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Renewable Energy Jobs - What will it take to wear green?

WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO WEAR GREEN?What will it take to implement a green-jobs agenda?By Sarah KarlinBefore signing the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into

law, President Obama reminded Americans that the bill will not just boost

the country’s ailing economy but will help modernize the nation. “Because

we know we can’t power America’s future on energy that’s controlled by

foreign dictators, we are taking a big step down the road to energy

independence, and laying the groundwork for a new, green energy economy

that can create countless well-paying jobs,” Obama said.Environmentalists see the stimulus as an opportunity to spur a revolution

that will transform America’s old, gray, industrial economy based on coal,

oil, and other dirty fossil fuels, into one that runs on clean, renewable

energy. While green initiatives make up less than one-eighth of the

stimulus bill, the chatter is all about green jobs, green infrastructure,

and green energy. Green, green, green. But what exactly green jobs are and

how such an infrastructure can be implemented are some of many questions

that have yet to be answered.The green jobs movement saw a major victory in December 2007 when Congress

passed the Green Jobs Act as part of the energy bill. The act was supposed

to set aside up to $125 million to train workers for jobs in the clean

energy sector, but President Bush’s budget requested $0 for the initiative.

The issue gained increasing notoriety during the 2008 campaign with the

publication of Van Jones’ book The Green Collar Economy and his many moving

speeches, like his most recent one at Powershift this year. Jones founded

Green For All, a national organization dedicated to building a green

economy, and has laid out his vision for a “Green New Deal” that would

create programs and policies designed to fight both global warming and

urban poverty by creating millions of green jobs. With more than $80

billion dollars of the $787 billion economic recovery package going toward

investments in clean energy, the bill takes an important first step. Jones’

vision is still incomplete, but there are compelling reasons to take the

rest of the green-collar jobs movement seriously.Why go green?As the economy lags, some experts say that going green may be the best way

to revive our economy and save the planet. Climate scientists predict that

unless we curb global warming emissions, average U.S. temperatures could

increase by 3 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century. Global

warming has been linked to deadly heat waves, an increase in wildfires, the

spread of disease, and a host of public health and weather catastrophes.

And while the United States makes up only four percent of the world’s

population, the country is responsible for emitting 25 percent of the

world’s carbon dioxide pollution. Low-income communities and communities of

color also tend to be disproportionately affected by the negative impacts

of a high-carbon economy.President Obama’s Energy Secretary Steve Chu said that an environmentally

friendly, energy efficient economy is America’s only option in the fight

against climate change. In an article last month in The Root, Chu warned

that “without swift action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Americans

might see their way of life grind to a halt.”That news sounds even more dismal than today’s enormous economic crisis.

But the good news is that at last we have an Administration that is

determined to take the action necessary to address global warming. More

good news is that investing in environmentally friendly projects may be the

best way to put thousands of Americans back to work. According to the

Department of Labor the U.S. unemployment rate was 7.6 percent in January,

the highest in 16 years. But according to the Natural Resources Defense

Council’s analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Commerce,

investments in energy efficiency and renewable resources create mor