Case in point, an assessment by Gürcan Gülen, Senior Energy Economist at the Bureau for Economic Geology at the University of Texas at Austin, who was asked by the Copenhagen (Denmark) Consensus Center to determine the validity of the claim that green policies—and their eventual enactment—do in fact create jobs.
Initially, we were not sure what the connection was between a Danish think tank and a Texas university. Then we learned that the Consensus Center is the brainchild of Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish citizen known for his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol and his advocacy of social justice issues.
Having shed light on that peculiar association, we can return to Gülen’s assessment, which concludes that the number of jobs generated by green energy policies and actions is likely to be negatively offset by the number of jobs that are destroyed.
Further, Gülen says that industry itself fails to distinguish between the types of green jobs created. Are they high-paying construction jobs, or lower-paying cleanup crew work? Are they temporary (setting up the solar photovoltaic energy system), or permanent (maintaining the system)?
Some of Gülen’s criticisms touch a nerve; others seem merely picayune. For example, if a sustainability engineer quits a cement factory and goes to work setting up a wind turbine, has the green jobs venue added one more, or merely maintained the status quo?
In any case, I love how the green vs. brown issue can be obfuscated by a few well-aimed but completely superficial questions. So I’d like to counter Lomborg’s (and Gülen’s) efforts by pointing out that the Crossroads Solar Energy Project will create more than 450 construction jobs lasting about two years, and almost 5,000 peripheral jobs—everything from the guy driving the lunch wagon to the supplier who insures an adequate supply of unbroken mirrors and the gear wheels on which they track the sun.
Even when the project is finished, at least 45 skilled workers will be needed to keep the solar thermal project on target, producing electricity to serve 100,000 homes. And, of course, the presence of the solar project itself will encourage home buying and building, more stores to supply more goods, more teachers to teach workers’ children, perhaps even more schools.
I’m sure you get the idea. Growth is organic, and the potential growth of the green jobs market is astonishing, in spite of naysayers.
Photo Credit: Patrick Feller via Flickr CC