Reflections from the East Coast Tour

March 12, 2009 at 10:46 pm 1 comment

dsc_1294-1Penned by Nick

I just returned from a week on the East coast — Boston, New Haven, and New York — where I spoke with graduate students, local officials, and the NY Times about green jobs. The conversations were varied, but a few common themes emerged:

  • There’s a paucity of good information out there for those who want green jobs;
  • Strong federal support for green jobs has generated immense interest, but with few jobs available, many job seekers are starting to view this movement as a “shooting star”; and
  • Educational institutions are slow to evolve their curriculum to meet our environmental challenges.

Indeed, despite the warm reception we enjoyed on the East coast, the experience was slightly troubling. Nearly everyone I spoke with is just trying to “figure it out” — “it” being green jobs. How do we create them? How do we train people for them? And what will be their impact in the years ahead?

All good questions. And it’s important to think through the implications of pushing wind versus solar jobs, or a cap-and-trade system versus a carbon tax.
As I recently wrote, we’re nearing an inflection point in the environmental movement. Thomas Friedman observed that 2008 was, indeed, the year of change for the environment.

But these observations about the enormous opportunity in front of us run the risk of falling on deaf ears if people do not translate theory and talk into decisive action.

At a time when people are searching for meaningful careers, one of the most meaningful things people can do is act in the interest of the environment. Where there are no jobs, create them by becoming an entrepreneur.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Barry Wall  |  March 13, 2009 at 9:09 pm

    We at the University of Washington recently hosted a panel discussion on green jobs and our panelists agreed that it is a misconception that there are green jobs and non-green jobs. As environmental sustainability becomes more of an issue that we all face together, every job becomes more of a green job. So all jobs can be green jobs, and I guess it’s just a question of how bright green they are!


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