Even if you were not at General Assembly in Ft. Lauderdale this past June, you have probably heard by now about the Ware Lecture. Environmental Justice advocate, Van Jones, electrified the auditorium when he outlined his vision for a new America, one where governance is based on optimism and compassion, instead of fear and competition.
(If you still haven’t seen Van’s talk yet, here it is.)
During the lecture, Mr. Jones briefly outlined his vision for how two of the greatest challenges facing us can be addressed at the same time – global climate change and economic injustice. Our current fossil fuel-based economy favors the wealthy few who control these limited resources at the expense of the middle and lower classes, resulting in more and more families slipping into poverty. Van proposes that instead of an economy based on death (fossil fuels), we switch to an economy based on life (solar, wind, and water). The same people who are currently employed mining coal and assembling SUVs can be retrained to make wind turbines and solar cells. In addition, more people can be hired and trained to weatherize low income homes, which would provide jobs (that cannot be exported) to the un- and under- employed while at the same time reducing the utility bills of those who can least afford to pay them, and reducing energy consumption.
It is a bold plan to revitalize the economy and save our earth at the same time. Largely in response to Van’s Ware lecture, the UUA has retooled our legislative objectives for the coming Congressional term, in order to make more explicit our commitment to not just addressing climate change, but our current unjust economic systems. Our legislative objectives with respect to environmental justice are:
- Mandate a reduction of U.S. carbon gas emissions, as recommended by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), while relieving the burden of increased energy costs for lowincome households
- Create millions of green jobs to transition the U.S. to a green economy and to lift people out of poverty
This week, Van Jones’ new book was released, The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems, where he explains the ideas and proposals that he outlined in his Ware lecture in detail.
It’s not often that we will suggest buying something as an “action” to better the world. But strong initial sales of this book will cause the media to take notice, giving it more exposure and thus generating more sales and bringing “green economy” into the consciousness of more people. Strong sales will empower our ally, Green For All, and the entire environmental justice movement to advocate for a morally just economy – one that protects both nature and all humans. So we do urge you to buy the book (if you can afford it. Read it, and talk about it with friends, family, coworkers and neighbors. And while you’re at it, Urge Both Presidential Candidates to Support a Green Economy. We have the power to make “green economy” a household term, to change the way that people think about energy and who controls it.