Millions of Green Jobs? Well … NO!

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

Searching Google for “millions of green jobs” yields over 380,000 references. Every week there’s a new report showing how, if the U.S. plays its public policy cards right, we’ll soon be producing most of our energy from “clean”, renewable wind and solar sources, driving around in electric cars that will deliver power back to the grid, and living in super-energy-efficient homes.

Oh! and by the way, all of this will create millions of jobs for equipment installers and repairers and the U.S. will enjoy a renaissance in manufacturing where it will once again be a world leader with millions of high paying jobs making the kit this new green energy economy will demand.

greenjobs

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Promoting this type of vision has become convenient “lifeboat talk” for many segments of the political establishment, designed to encourage a dejected public at a time when the economy is barely growing, unemployment is the highest in decades, standards of living are falling and jobs are continuing to migrate overseas.

Worse, in an effort to force the pace at which this utopian green vision will become reality, tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer money are being shoveled into a wide range of frequently speculative technologies and even individual companies in the form of grants, loan guarantees, tax credits etc.

Precisely because the vision of “millions of green jobs” now equates to billions of dollars in grants and subsidies to support their development, all sorts of organizations with heavily vested interests in encouraging taxpayer support for green job development are conducting “research” on the topic and delivering projections of how many “green” jobs will be created if a certain set of public policies is implemented. Needless to say, the definition of a “green” job has been stretched every which way to suit the particular needs of whatever organization is doing the “research”. This has led to some quite  extraordinary projections and statistics.

One of the most fanciful (the word is used deliberately) green jobs reports was produced by the American Solar Energy Society in Boulder in 2009. It studied the number of jobs that will be created across the US in renewable energy and energy efficiency by the year 2030.

In estimating that Colorado alone will create – under the “moderate” scenario – 238,000 such jobs by 2030, the report suggested that the largest categories of new jobs created in these industries will be …….accountants and cashiers! It’s really hard to grasp the concept of a green cashier. Perhaps the logic is that, if I work stacking shelves in Safeway with organic food products and CFLs, I’m a green shelf stacker, whereas a few years ago I wasn’t green because the store didn’t sell organic foods and only sold incandescent lightbulbs.

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    • The author’s sole focus on green-jobs claims suggests a bias. After all, the same criticism that the numbers are bogus could be made of job claims made by the fossil-fuel crowd. In fact, if you want to talk about laughable job claims, the discussion ought to begin and end with the Keystone XL pipeline. Jon Huntsman said recently that it would lead to the creation of more than 100,000 jobs. But a Cornell study found that number to be a little on the high side — like, by 98,000 or so. And it’s no wonder, when among the 100,000+ jobs TransCanada has been claiming (and Republicans repeating) the Keystone XL would lead to were 51 dancers and choreographers, 138 dentists, 176 dental hygienists, 100 librarians, 510 bread bakers, 448 clergy, 154 stenographers, 865 hairdressers, 136 manicurists, 110 shampooers, 65 farmers and 1,714 bartenders.