What the Heck is a Green Job?

06/27/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Listen up all you free marketeers, billions of dollars of private investment dollars have been pouring into the economy here at home and around the world to build a new clean energy economy. After eight years of losing competitive economic ground to Europe and China, Congress is close to passing historic legislation to reduce carbon pollution while sparking economic growth. President Obama has already radically changed the last eight years of our nation's energy policy by encouraging the creation of new jobs & preservation of old ones in a new clean economy that could bring trillions of dollars in growth over the next decade.

But, you might wonder, what the heck is a green job anyway?

We all know blue-collar and white-collar jobs, but now jobs of a new collar are popping up all over the nation -- and not just in your hippie uncle's backyard or at Greenpeace meetings. Green jobs encompass a wide range of high-quality jobs at every skill level. The emerging green economy provides the obvious work -- installing solar panels on rooftops, building wind turbines, and retrofitting homes for energy efficiency. As importantly, though, the green market will spur demand for jobs that people already have today -- roofers, insulators, auto workers, machinists, electricians, and much more. Even those workers who mine iron ore to make steel that is used to build wind turbines -- steel that was, ten years ago, used for low-efficiency automobiles -- have become green-collar workers.

Green jobs are bringing jobs back into the country and keeping them here at home, not taking them out. They can reduce unemployment and poverty, increase job long-term security, provide new sources of income and investment for our economy, and, at the same time, combat climate change. A classic example of doing well by doing good.

These aren't jobs that might exist some day in the distant future. They exist today, and represent bright opportunities for growth in the American economy. According to a report commissioned by the American Solar Energy Society, renewable energy and energy efficiency industries generated 8.5 million jobs and nearly $1 trillion in revenue in the U.S. in 2006. And with increasing investment in green technology, and more smart government policies mandating that more energy come from alternative sources, these numbers will increase greatly in the next few decades.

And go get a job, man!

Donnie Fowler
Palo Alto, CA