Right now, the United States faces a stark job reality and a poor outlook. More than 9% of the US population is unemployed while even more are underemployed. With an economic slowdown happening in Europe and the United States, it is likely this number will be high for many more years.
If only there was some way to solve this troubling problem.
The long-term solution is very complex and requires a mix of smart legislation, strong education, and an adaptable public. However, even in the short-term, there are things we can do. Accelerating the pace at which our country invests in renewable energy is a major action.
Large green energy infrastructure projects require manufacturing jobs to build the photo-voltaic panels and wind turbines necessary to move our country into a cleaner energy future. This means good jobs for thousands of hard workers for many years into the future.
Plus, by switching over to renewable energy, research and development at the national, state, and local levels--and within scientific organizations and universities--breakthroughs will eventually be made in these blossoming fields. These breakthroughs are potentially worth billions of dollars. The United States is losing their competitive edge in these growing powerhouse industries to countries like China and Germany. If the United States would like to be one of the leaders in the field, investments must be made in the public and private sectors to speed up the shift to green energy.
While some of the jobs associated with renewable energy--like manufacturing--can take place outside of the US, many more--like construction, transportation, welding, and more--need to take place in the US economy. These provide jobs to workers, build experience, and create interpersonal networks within the industry--all vital things necessary to an all out shift to this brave new industry.
These jobs are all relatively well paying, too. They need lots of training and thus provide boosts to our schools and trade schools. Indirectly, these jobs will strengthen the job outlook for everything from welding teachers at trade schools to factory workers producing the giant blades used in wind turbines to the skilled truck drivers who transport the blades to the construction site. In an economy with high unemployment rates, this will help ease the stresses of unemployment at the individual level all the way up to social tensions at the national scale.
There’s another reason why the innovations that will come from these fields are very important. A sizable increase in the efficiency of solar panels would solve the energy problems of the world and, possibly, allow solar paneled electric cars to become a reality, thus solving the high price of gasoline. Imagine American countries producing solar panels to be shipped by the tens of thousands around the world. That will create lots of high paying jobs in sectors as varied as advertising, construction, scientific research, development, transportation, and manufacturing.
Also, now we’ve reached peak oil. This means the global supply of oil has hit a plateau while demand for oil increases globally this is very important. The more eggs out of the basket of fossil fuels and in the basket of renewable energies, the better things will be for our country.
Within a decade, higher prices of oil and thus gasoline could cause severe problems with our economy in so many ways: higher cost of transportation, manufactured goods, and food since petrochemicals are used in the production of food. This has wide-ranging negative effects such as social and political disorder; these are things to avoid, obviously, but this becomes doubly important because these negatives can synergize with high unemployment rates to really inflame social tensions.
Making the transition to solar and renewable energy soon is important not just to our economy but to the very stability and security of our society. It is important to remember that our economy can grow well best on the base of a strong, safe, and stable society. Failure to act now undermines our economy by hurting our society.
Moving to renewable energy is an important adaptation to climate change, too. Even though climate change is already happening and will continue to happen in the future, we can act now to minimize the severity of this very serious problem. Moving to renewable energy now is essential because they release far less carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases than coal or natural gas fired power plants.
This minimizes the effects of climate change for future generations, sets a good example, provides jobs, strengthens society, helps our country, other countries, and will help lead our country and the world through these often confusing and chaotic times.