Saturday, October 25, 2008

Book Review: The Green Collar Economy

Elisa at MotherTalkers sent me a PDF copy of a new book called The Green Collar Economy by Van Jones to review and tell you about. Because Elisa occasionally kicks me the phat traffic, I try to do what she says.

Unfortunately, there was a small matter of a huge wedding that interfered with my reviewing this book in what could be called a "timely manner," and without one iota of help from me, this book has already hit the New York Times Bestseller list (as I write this, it's #31). Since I'm not one to turn down a free read, though, even if it does mean sitting in front of my computer for hours and hours, I am going to go ahead and tell you all about it, beloved readers...

I was only a few pages into this book when the following paragraph leaped off of the page and grabbed me by the throat:
Right now, we are still scurrying about on our planet's surface, eking out of living as part of a vulture society - living off the dead. Out of the Earth we suck the liquefied remains of dead organisms. We burn our ancestors' remains in our engines, without ceremony. Then we go back to the Earth, like vampires, to suck out even more oil. Our coal-fired power plants munch daily on the black bones of the ancients-and belch out death. Today, the climate itself threatens to bring everything full circle: if we keep pulling death from the ground, we will reap death from the skies.

But rather than spend 200+ pages berating us for our abuse of the planet, Van Jones presents a plan for saving our economy AND the planet. Through solar power, wind turbines, and turbines in the sea, and by tapping into the heat below the earth's surface, Jones suggests that we can create green jobs (that are not ever going to be farmed out to Mexico or China), revitalize the economy, and start saving the planet.

Jones suggests that the government needs to launch an initiative similar to the Manhattan Project to jumpstart research and investment into green, renewable energy production. He explains why ethanol and nuclear energy are false solutions, in clear concise language.

I think the best news in this book is that these new "green collar" jobs will be filled by people who used to have "blue collar" jobs in the 20th century. The skill sets for repairing a gas engine and an electric engine are relatively the same. The folks who worked at factories (now closed) making steel and cars and trucks can be retrained to make solar panels and windmills and turbines to put in the seas. We can take the "fundamentals of our economy," as McCain put it, and put them back to work improving the environment - and if those guys and girls are back at work, our economy will rebound. Everyone wins.

Ok, I'll admit, I've only had time to read the first chapter... but it's a good book already, with good ideas that deserve serious consideration. Let me know what you think in the comments!

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