Photo: Richard Hume
Elizabeth Kolbert quotes Van Jones in one of her trademark New Yorker articles, about the opportunity we have right now, in the recession, to put people to work and to make our buildings more efficient:
"You have construction workers who are idle, and they're going to be idle for twelve months, twenty-four months, thirty-six months. They're not going to be able to build anything. Let them rebuild everything. We have people coming home from wars, coming home from prisons, coming out of high school with no job prospects whatsoever. Let us connect the people who most need work with the work that most needs to be done."
and on rebuilding the nation's power grid:
We used to have a country, allegedly, but you couldn't drive across it, because all we had was a bunch of old dirt roads. Somebody, in the name of national security, said, 'Hold on a sec. What if we get invaded on the West Coast, how can we get troops from the East Coast?' So we created an interstate-highway system that connected the country to itself."
He lowered his voice to a grumble: " 'Oh, we can't afford to do it! This is insane!' We couldn't afford not to do it. Because the minute you did that the economy went through the roof. It was such a good idea that we did it again. In the name of national security, people in the Pentagon said, 'If we have one big communications tower, and somebody knocks it out, then we're blind, deaf, and dumb. We've got to figure out a way to distribute our information system.' So they came up with the idea of the information superhighway—for you young people, that's what we call the Internet. 'We can't afford to do this!' We couldn't afford not to do it. The minute we connected the country to itself, the economy went through the roof. All we're saying is, let's do it again. But this time, instead of connecting the country to itself to move bodies and vehicles or data around, let's connect the country to itself so we can move clean-energy electrons around. Then you've got the strongest economy in the world."
More in the New Yorker
More Van Jones in TreeHugger
The TH Interview: Van Jones - Founder of Green For All
Quote of the Day: Van Jones on the Green-Collar Solution
Green Jobs Now Day of Action: America is Ready For a New Green Economy
Green Jobs Now! Campiagn Promotes "Home Energy Makeovers" to Stimulate Green Economy