One sees a lot of estimates these days as to how many “green jobs” will be generated in the U.S. by a shift away from fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy. Self-interested defenders of the status quo tend to come up with low numbers, while ecological enthusiasts predict lots of green jobs. Of course, it helps if everyone uses the same definitions, so we can applaud the Union of Concerned Scientists who have established a “renewable electricity standard” set at 25% by 2025. By this standard, they found, almost 300,000 new green jobs would be created. Job losses from fossilfuel industries would total about 100,000, so the net gain in jobs would be just over 200,000. This is three times as many jobs as would be produced if the country did not shift toward renewables from business as usual fossil fuels. This wide disparity in job creation is due to the high degree of mechanization of the mining sector. Today renewables do require more labor per unit of! energy than fossil fuels, hence could be considered inefficient. Until some future as yet undetermined date, the trade-off is jobs for dollars. In today’s economic environment, creating jobs is critical. However, advocates of green jobs need to keep in mind that all those green jobs may not last forever.
Would you dine out in a repurposed coal plant? Or play basketball in a community center that once emitted massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere? Or meet classmates on campus at the new union building that spewed out black smoke for years? Many of the folks who