The number of problems the U.S. faces today seems to be infinite. Whether you have come to this realization through opening up your CNN homepage or even the walk from the Davidson Library to the Arbor, I’m sure you have been confronted by headlines, news articles and active petitioners pining for your attention regarding issues of unemployment among veterans and the poverty line, the raise in tuition prices and educational program cuts, oil drilling and the environmental movement. Often times they are presented as separate issues disregarding any sense of interconnection. But in fact, these issues are connected at the core and can be solved by a single solution: Green Jobs.
Van Jones, the former Green Jobs White House advisor to president Obama, came to the Marjorie Luke Theatre on Oct. 29 to speak of the connection between our economy, environment and everything in between, advocating for the promising future of Green Jobs. UCSB Environmental Affairs Board members listened as Jones talked about the “next generation” and our generation’s responsibility to halt the exploitation of the earth’s resources by big business and individuals.
Jones’ main point is simple: America needs to invest in its renewable resources and in its citizens. There is an environmental demand as well as an economic demand to create jobs that are stable and renewable. Jones outlined this in his lecture, as well as his book, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, utilizing the idea of “the fourth quadrant” to make his point. The fourth quadrant relies on the horizontal and vertical intersection between the environment and the economy. Jones uses the environment as the horizontal axis running from “gray problems” to “green solutions” and uses the economy as the vertical axis running from “rich” to “poor.” Our focus point is the quadrant represented by “green solutions” and the “poor,” the fourth quadrant.
He also highlighted the connection between “the fourth quadrant” and the core aim of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The nation should be encouraging the top 1 percent to invest in the 99 percent to empower the 100 percent with protection of mother earth at the forefront of our minds. Providing and creating green jobs particularly among poorer U.S. communities while encouraging innovation from all communities and individuals.
Our nation’s array of problems will not be solved overnight, but we have reached a point at which urgency for solutions that work are a necessity. We need to realize the green movement is not just about awareness and the failed economy is not just about unemployment. If the world lacks trailblazers, architects and builders, this movement will not succeed. America needs a national community coming together for the greater good of the environment and the economy. From there, we can think globally.
Sarah Buck is a first-year and a member of the Environemtanl Affairs Board.