Green Jobs

The current Sierra magazine has some interesting and encouraging information that should allow us to bury the myth about how pursuing clean energy will cost the country jobs and how we should continue to support dirty energy “where the jobs are.” Bollocks! Let me quote a part of the brief article directly. (If you want detailed information about the study referred to you can go to this link:

“For years the dirty energy industry has warned of massive job losses if the nation switches to clean energy. It’s dead wrong. Max Wei, Shana Patadia, and Daniel Kammen of the University of California at Berkley reviewed 15 recent studies of the job-creation potential of various energy sources and found that renewables generate more jobs per unit of energy delivered than do fossil fuels.”

The article then gives a chart showing the comparisons between the clean energy industries and the dirty energy industries that is quite striking. It reveals that the clean energy industries create 62.74 jobs per megawatt of energy produced as contrasted with the dirty energy industry that only produce 25.7 jobs per megawatt. The contrast is remarkable; clean energy is led by the solar photovoltaic industry which produces 32.71 jobs per megawatt — more than the dirty energy industry taken all together. The jobs in both categories are in construction, manufacturing, installation, and maintenance.

The “clean” energy industries include not only solar photovoltaic but “concentrating solar,” wind, and geothermal. The “dirty” energy industries studied include nuclear, coal, and natural gas. It should be noted that the latter three industries are currently being touted by politicians and the industry itself as “cleaner” than ever because coal has become “clean,” which is not strictly true; nuclear is touted as clean because it doesn’t produce heat — while it produces toxic waste that cannot be disposed of safely and always poses the threat of a meltdown; and natural gas is regarded as clean despite the fact that it is now obtained by “fracking,” a process that uses thousands of gallons of precious water which becomes contaminated and cannot be purified and reused afterwards. So, despite the attempts to pull the wool over out eyes, the word “dirty” is indeed appropriate when applied to these industries.

The fact that the Republicans are nearly united in their opposition to clean energy can only be accounted for by the fact that Big Oil makes such huge profits they can afford to dole out the big bucks to curry political favors, whereas the clean energy industry does not. But I do think that despite the likes of the Koch brothers and their friends clean energy will become the main source of energy in the future in this country and one must wonder when the oil and gas companies will climb aboard. Surely they see the handwriting on the wall?

In any event, let us have a moment of silence in memory of another dead myth. After that moment has passed we can spend another moment wishing like hell that the Congress will get its act together sooner rather than later and throw its support behind a collection of industries that have this sort of job potential. Talk about helping the economy — and the earth at the same time!

7 thoughts on “Green Jobs

  1. Well said, Hugh! I think this also touches on of the questioners was driving toward at the second presidential debate, and both Romney and Obama ducked it — Big Oil is not just scraping by year after year, but is, each year, setting new profit records. And these are some of the largest companies in the world. (In 2010, eight of the top 10 on the Fortune Global 100 were oil/energry companies). Clearly, we don’t need to be paying as much as we do now at the pump — they could cut the price in half and still be extremely profitable. But, more, they rake in so much money as to be extremely powerful politically. Dangerously powerful.

    We need to have continued pressure from voices like yours, and the rallying of good people who see the sense — the need — for clean energy. Enough pressure in the right cause can overcome even the worst brutes, like the Kochs.

  2. I have never understood why our current “energy” companies have not jumped all over the clean energy process. Why have they not bought up each and every company out there? Why don’t they already own every solar panel maker, every battery maker out there? Wind energy pretty much belongs to GE, but the rest is an open field.

    It would seem that a smart management team would recognize that oil is a finite resource, that an end is coming, and that it would behoove them to already be on the next, best thing. Oil demand is going to continue to decrease, becuase of the increasing mileage requirement of cars, and conversions of power plant to natural gas. Only slightly less dirty, overall. I’m at a loss for such short term thinking.

    • I agree with Barney: it’s time for the dirty energy companies to climb aboard. It is inevitable and there is much money to be made in clean energy. They will eventually figure that out! Thanks for reading.


  3. Well said Hugh. Great post. Let me add one troubling correction to the article you cited. It takes 4 to 6 million gallons of water to frack per well, not thousand of gallons. This shows we need to be even more cautious with our water deployment. I like the date presented as it is very compelling to the real arguments. Of course, per the Oil/ Gas mouthpiece, the fact checkers don’t matter. Thanks, BTG

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