The Green Revolution: Working for People, Not Publicity

green jobs sign photo

photo: Linh Do/Creative Commons

Getting a quality job in a growing industry seems like a revolutionary concept these days. 
Right now, millions of unemployed Americans are desperately searching for new opportunities, only to have their applications ignored and calls unanswered.  Doors are constantly closed in their face.  For many, the American Dream is fading; people, for the first time, feel that future generations will be worse off than they are. That's why, in this unique moment, the green economy is a ray of hope; it's providing new jobs at a time when the rest of the economy is struggling.  As Forbes recently pointed out, "green jobs are the sweet spot in an otherwise bitter economy ... [and] are estimated to grow 6.3% annually over the next five years, expanding by nearly 20% by 2016." 
So, when people ask what happened to the so-called "Green Revolution", I have to wonder what were they expecting?  Fireworks every time a green job is created? Parades?  Flags in the sand?
The fact is that progress in the green economy is happening, just in subtler ways than some thought.  Consider the story of Brad Fields, who was laid off last year after spending most of his career at an auto plant in California.  He found new work at Bloom Energy, which makes fuel cell boxes to power buildings.  In addition to Fields, 20 other former workers from the auto plant have found work at Bloom, which has doubled its staff to 714 full-time employees in the year since it launched its fuel-cell technology.   
There are many more incredible stories like this -- of people thrown out of dying industries who have found new opportunities in new sectors -- you just haven't heard about them.  That's because the success of the green economy isn't about headlines; it's about people -- who work 9 to 5 every day -- and are providing for their families.  It's the single mother who holds a manufacturing job making mercury-free batteries; the young person who got his first job as a mechanic working on hybrid cars; and the stranger driving the energy-efficient bus you take every morning.
These might not be glamorous jobs, but most Americans don't work for fame or fortune, they just want good wages and benefits for a hard days work -- and green industries are providing them.   
So, next time you read columns questioning the green revolution, just remember the Americans, like Brad Fields, who have found new hope and new opportunity in these sectors. That is something you can't capture in a sound bite.

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