Someone help me puzzle this out: Proposition 1: A shift to renewable energy and energy efficiency will result in a boom in green-collar jobs -- good service-industry work that can't be outsourced. This proposition is attractive because it holds forth the promise of a grand alliance between greens and the labor movement. See, e.g., Tom Friedman and everyone who posts on Grist. Proposition 2: The optimism over green-collar jobs is a classic example of the make-work bias, a widespread economic fallacy that mistakes amount of work for wealth creation. The actual effect of greenhouse-gas reductions on labor markets is unclear, so environmentalists should stick to environmental policy. See, e.g., various environmental economists. I don't have a clever opinion here, although I will say that the case for a positive labor impact from energy efficiency measures seems decently solid. Efficiency is, after all, an unambiguously good thing for the economy as a whole. If it costs us less to get the same amount of stuff, we're all richer. Certainly this is a nice thing for consumers, and because energy industries tend not to be labor-intensive, we can expect that wealth creation at the expense of energy producers will be a net benefit for employment as well. I think. The impact of renewable energy, on the other hand, is more difficult to suss out. More to the point, it's not clear that anyone has sussed it out. Discuss.
The Tennessee state Senate has passed a resolution honoring Al Gore for his efforts to curb climate change. And the crowd goes wild! “Let’s be honest about it. What is a resolution but a piece of paper with flowery words on it,” says House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower, adding that the resolution “has no real meaning other than whatever meaning it has to him when he hangs it on his wall.” Feel the enthusiasm!
Bit of a dodge on global warming, no?
The following essay is a guest post by Kari Manlove, fellows assistant at the Center for American Progress. ----- CNNmoney.com just released a summary outlook on the solar, wind, biofuel (mainly ethanol), and efficiency industry financial sectors. The two looking most optimistic are wind and efficiency, and thus both sectors are overflowing with opportunity. According to one investment portfolio manager, efficiency investments are reliable and essentially fundamental. In his words, investing in efficiency is like putting your money on the arms dealer in a war or conflict -- no matter which side wins (or which sector), the arms dealer simply can't lose.
The famous Iditarod sled dog race is undergoing permanent changes as organizers cope with urban sprawl and a warming climate. For the ceremonial start to the competition on Mar. 1, racers will travel 11 miles instead of the traditional 18 miles. The race itself will kick off Mar. 2 from Willow, Alaska, 30 miles north of the traditional starting town of Wasilla. Says Stan Hooley of the Iditarod Trail Committee, “A lot of development in the area makes [Wasilla] less desirable, and there have been less-than-winter conditions.” And that’s no way to race a sled, dawg.
"If there's no action before 2012, that's too late. What we will do in the next two to three years will determine our future. This is the defining moment."-- Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change If these words don't get you off your butt, you better check and make sure you have a pulse. Yet what can we (everyday Americans, readers of Grist) do now, today, that will be strong enough to change the course of our future? Strong enough to overcome the powerlessness and denial gripping our country? It is clear that we are standing at a critical moment in human history. Unless we begin to cut global-warming pollution within a few short years, a window for our children and the creatures of this earth will close. Forever. Instead of stabilizing at 3 to 4 degrees F more warming, the best our kids will be looking at will be more than 5 degrees F. And every 10th of a degree matters, because it raises the possibility that we might trigger some catastrophic outcome -- massive sea-level rise, loss of forests globally driven by intensified fire, or large-scale methane releases from the tundra, pushing temperatures even higher. Today, cutting emissions on the scale required in the United States seems barely possible. Our nation is, truly, paralyzed. Yet this is a peculiarly American kind of paralysis, one we all understand from high school civics. Our system of government, with its checks and balances, was designed for gridlock, allowing an organized minority to block movement toward change. And yet we all also learned how we overcome this gridlock. When our government fails, Americans set aside their everyday business and drive the country in a new direction. From abolition to women's suffrage, labor rights to civil rights to anti-war causes, again and again, social movements reclaim the moral vision at the heart of America and set a new course for the country. Over the next year, a powerful, nonpartisan movement demanding global-warming solutions will sweep across this country and change the future, change our future. Or it won't. Each of us now has to decide: Will I be a leader in that movement? The science is clear. Our future will be determined, literally, by the readers of this post, who have heard the truth and have said yes -- or will say yes -- to this challenge. And unlike our forbearers, we are not threatened by dogs, fire hoses, blacklisting, firing, beating, torture, imprisonment, or lynchings. We are free (if we choose) to create the future. Here is how today, this week, you can lead:
As expected, Britain has announced that it will push forward with a new generation of nuclear-power plants, to supplement other low-emission energy sources as a means of fighting climate change. Nuclear operators say they can get stations running by 2017. Britain gets about 18 percent of its electricity from nuclear power; radioactive waste is currently stored at an “interim” aboveground facility, and the government has vague plans to build underground caverns as a permanent storage site. The country will not subsidize new nuclear-plant construction, but may streamline the planning process, identify possible sites, or offer tax advantages. The issue of …
An argument often heard in the fruitlooposphere* is that the scientific community has financial incentive to push the consensus view that humans are responsible for climate change. The idea is that toeing the consensus line translates into more research funding. There is, of course, never any evidence presented with this argument. Rather, it is presented as "common sense": "Well, of course they're just trying to get more funding ..." So let's apply a little common sense and see how the argument fares. First, consider that the scientific community has been saying for several years that our understanding of the climate system is quite good. Not perfect, mind you, but good enough that many scientists feel we should be taking action now to reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions. Based on the strength of this conclusion, many politicians have started saying "the science is settled." Does that sound like a recipe for getting lots of research funding? Saying that we have a pretty good understanding of the climate system?
First CFLs cause migraines. Then they worsen skin conditions. Now they frig with the frequency of TV remotes. O brave new world …
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