Green Community News & Views
Login Here & write away…
Green Jobs Forecast
Green Jobs, Green Jobs, Where are all the jobs?…
In looking at the news one would believe that the world is coming to an end with all the talk of unemployment and the export of jobs to overseas competition. But if we scratch below the surface we will see that there is a huge trend surfacing that is creating an enormous amount of opportunity for retooling and growth in technological innovation and the re-birth of a manufacturing in the United States.
According to the US Department of Labor there are 1.2 million jobs that are unfilled right now in the marketplace. These jobs are unfilled because there are too few skilled applicants that apply for them. There are foreign companies, American companies, small companies, large companies, startups and mid-size companies all of which contribute to the growth and development of a new established emergent industry coined “the green economy.” The green economy encompasses many different aspects of the energy market sector. The United States has seen the largest growth in the solar market sector over the past two years. The industry has seen growth over 120% since 2006 (Engineering Magazine July 2010) and is experiencing a explosion of growth in the commercial residential sectors. Next we have watched the growth of the slow food movement, which has the cropping up of small local family farms and urban farms that are supporting sustainable organic farming methods that yield a variety of foods that are in high demand in local markets. The growth, process, and distribution of these foods has created a cottage industry that has become boutique in nature.
Third, we have the automotive industry that has seen a growth spurt in the development, manufacturing and innovation of a new breed of cars that will revolutionize the way we commute, transport merchandise and travel in the world. Electric cars will become the norm within the next five (5) years, and all major automobile manufacturers have at least one auto that is either electric or hydrogen fuel cell powered on the market today.
Innovation in technology is spurring a growth a new jobs and transfer of skills from various industries that can continue to support the implementation of the ideas developed to aid and assist in the conservation of energy. Auto manufacturers have expanded and retooled their plants to accommodate the new vehicles that are taking front row in showrooms, because of consumers demand.
What are the jobs we are talking about? We are talking about jobs in the auto industry, renewables energy marketplace. The marketplace is inclusive of anything that touches and supports energy reduction, sustainable resource generation and use, and the overall reduction of carbon footprint of any person place or thing on the planet. The jobs we refer to include agriculture, hospitality, manufacturing, technology, construction, environmental management, waste management, waste reduction, procurement, human resources and health and nutrition.
Leadership; decision making; the ability to recognize innovation and develop it, and understanding and adapting to change or change managers. These will be the key skills that are sought after in the development and emergence of trends in the new economy. So if you’re looking for a job or career shift, and don’t know what to prepare for sharpen your analytical skills, and your ability to sell yourself and well as products and you will see yourself in a position to choose from over 20 different professions to use your skills.
“The industries in which jobs are being eliminated have lower industry-wide average salaries than the industries in which jobs are being created (except for the electricity industry), suggesting that if displaced workers are able to transition to a similar created green job, they are likely to experience an increase in income. Exhibit 4-6 through Exhibit 4-9 display the actual and estimated job gains and losses for each NAICS industry sector for 2000–2008 and 2009–2013.” USGBC Jobs Report 2010, Booz Allen Hamilton
In the job search that is ever present for so many, the best thing to do is to research and look at creative alternatives for utilizing existing skills and retooling your toolbox.
Kellé Lynch McMahon is the CEO of The Green Science Academy (TGSA) located in Oakland CA. TGSA assists business and individuals in career enhancement and training that leads to certification in the clean green technology market sector. You can learn more at www.greenscienceacademy.org
Ethics and Fashion
How we dress says lot about who we are. “How’s the weather where I work? “ “Am I feeling blue or bright?” “Am I retro or edgy, sassy or sexy, professional or bohemian…” Fashion is the business of selling dreams and fashion brand campaigns with all their glamour and imagery compete to capture our imagination. If the dream this season is “those boots”, then every girl must have the “it” pair of boots till of course the next “it” pair comes along. But amidst all the glitz and glamour, we as consumers are rarely exposed to what goes on behind the scenes and the price we as customers pay for buying into the dream. As more and more horror stories about the negative human and environmental impact of the fashion industry emerge, the new trend that’s hopefully here to stay is one of ethical fashion. But what do “ethics” in fashion mean anyways and as a consumer why should I care?
Even industry professionals often disagree on this stuff, making it a lot harder for the end consumer to navigate all the options out there. Here are a few terms you’ll hear often and an attempt at explaining what they mean, so that you as a consumer can decide if it’s something you want to get behind.
