Authors: Phaedra Ellis Lamkins
Originallyposted on Current.com
I may be going out on a limb here, but I firmly believe that this Earth Day there is much to celebrate. True, we’re beginning to see climate change take its toll as people around the world struggle in the face of drought and severe weather. And it’s true that we’ve seen a dispiriting lack of political action to fight climate change—both in Washington and on the world stage.
But we’re also seeing transformation and hope rising up from communities around the country and the globe. This Earth Day, I want to pause and celebrate the progress we’ve made towards our vision of a prosperous green economy.
Let’s start with the Bureau of Labor Statistics report issued just a few weeks ago. This report shows that green jobs are real, are growing, and are here to stay. The report shows that an enormous number of jobs are already linked to the green economy – 3.1 million in 2010. This new data illustrates just how productive and positive green jobs can be for our economy and for the average American worker.
First, consider that green jobs are incredibly diverse: from construction and manufacturing to recycling and mass transit. Green jobs also support two industries that have been hit hardest by the economic slowdown: construction and manufacturing—both of which have reported off-the-chart unemployment rates, hurting families across the country. Recovery in these sectors is vital to pulling America out of recession. So it’s encouraging that green building accounted for 25 percent of all new construction ventures in 2010.
What’s more, in some of the hardest-hit regions in America, green jobs are increasingly becoming an important and permanent part of the economic fabric. In the Midwest, for example, green jobs represented 3.7% of total employment. We see this same trend in some of the most economically desperate areas across the country.
There’s little doubt that the green economy is already transforming Americans’ lives. Change is here, and it’s here to stay.
But that doesn’t mean we can’t do more to accelerate its pace. In fact, there has never been a more important moment to invest in the green economy—by giving it a shot in the arm now, we can ensure that America comes back stronger and healthier and more prosperous than ever. Yes, there have been some setbacks for the environment. But we have also never had a greater opportunity to transform our economy and our communities than we do right at this moment. This Earth Day, there’s a lot to celebrate. Here are some of the ways Green for All is marking the day:
- In Nashville, we are working with the University of Phoenix and business leaders to help entrepreneurs learn what it takes to succeed in clean energy economy with our eighth Green Business Academy.
- In Atlanta, we are working with Let’s Retrofit A Million to bring together students and families to make a local elementary school more energy efficient by changing light bulbs and educating the community on how they can save money by being more environmentally friendly. We’ll also be planting trees and talking about the inspiring work of Noble Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai, whose legacy teaches us that we can all make a difference in our community if we work together.
- Online, we are reaching out to communities nationwide with our partner the League of Young Voters with the launch of our Green Room Mixtape (below) and Block Rockers toolkit to inspire young people to change their community and make it thrive.
There’s a lot more work to be done, and we need your help. Whether you want to start your own garden, make your campus more sustainable, or educate your neighbors and friends, our Earth Day Block Rockers toolkit has all the resources to take action. With your help we’ll have even more to celebrate next Earth Day. Sign up here to find out what more you can do to build the green economy.