The term “green” has taken on a new meaning with the populace in recent years. The term green to many people means taking a new environmentally conscious approach to things. The populace hears about green energy, cars, and much more. The term brings both positive and negative connotations. Some will think of great new ways to combat climate change and global warming, while others will roll their eyes because, thinking it is just more new age, hippy nonsense.
There are many ways to go green: recycling, driving energy efficient cars, eating organic, and investing in renewable energy. These options range from easy and sensible to difficult and expensive. We can still personally make decisions that make our lives greener, sometimes it even works to our own benefit, be it for health or even financial reasons. If environmentalists intend to make Americans want to go green, then they should do it in ways citizens can get behind. Going green should be financially feasible. Simply put, if going green can save Americans some “green,” then it would be an infinitely more popular movement.
The United States has a pollution problem. There is no getting around this fact. We are contributing greatly to climate change and other pollutions to the planet. We rank only behind China in carbon dioxide emissions. Considering China has four times our population, this is nothing in which we should take pride. A good start for this country is to admit we have a problem. A good jumping point would be to get aligned with the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement between countries to meet certain environmental standards. Many Americans would fear that meeting Kyoto standards would hurt the economy. The pessimists would think meeting green standards would kill the economy with its strangling regulations. On this topic, former President Bill Clinton wrote that “countries meeting their Kyoto Protocol commitments,” such as Germany, Denmark and Sweden, have been “least hard hit by the economic crisis.” This is what many Americans are missing in the green debate; there is an untapped green industry that the United States could get its hands on. Americans have been torchbearers and groundbreakers in many fields and green energy could be among them.
In the same article Bill Clinton mentions that the green energy field was growing more than twice the rate of the overall economy before the recession hit. Current President Barack Obama has been trying to get green initiatives into this country. Out of $800 billion of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $90 billion of the stimulus package was put into green energy. This program has been criticized. A major, and valid, criticism has been at the green energy company Solyndra which proved to be a bust. Although Solyndra was a disaster costing billions, the program itself was not a complete failure. In fact, it created jobs, helped the environment, and invested in the future. Like any major undertaking, an example must be made to see if it was done correctly. A good place to start looking would be Germany.
Germany has the fourth largest economy in the world. There is a reason they are seen as leaders of the European Union. A reason for their success could be attributed to the fact they entered into the green industry before other countries. In 2010, 26 billion Euros were made in the renewable energies sector. That would equal to roughly 34.5 billion in United States currency. This industry that would clearly be worth getting into. It is not just worth it for the financial incentives, but also the environmental help it brings. Germany getting into green industries allows it to have 20 percent of its energy from alternative sources from fossil fuels. As previously stated, going green can generate money and help the environment.
The good news is the green industry is being utilized at home. Right here in Philadelphia, Mayor Michael Nutter has taken some bold moves to turn Philly green. Mayor Nutter’s Office of Sustainability is currently working with two environmental consulting firms, ICF International and Stratus Consulting. One of the target projects of the mayor’s administration is to lower energy government consumption by 30 percent in 2015. By that year the city is estimated to save $36.3 million. Another part of the plan is to fit houses with insulation, air sealing, and cool roofs. Thus was made possible by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. There is also money to be made in these endeavors. Mayor Nutter stated that recycling in the city has tripled and is now making money. Americans have to stop labeling green energy as inefficient and costly. If done right it can stimulate the environment and the economy.
Jack Barnett is a fourth-year student majoring in history and political science. He can be reached at JB723722@wcupa.edu.