Millions of Green Jobs? Beyond the Fantasy

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling, always looking to bring you interesting cleantech reading, is proud to repost this article courtesy of partner Colorado Energy News. Author credit goes to Graham Russell.

In Part 1 we examined some of the Triple F rated dogma (fallacious, fanciful and fabricated) surrounding the notion that, with large amounts of taxpayer investment in clean technologies, we can quickly create a new “green” economy in the U.S. that will bring with it very large numbers of new jobs, revitalize U.S. manufacturing, and mitigate many of the energy and other resource constraints that continue to plague our economy. It simply isn’t going to happen that way despite the rhetoric of the pundits and hypsters.

However, there’s another way of looking at the critical question of how to address the resource constraints, environmental challenges (including climate change) and social issues that are the underlying impetus for all the current noise about creating a new, green economy. “Sustainability-based thinking” holds out a genuine promise that we can reduce our exposure to escalating energy and commodity prices, reverse the declining competitiveness of the American economy, and at the same time reduce environmental degradation and create a better world for future generations. What does THAT mean?

image via Shutterstock

It means that we need to learn to look at the way we do things in our companies with a super-critical eye on how to improve the efficiency with which we use ALL resources (not just energy), while at the same time reducing the negative impact we’re having on the natural and human environment in which we operate. To use a miserable cliché, it means looking “through a sustainability lens” in order to achieve Radical Resource Productivity.

In the past decade, many of the world’s largest corporations have discovered that sustainability-based thinking can be a powerful driver of innovation, competitive advantage and – to the astonishment of many old-school business leaders – improved financial results. In fact, many of the global giants, regardless of nationality, have made sustainability a key element of their corporate strategy.

A recent White Paper written by Davide Vassallo, Global Practice Leader, DuPont Sustainable Solutions, shows how sustainable business practices have generated billions of dollars for his company in energy savings. Other DuPont documents show how it has generated new revenues from products created or redesigned to address global sustainability challenges.

David Steiner, CEO of Waste Management, that dirty old trash hauler, says: “Picking up and disposing of people’s waste is not going to be the way this company survives long term. Our opportunities all arise from the sustainability movement.” WM is investing millions of dollars in new technologies focused on mining the estimated $10 billion of materials value contained in the stream of “waste” disposed of annually in its landfills.

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