from Yale, so he's not your typical guy. As an activist living in a poor area of color, he has a unique perspective on environmental and global warming issues. The growing movement surrounding global warming has many hurdles in front of it. One that I haven't thought of until I read this, is that part of the problem is that the movement is led by upper-class white guys like Al Gore. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I'm not trying to start a class war and Gore and co. have certainly done a ton concerning this issue.

But as Van Jones points out, people in Oakland who don't have jobs and live in an environment of fear, crime and poverty, have much more pressing concerns than melting glaciers or the fate of the polar bears. If we want to have any hope of tackling the global warming crisis, we have to get people from many different environments like this one on board. We can't just shoehorn them along with everyone else.

Also, some of the biggest beneficiaries of what Jones calls "green-collar jobs" (jobs created as a result of green environmental legislation) would be people from areas like Oakland. When many of America's manufacturing jobs were outsourced, there was no replacement for them. This left many people without an education with nothing to fall back on in terms of a long-term job. "Green-collar jobs" can help remedy that, as you can't send a building to China to be weatherized and have it sent back. You need American labor.

I find that I'm pretty much repeating verbatim what Mr. Jones said, but he says it much better than I could. So check out the article, it's worthwhile reading.

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