Since 2008, these two things haven't changed: the world is getting warmer and millions of Americans are out of work. They're not going away any time soon.
Green For All was founded on the idea that those two problems could be relieved with a common solution, green jobs. We've seen that this can work; renewable energy businesses are among the fastest growing in the American economy.
We've also learned that the green economy holds much more promise than just renewables. The scope of jobs that improve our environment runs from factory workers building high-efficiency vehicles to entrepreneurs selling organic skincare products to businesses that turn a profit recycling waste from shredded automobiles.In July, the Brookings Institution released a report detailing the extent of the green economy. Some 2.7 million Americans work at green jobs - more than work in the fossil fuel industry. The US Conference of Mayors estimates that number will almost triple by 2040. And green jobs are quality jobs. Median wages are 13 percent higher than the median - and they're available to more Americans who have a high school degree. Investment in clean energy projects yields more than three times as many jobs as investing in fossil fuels.
Even so, there is a lot of room for growth. Back in 2008, we argued that the green economy held great promise - and could grow to scale if Congress acted boldly. Had Congress passed comprehensive climate legislation, for example, or if they'd enacted the HOME STAR program.
Neither of which happened. If they had, millions more Americans would be at work right now. Just as millions more could be at work had the stimulus been larger. Just as millions could be put to work today by decisive government action. The only thing in more critical condition than our global environment is our political environment.
Which is too bad. We've seen the positive impact that support from government can have at a local level - in Philadelphia and Portland, Oakland and Atlanta. Some projects haven't been as successful; others still have been runaway successes. This is how the American economy works.
It's how the global economy works as well. Germany recently passed the United States to assume the number two position in global clean energy investment. In first place - by a mile - is China, where government investment is deliberate and robust. Clean energy is a growing market, but a confined one - and every sale made by overseas competitors is a job lost stateside.
Some people are just fine with that. Few economic sectors in history have had an active segment of the population rooting for its failure. Fossil fuel companies, climate change deniers, those happy to see a stagnant economy until November 2012 - there are many for whom a robust, green economy is a threat. Many see those 2.7 million jobs and wish they didn't exist.
Well, they do. And that number will grow. We wish it would grow faster: the faster it grows, the sooner we can stem the worst impacts of global warming and the sooner we get money into households that desperately need it.
But that number will grow. We'll step over obstacles we encounter and roadblocks placed in front of us.
The green economy will grow.