Special to The Green Register by Kyle Crider, Manager – Environmental Operations, Ecotech Institute
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." ~George Washington
Recently Alabama passed a law banning sustainable development. Meanwhile, Virginia lawmakers are ordering politically-offensive words like "sea level rise" and "climate change" expunged from a $50,000 study to determine the impacts of climate change on the state's shores. (I can see the title of the report now: "The Report on That Which Must Not Be Named.") North Carolina appears poised, as comedian Stephen Colbert derisively put it, to pass legislation that makes sea-level rise illegal. But first there was Tennessee, which earlier this year passed a law prohibiting teachers from being punished for discussing the "scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses" of global warming and evolution—in other words, question established science, not current authority.
Unfortunately, this retreat from reason doesn't stop at the state level. Green jobs and sustainability have been tied to the Congressional whipping post, and even the President is afraid to mention climate change when he faces the nation. Yet the government's own labor statistics, in addition to recent reports from organizations including one of Washington's oldest think tanks, show that green jobs have been growing, even in this recessionary period.
Meanwhile, some of the world's foremost scientists are warning that if we don't start acting more sustainably soon, the Earth is nearing dangerous "tipping points" that could make our current economic and environmental woes look like the good old days. In other words, green jobs are needed not only to save the economy—they are needed to save the planet.
At Ecotech Institute—the first and only college entirely focused on preparing graduates for careers in the fields of renewable energy and energy efficiency—we know a thing or two about green jobs. First off, if green jobs weren't real—both present and profitable—we wouldn't be in this business, precisely because we are a business. Unlike community colleges, our accrediting agency holds us to very high placement standards for our graduates. So we do our homework regarding local job availability and trends long before we ever propose a course of study.
But these jobs won't always be there, if government continues to play politics with science and sustainability. When Karl Rove, adviser to former President George W. Bush, calls for an extension of federal wind energy tax credits, you can bet it is because this supports U.S. jobs and reduces dependence on foreign oil—not because it is simply labeled green.
So please educate your elected representatives about the importance of green jobs. Indeed, you may wish to use the term "clean tech jobs," rather than green jobs. Unfortunately, sustainability has, by government decree, been reduced to a four-letter word, so we can all join Kermit in singing "It's not easy being green." America is in danger of abdicating our leadership role in many of the very clean technologies that we pioneered. The current anti-science rhetoric in government is not only hurting our economic bottom line, it's hurting our world standing. True patriots stand up for what is good for this country, and green is red, white, and blue.
"I was bold in the pursuit of knowledge, never fearing to follow truth and reason to whatever results they led, and bearding every authority which stood in their way." ~Thomas Jefferson
Kyle Crider is Manager – Environmental Operations at Ecotech Institute and Education Corporation of America. He holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a double-emphasis in Urban Planning & Policy Analysis. He is also a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional, Neighborhood Development (LEED AP ND). He is currently in the Interdisciplinary Engineering Ph.D. Program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not necessarily those of Ecotech Institute or Education Corporation of America. Email Kyle at firstname.lastname@example.org