Fair trade put simply means that people who made your clothes were paid a fair living wage for making the clothes, instead of being made in a sweat shop that uses child labor. Most of us at one point or another in our lives have done minimum wage jobs, been through a lay off or been treated unfairly at work. The problem is a lot more severe in developing countries, where it often constitutes human rights violations, why would we want to contribute to that?
Simply means that natural substances like plants, vegetables etc were used to dye the fabric and yarn instead of chemicals. While one might not make a direct connection here, but the chemicals used to dye fabrics are often disposed off untreated, contaminating ground water. Ground water affects soil and hence the food grown in it, so these chemicals become part of the eco system and make their way to our bodies causing diseases.
We all understand organic food but don’t often realize that clothes we wear are crops too-such as cotton, linen, bamboo etc. Organic means that chemical fertilizers were not used in the growth of the crop. The same principle of prevention of chemicals used to grow these crops making their way to our bodies and the eco system applies.
Fabric is woven by hand meaning minimum to no use of electricity for running looms and typically supportive of small weaver communities. Contrary to popular belief, handloom fabrics last longer, wash better and breathe easier and usually use only natural yarns.
Uses no animal products. One can make a case for prevention of animal cruelty, a great choice for all our animal loving, vegetarian and vegan friends.
Made by communities of craftspeople instead of a factory and usually helps create livelihood for artisans while preserving a craft form. If you’re an artist, or an art lover of any kind, whether it’s a hand woven textile, a well made movie or a fantastic meal, you appreciate the importance of the artistic spirit. In the absence of “artisan made” all our clothes would be the equivalent of factory made “canned food.” The idea is not to get over whelmed, but to ask a few questions before we give our hearts away to the next cashmere sweater. Stop and feel it, wonder about who made it, what it’s made of and see what answers you get. You could land up making a big difference in your own life and the lives of many others.
Sonica Sarna is head of design and product development at “Raasta”, an ethically made hi-fashion clothing line made in partnership with rural artisan communities in India. The clothing and accessories use handloom fabrics and natural dyes while maintaining a boho-chic sensibility ( www.raastaonline.com). Join Raasta at their exclusive launch party on Nov 2nd at 6.30 pm at BellaPelle, 9 Maiden Lane , San Francisco
Dereliction Of Foodies
As urban farming becomes a valid source of obtaining fresh foods with local sources addressing energy and conservation concerns, will the direction we work towards be thwarted by local government or lack of necessary resources to continue our efforts?
The short answer to a long question is there are no guarantees. I have watched one community garden after another closed for a variety of reasons. All who partake should be aware of legalities http://www.theselc.org/food-and-livelihoods-project/ and poised to take action as the South Central Farmers in Los Angeles have. Although they didn’t prevail in the legal sense a commitment to continue sent them in many directions. Some facilitated by the mayor whose campaign led the farmers to believe he would be able to help them. During times like this when good food is unaffordable to many and we realize that subsidized means substandard products it is important to continue efforts and sometimes battles for the right to clean water and fresh foods. http://gefoodlabels.org/ By Susan Rigali
Susan Rigali is Owner/Executive Chef of Savor Solar. She has invested a significant amount of her career to education and research in the areas of food safety and the slow food movement. She has been a part of many organic urban gardening projects in L.A., which aim to transform socio-economic barriers that keep families from accessing healthy food and practicing eco-friendly lifestyles. For the majority of her career, Susan has worked in connection with the unique world of film and television production. Her accomplishments range from large scale events to intimate dining affairs.
Italy, Europe’s top grower of organic grapes
by Elvira Ackermann: According to the latest IFOAM (International Federation of Organic Associations) report, Italy is the major grower of organic grapes in Europe.
As a matter of fact, the country of “la dolce vita” boasts 34.000 hectares (84.015 acres) of land dedicated to organic wine growing. Italy is followed by France with 19.000 hectares (46.950 acres) and Spain with 16.000 hectares (39.537 acres). They represent the three major growers of organic grapes in Europe. Germany, being the fourth producer of the old continent, includes only 4.000 hectares (9.885 acres) of land planted with organic grapes.
Italy maintains also an excellent position in the general ranking of organic wine producing countries worldwide earning the fifth position with 1.147 hectares (2.834 acres) of organic vineyard land. The first four positions are being maintained by countries that are way larger than Italy, i.e. Australia, Argentina, China and the U.S. The above statistics show an outstanding organic grape growth in the Italian wine world thanks to an increasing market penetration of organic and biodynamic wine in Italy and Europe.
