Region Forward Blog

Two problems One solutioS

Aug 30, 2011


While catching up on some non-Hurricane Irene news yesterday we noticed an interesting set of articles presenting two problems – environmental and climate degradation and economic uncertainty – that can be solved through a common solution: promoting and creating green jobs.

Problem one: Economic uncertainty and rising unemployment. Despite metropolitan Washington’s protective economic bubble continued malaise is starting to take its toll on what’s been one of the strongest markets in the country. As the Examiner reported recently job losses accelerated significantly in the region last month. After losing 1900 jobs in June the District Suburban Maryland and Northern Virginia lost another 7900 in July according to the GMU Center for Regional Analysis.

Problem two: Environmental and climate degradation. Referencing a recent report by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) USA Today noted recently that air pollution remains a major environmental and public health problem in the United States with over 2000 unhealthy air alerts reported already in 2011. Meanwhile as politicians debate whether or not to take action on climate change the planet is feeling the effects of this hesitation. Despite some strong state and regional initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions national-level regulation is not yet in place.

So we have these two major problems. While Congress is eyeing cuts in the federal government – the region’s main direct and indirect employer metro Washington’s economy is showing signs of stagnation. Simultaneously environmental and climate crises persist. How about a common solution like promoting green jobs? While not an environmental or economic panacea (we still need to pursue more straightforward changes like driving less) growth in green jobs will have a positive impact on both fronts.

Stewart Edelstein noted recently in The Washington Post that the science and technology sector (which includes green jobs) will account for the largest demand in jobs in metro Washington over the next decade. As a recent report on the explosive growth of the American solar energy field indicates green jobs are a reality in the US though we need to take action to remain competitive in a quickly growing global market. With effective policies in place metro Washington can become a hub of a field likely to grow by leaps and bounds and do a lot of good for the environment at the same time.

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