"It is time to chart a new course for the United States. A whole world of new and stronger policies is needed – measures that strengthen our families and our communities, address the breakdown of social connectedness, and favor rootedness over mobility; measures that guarantee good, well-paying jobs, increase employee satisfaction, minimize layoffs and job insecurities, and provide for adequate retirement incomes…." - James Gustave Speth, The Bridge at the Edge of the World, Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from
What You Need To Know
Green jobs are career-track, high-quality, skilled, hands-on jobs in industries like renewable energy, water and energy efficiency, green building, habitat restoration, sustainable agriculture, and more. They contribute to preserving or enhancing environmental quality. Here are some other key characteristics of green jobs:
- They are usually local jobs – Because of profound changes in the availability and cost of energy in the decade, we will have to transform the places that we live and work and the way we get around. This will create jobs that cannot be sent overseas, for they will be in construction, retrofitting, and new technologies for energy generation. With the rising cost of transportation, more and more manufacturing will be located near energy and labor sources for local purchase and consumption.
- They will provide a path out of poverty - Most green jobs will be middle-skill jobs requiring more education beyond high school, but less than a four-year degree. If there are adequate training and support programs, many jobs will be appropriate for workers who currently have fewer skills and less education. These jobs can be a pathway from poverty to economic self-sufficiency and personal dignity.
- They will require new skills – Many industries are being transformed by new and more energy efficient technology, demanding new methods of manufacturing, installation, and maintenance. Workers will need to be re-trained and kept current on new developments in technology, thus spawning a whole new industry of hands-on teaching and learning.
- Green jobs will help rebuild a strong middle class – They will pay a living wage that can support families and provide opportunities for advancement along a career track of increasing skills and wages. A good, stable job adds stability to communities and dignity for those who hold them
- They strengthen both urban and rural communities – Some areas of cities and some small towns have been decimated by the loss of jobs going overseas or simply leaving for cheaper labor. Since every city and town will move towards a greener economy, more jobs will be created and the wages they pay will be pumped back into the local economy, thus strengthening the services sector.
They help save our natural environment and reduce global warming – A green job by its very nature helps to reduce dependency on oil and coal, lower greenhouse emissions, eliminate toxic substances from the eco-system, and protect the natural systems that sustain life
You may see green job employees in any of these tasks and more:
- installing solar panels
- retrofitting buildings to make them more efficient
- constructing transit lines
- refining waste oil into biodiesel
- erecting wind farms
- repairing hybrid cars
- building green rooftops
- planting trees
Why Are Green Jobs An Issue of Faith?
For most people, working is a necessity. Good work provides personal and family income that gives the financial foundation to make good consumer choices. It also provides personal dignity and the feelings of contributing to one's family and community. Good work also provides positive value on a local, national and worldwide scale by either doing no harm to creation or restoring that which has been harmed. Green jobs fall into that second category of restoration. In theological terms, restoration means turning from old harmful ways towards that which is life-enhancing. This tradition is deeply rooted in scripture through repentance and restoration so that those who hold or promote good green jobs are no just working economically, they are working spiritually towards wholeness.
What You Can Do
- Support public policy initiatives at the local, state, and national levels that promote good green jobs.
- Practice your own green jobs expansion by planting trees, replacing lawns with native perennials, and installing rain water gardens and barrels to catch run-off.
Links and Resources
Rev. Jim Deming
Minister for Environmental Justice
Program Team Based in Cleveland, Ohio
Justice And Witness Ministries
700 Prospect Ave.