Mar 17, 2019
By Robert Girling, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, Sonoma State University
and Chris Yalonis, President VenturePad Marin
There is a good bit of talk about a Green New Deal (GND), a plan to address climate change by directing federal dollars to restructure the economy, protect us from further disasters, create high paying jobs and reduce social inequities.
Among the goals of the GND are to move America to 100% clean and renewable energy. We are already leaders in this arena with Sonoma Clean Power and Marin Clean Energy providing much of the region’s energy. But there is still much to be done. Think for a moment about the thousands of gasoline-powered vehicles clogging our freeways each day. Nearly 60% of North Bay emissions are from the transportation sector. Think also about the possibility of placing solar panels on thousands of roofs and using the energy to power our cars. Consider the opportunities that might be provided by electric and autonomous vehicles as well as technologies to reduce commuting. Consider how solar and wind energy, designing and building smart cities and smart roads could reduce the threat of fire and flood and improve the quality of our lives.
As the economy tools up for the GND, high paying jobs will be created and more workers will be needed in technology firms like West Coast Solar and construction. Some will say, well that is fine—but we have a shortage of construction workers right now. New investments will be needed in education. The GND calls for prioritizing investment and training directed toward community resiliency. According to government researchers, the two top fastest-growing jobs in the US are wind turbine techs and solar panel installers/techs.
Fortunately, the North Bay region is a national leader in resiliency and well placed to benefit from our knowledge base. Many North Bay companies are creating new business models and clean-tech products. We are home to over 1000 California certified green businesses.
When FDR called on America to build 185,000 planes to fight the Nazi juggernaut, nearly every business leader, CEO, and general laughed at him. At the time, the U.S. had only managed to produce a paltry 3,000 planes in a year. Yet by the end of the war, we produced 300,000 planes. This was done to stop the enemies of the Axis in faraway lands; imagine how we might mobilize to stop the threat of climate change which has already destroyed the homes and upended the lives of millions at home in addition to the billions of dollars in costs.
The benefits from a Green New Deal will be forthcoming; consider that President Eisenhower’s interstate highway system returned more than $6 in economic productivity for every $1 cost.
The latest report by the International Panel on Climate Change said global emissions of carbon must be cut by 40-60% by 2030. We can be the leader in addressing climate change and develop and share our technology, expertise and products with the rest of the world.
The same way we paid for the New Deal and the 2008 bank bailout. The same way we paid for World War II and all our current wars. The Federal Reserve can extend credit to power a Green New Deal as it did to finance recent wars and new public banks can be created to extend credit.
So the question isn’t how will we pay for it, but what would we do with our new shared prosperity.
To learn about The Green New Deal come to the Sustainable Enterprise Conference at Sonoma State University on April 5 where you’ll hear from State Senator Bill Dodd; Supervisor Jim Gore and many experts including Dr. Richard Heinberg and join with others who believe in the power of our local community to create a thriving environment and a higher quality of life for all living things.
Please join educational, business, government, and community leaders for the 14th Annual Sustainable Enterprise Conference on April 5at Sonoma State University. This year we will gather transformational and engaged leaders from the North Bay counties to discuss pathways to Economic, Social, and Environmental Resilience. Join us to learn about:
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