Struggling over Green Jobs Semantics

February 19, 2009 at 5:44 pm 1 comment

dsc_1294-1Penned by Nick. Published last Friday on

In an article entitled “Will Green Jobs Become the New Greenwash?”, Joel Makower asks the reader:

“Could it be deemed a good thing that everyone is talking about green jobs, even though they don’t necessarily know what that means? Or do we need standards and definitions that help us gauge how well we’re really doing? ”

The semantic question is important to answer, though in no way essential for us to define a “green job.” A number of forces are coming together to put under the microscope the true meaning of green jobs, and what potential — economically, environmentally and socially — they might hold.

Redefining “Prosperity”

In the United States, Joel’s question exposes a unique challenge. In the U.S., we “live to work” as opposed to “work to live.” This way of life’s being questioned as greater environmental challenges mount and force us to reconsider our long-term priorities and what we’re actually working toward. There’s a cultural undercurrent that’s disrupting, defying and eschewing conventional definitions as we meet our generational challenge: global warming. Is economic success alone enough anymore, or does it lose relevance as the ability to enjoy a comfortable life is threatened by resource shortages, dramatic weather events and increasing insecurity in what the future will look like for people’s children and grandchildren?

The potential people see in green jobs — and perhaps the root of all the hype and potential for greenwashing — is to finally find balance and synergy between their personal, professional and public lives. “Doing well while doing good,” so to speak, is evolving into the next iteration of the American dream.

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