Green Jobs to the Rescue

Book reviews

greening economy

Greening the Global Economy (2015)

What a relief to read a well-grounded book arguing that we can still do something about climate change! According to the author this is completely feasible from a technological and economic standpoint. It’s just the politics that gets in the way. (Bet you didn’t see that one coming.)

Robert Pollin is a distinguished economist at the University of Massachusetts. His book, “Greening the Global Economy,” is published by MIT Press. So when he says that doing what it takes to stop climate change will not suppress economic growth but actually increase employment, I feel hope. That should be a political winner, right?

About 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions are due to burning coal, oil, and natural gas for energy production. Pollin starts with the assessment that global emissions will need to fall 40% from present levels within 20 years, and 80% by mid-century.

He says this can be achieved without reducing living standards for most people in the developed nations (some rich people should give up living in their McMansions to help out) or foregoing improvement of living standards in the developing nations.

How? He first considers and rejects some prominent proposals: Continue Reading

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The Future Looks Green

Book reviews

gahrton3

Green Parties, Green Future: From Local Groups to the International Stage (2015)

“Green Parties, Green Future” provides a handy overview of the political parties of the global Green movement, their origins, current state, and future challenges. Informative and written in a straightforward, almost dry style, it’d make a good supplementary textbook for a college course. Educational for sure, but not exactly riveting reading.

The author, Per Gahrton of the Swedish Green Party, begins on a hopeful note. He cites Nobel Laureate Hannes Alfvén’s statement that each century gives birth to a political ideology that dominates the following century: 18th century classical liberalism dominated the politics of the 19th century, 19th century socialist ideas defined the 20th, and the Green worldview born of the 20th century will do the same in this century.

Unless we humans become extinct first. (He didn’t say that, I did.)

Although there are many historical precursors of environmental concern, the modern Green movement was born of the dual crises of growing awareness of the harmful effects of industrial economies and disillusionment with the radical politics of the 1960s. Many people felt that not only a new politics, but a new way of life was needed.

Out of this ferment came many familiar features of contemporary life: organic farming, natural health care, anti-consumerism, and environmental lobbying groups, among other things. One of those other things was the new Green political parties in diverse countries, a phenomenon not yet as successfully established as the former movements. The struggles, successes and failures of these parties are Gahrton’s central focus. Continue Reading

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