This Month in Mother Jones: Rescuing the Economy and Saving the Planet

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The March/April issue of Mother Jones set a high water-mark for coverage of clean energy. The latest issue, which includes contributions from Al Gore, Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, Bill McKibben and Grist's David Roberts, does the same for climate change and the green economy; as they usually do, the editors of the magazine will slowly release its full contents online over the coming weeks, but that's no reason not to get the print version right now.

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The article that will probably garner the most eyeballs is the one penned by former Vice President Al Gore, whose title, "Can We Save the Planet and Rescue the Economy at the Same Time?," lays the fundamental problem plaguing our economy (and planet) out succinctly. Those who have heard or read his "moon shot" speech will already be familiar with Gore's basic prescription: committing the country to producing 100 percent of its electricity from clean energy sources within the next decade.

Though many dismissed the speech at the time (and still do) as hopelessly quixotic, a point Gore concedes would have been true only a few years ago, he argues that the significant cost reductions in solar, wind and other renewable energies, coupled with the recent price increases in fossil fuels, have "radically changed the economics of energy." In addition to investing in clean energy, the next administration should enact a carbon tax that will encourage the adoption of these new technologies and ease the burden of higher costs on the less well-off.

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In a story titled "The Truth About Green Jobs," Grist senior writer David Roberts dissects some of the more popular claims made about green-collar jobs -- that they're everywhere, that we will easily turn blue-collar workers into green-collar workers, etc. The crux of his argument is simple: Yes, the jobs could be plentiful and they could help revive the economy... but they could eventually be outsourced and, more important, there will be coal- and oil-fueled jobs for the foreseeable future. Helpfully, he also lays rest to the deniers' favorite argument that a carbon price would drastically slow economic growth by citing new evidence that shows that these macroeconomic models often overstate the costs and understate the benefits -- amounting to little more than "crap," in the words of UCLA professor Matthew Kahn.

Bill McKibben's piece, which deals with his new project, (which we've covered several times in the past), is a call to arms in which he urges the U.S., and the world, to adopt a carbon tax, stop building new coal plants and pursue a new international climate agreement that includes China and India.

Along the way, we will need to invest in our infrastructure, help developing countries obtain these new technologies -- establishing what McKibben calls a "Marshall plan for carbon" -- change our consumption patterns and much, much more. The technology that will make all of this possible, he continues, is the Internet:

And yet we do have this one tool that at least offers the possibility, a toll that wasn't fully there even a few years ago. The Internet -- and its attendant technologies, like cell phones and texting -- does link up most of the known world at this point. You can get pretty far back of beyond in most of the world, and someone in that village has a mobile.

That should give you a taste of what to expect. Some of the other articles you'll see include a list of the top 20 "econundrums" by Ben Whitford, a profile of Bill Ford Jr. by Fara Warner and a missive to the next president on how to kick-start clean tech by Chris Mooney.

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