Note 1: la dolce vita = literally “the sweet life,” indicates the pleasant Italian life style including sunshine, beaches, fine wine and food, fancy cars, fashion, friendly people……
Note 2: biodynamic wine = At its most basic, the biodynamic approach to grape-growing sees the vineyard as an ecological whole: not just rows of grapevines, but the soil beneath them—an organism in its own right—and the other flora and fauna in the area, growing together interdependently. Where biodynamics differs from other forms of organic or sustainable agriculture is in its idea that farming can be attuned to the spiritual forces of the cosmos. This might mean linking sowing and harvesting to the phases of the moon or the positions of the planets; it also might mean burying cow manure in a cow’s horn over the winter, unearthing it in the spring, diluting a minute amount of the substance in 34 liters of water, “dynamizing” it by stirring it by hand in alternating directions for an hour or so and then spraying the mixture over one’s vineyard.
Solar power key to a new green renaissance
The uses for solar energy are becoming more and more apparent as demonstrated by the recent introductions of solar powered mobile phones in Kenya and India. Both countries have large areas where electricity is not available through a grid tied system. Small solar panels and battery systems offer a cleaner energy solution in rural areas where kerosene is often used. Jeff Olshesky and Trevor Knauff are with Beyond Solar, a US based non profit who has worked with South Orissa Voluntary Action (SOVA) and D.light Design, a solar lantern manufacturer based in New Delhi to provide micro loans to the residents of Koraput; district in the eastern Indian state of Orissa a region about 1000 miles northeast of Mumbai. Their worked allowed the villagers to purchase these small systems and literally light up there huts at night. In Nairobi, Kenyan entreprenauer, Murefu Marasa is working to provide affordable small scale solar products to a district of 500,000 people who have no legal access to electricity. From solar powered backpacks to solar powered airplanes; product innovations and developments are happening everyday. There are also many DIY(do it yourselfers) who are installing solar on their own.
Around the globe, solar and other forms of renewable energy are making a positive impact on the environment, climate change and job creation. In Germany for example, in1998 30,000 people were employed in green related jobs. In 2010 – 300,000 people were employed in green jobs… a growth of ten times.This progress was no accident. Along with many policy changes the German government instituted a number of incentive programs that literally paid homeowners to install solar on their rooftops. America needs to do what the Germans did – create a national renewable energy policy that is sustainable and doesn’t rely on the perpetual use of poisonous oil and coal as the main source of energy.
Today China is the worlds largest manufacturer of solar panels. According to Gary Locke, US Secretary of Commerce, China is investing $9 billion a month into clean energy and efficiency.The US Recovery Act is an $80 billion clean energy investment program designed to double American renewable capacity and create thousands of jobs. The United States is now in fourth position in terms of solar power installed.
Meanwhile if the DeepWater Horizon oil rig explosion and forth coming catastrophic consequences in the Gulf of Mexico hasn’t revealed why we need renewable energy, I’m not sure what will. Maybe pissed off, mutated, fire spitting, Moby Dick sized toxic shrimp rising from the oily deep ravaging the regions coastlines would be persuasive enough. Like Tony Hayward CEO of BP who wanted his life back, It is not without understanding why oil rig workers and politicians want their way of life to continue. They like we, live in an oil based eco system that’s been in place for generations now. But change will come… it always does. Take note,Thomas Edison created an electric car in 1910…that’s right 1910! Are we serious enough now, 100 years later when we recognize that 90% of the oil that America uses is for transportation. We know we’re a nation of oil junkies…question is are we tired of being strung out? Maybe the 3000 or so oil rigs in the Gulf could be transformed as offshore solar, wind, tidal or wave stations. We’re all going to need to participate in this change. We the engineers, scientists, investors, politicians, marketers, artists, thinkers, citizens and inventors have a stake in this.
Our nations’ call to action is to honestly help create new green opportunities not only for the Gulf fishing industry and oil rig workers, but for all Americans desparately seeking to revitalize their lives in the face of change. When President John F Kennedy spoke of sending a man to the moon he said,” we chose to do these things and the other things, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.” The power of the oil industry is legendary and yet they too must recognize the danger of deep water drilling and realize it isn’t sustainable. Solar alone isn’t the answer: it’s part of a diversity of innovations throughout our society including renewable energy options such as hydro, biomass and other opportunities yet to be explored. Together they and we have the potential to lead this country to a new green renaissance of environmental, business and social prosperity.