There's a way for both the economy and the environment to win. That's the implication of a new report that says that clean-energy manufacturing could create 8,500 new jobs in Washington state. And it's the theme of a community forum, "Green Jobs: Social Justice and Global Warming," held tonight, Nov. 7, in the Central District. Sponsors are King County, Seattle Climate Action Now, Earth Ministry, El Centro de la Raza, Climate Solutions and Puget Sound Sage.
Van Jones, a human rights advocate and environmentalist, is the featured speaker. Jones is a national leader working to solve social inequality and environmental destruction simultaneously with "green" jobs -- for example in clean energy technology, weatherization, or ecological restoration.
"The chief moral obligation of the 21st century is to build a green economy that is strong enough to lift people out of poverty. Those communities that were locked out of the last century's pollution-based economy must be locked into the new, clean and renewable economy. Our youth need green-collar jobs, not jails," Jones says on his web site, www.vanjones.net.
Jones, a Yale graduate, is the founding president of "Green For All," a national campaign for green-collar jobs and opportunities that was launched last summer, according to his web site. Jones is also the founder of a national coalition promoting a multi-million dollar initiative that he says would create more than 100,000 jobs, reworking the way the United States uses energy.
Washington state is poised to be a national leader in green jobs. The report by the Blue-Green Alliance, a public-policy partnership of the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers, cited a study prepared by the Renewable Energy Policy Project. It found that 790 Washington firms could host 8,562 new jobs, including 3,902 in wind turbine manufacturing and 3,190 in solar manufacturing. Iowa, Arkansas, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania have already seen thousands of new jobs created in the clean energy manufacturing sector, according to the report.
"You can't take a building you want to weatherize, put it on a ship to China, and then have them do it and send it back," Jones told Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times in an article. "So we are going to have to put people to work in this country - weatherizing millions of buildings, putting up solar panels, constructing wind farms. Those green-collar jobs can provide a pathway out of poverty for someone who has not gone to college.”
Shauna Lundin is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.
The free community forum “Green Jobs: Social Justice and Global Warming,” will be held at 7 p.m. Wed., Nov. 7 at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center Theater, 104 17th Ave. S.