This post originally appeared at Campaign for America’s Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture as part of the Making It In America project. I am a Fellow with CAF.
Last week the Washington Post ran an op-ed with the curious headline, “The Green Jobs Myth.”
Oil and coal lobbyists everywhere, well-aware that most people only read headlines and a few paragraphs at most, were giving each other high-fives. You see, a headline like this “propels the propaganda” that anything remotely environmentally-conscious “costs jobs.” And being in the Washington Post, it signals that the “powers-that-be” are officially poo-pooing the concept.
The op-ed begins by setting up a straw man to knock down. It claims that the Obama administration has the “assumption that a “clean-energy” economy will generate enough jobs to mitigate today’s high level of unemployment … and to meet the needs of future generations”, But seriously, has anyone, anywhere, ever said that new green jobs alone will solve the jobs crisis? Just asking.
The basis for the headline’s premise that green jobs are a myth was that installing smart electric meters means there will be fewer meter-readers employed. Well duh! But this op-ed — with its curious headline — uses some curious math to reach its conclusion that automating meters means fewer meter-readers will be employed. It claims that only 400 installation jobs would be created to install 20 million meters, 1600 if the rate of installation is increased. Huh? Then it gets better. To calculate how many meter-reader jobs will be lost it claims that meter-readers only read 30 meters an hour, causing 28,000 meter-reading jobs to be lost.
Now, I was already sold on the idea that automating meters means fewer meter-readers would be employed, but come on! Clearly the Post is betting that most people don’t read past the first few paragraphs if they’re thinking this kind of “let’s play tricks with math” will just slip by.
Curiously, the op-ed doesn’t mention that people will be employed to manufacture these 20 million smart-meters! How many jobs will be created to manufacture 20 million smart meters? The op-ed doesn’t say. perhaps saying how many would negate the curious title.
How Many Green Jobs Are There?
But never mind smart meters. If we’re going to talk about green jobs we need to talk about the jobs that would be created by:
- retrofitting every building and home in America to be energy efficient, and the management, supply chain, transportation, tools, etc.
- manufacturing, installing and maintaining wind turbines
- manufacturing, installing and maintaining rooftop solar installations
- manufacturing, installing and maintaining solar power generation facilities
- everything associated with biofuels, geothermal power generation, nuclear power, advanced batteries, hydro power, carbon sequestration, carbon credit trading and transportation alternatives including building an advanced high-speed rail system connecting every major city in the country.
Think about the huge number of jobs all of this involves – and the huge payoff to our economy. And remember, these will all be in addition to the existing energy infrastructure, for now.
I suspect that the reason we see curiously misleading op-eds like this one in outlets like the Washington Post is that all of these coming technologies mean lower profits for the big, monopolistic oil and coal giants.
They can try to stop the green manufacturing revolution but it is coming. The question is, do we let op-eds like this one stop it from being Made in America?