Monday, February 08, 2010

The Jobs are in The Trees

I just finished reading an interesting piece about how investments in green job creation -- in fields such as conservation and restoration, efficiency retrofits, clean energy and mass transit construction -- provide far greater employment returns than investing in dirty energy or nuclear jobs:

With Congress and the White House considering spending scarce dollars to jump-start employment, they’ll need to get the biggest jobs bang for the buck to give Americans confidence that they’re spending our money wisely. Probably the biggest jobs generator of all, and one of the least recognized, is investing in forest and land restoration and sustainable management, with conservation, watershed projects, and park investment coming close behind.

Heidi Garrett-Peltier and Robert Pollin at The Political Economy and Research Institute of the University of Massachusetts report the following numbers for jobs created per dollar of investment.

To summarize, reforestation and restoration outperforms even the second-most jobs-intense activity analyzed by 74 percent, and conservation exceeds other major jobs alternatives, including especially new highway construction, Wall Street, and conventional energy sources like oil and nuclear.

This is further justification for the bold investments needed to transition America to a clean energy economy, which will also solve climate change. 

Recently, I co-authored a policy brief on green job creation to combat the spread of invasive species -- a key area of conservation that will also save agencies and landowners on control costs while benefiting the health of ecosystems and their native species diversity.  Efforts to stem the spread of invasive weeds and other costly pest species are currently plagued by a lack of personnel and resources.  Job creation in this area will both put people to work and help solve a major threat to the health of both ecosystems and human well-being.

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