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What’s thwarting the green economy? Your comments

Last week’s episode of Need to Know centered on the much-discussed notion of “green jobs.” As China and other countries speed ahead in the renewable energy sector, Americans are struggling to keep up. President Obama has been pushing for federal support of renewable energy industries in the U.S, but as our report from the solar energy sector in Greenville, Michigan, showed last week, creating jobs in green technology isn’t as easy as it might seem.

So what does it take to create a green economy, and what’s currently standing in its way? On our Facebook page, commenter Heidi wrote that strong leadership and public will are both lacking:

Everyone actually has to believe that alternative power works. Since we have a large population that wants gas, and coal and don’t believe that change needs to happen, then I don’t see how it can work. Until we run out of our current resources, we won’t do anything about it. That’s why we are failing and falling behind other countries. We used to be leaders, not anymore.

On our website, Jimbo1672 wrote:

No doubt some proponents of the green economy have overstated its near-term potential but the fact remains that if we want to continue to inhabit this planet, we’re going to have to change the way we live, and do it in a big way.  This goes far beyond how we produce energy:  it includes designing our homes to be more smaller and more efficient; learning to produce products that have a much smaller ecological footprint  … basically planning for the entire cradle-to-cradle product lifecycle; changing the way use our public and private outdoor spaces … Making these changes will probably create net jobs, at least in the short term, but we need to make them regardless.

If we end up with less jobs, the obvious solution is to embrace job sharing, which is being used very successfully in Europe.  Personally, I wouldn’t mind trading a little money for more time and a nation less burdened by poverty and disease.

Another commenter, Maherarar187, points to solar powered satellites as a solution:

Green economy? Bull. It’s a subsidy for businesses that can’t compete fairly, & a sham. Terrestrial solar cannot power a modern economy … Not to mention the fact putting thousands of acres into permanent shadow is NOT “environmentally friendly,” contrary to the fiction. Want genuinely green solar power? Support solar power satellites. It will create thousands of high-wage, high-value jobs. It will generate power at enormously reduced cost, which enormously increases productivity.

On Twitter, we asked, “Can green companies in the U.S. succeed against fierce global competition?” Txmattie replied:

Green Co’s can suceed in US but its competition isn’t global, it’s Congress inaction.

And Perspicacious01 wrote:

The answer is maybe. But if you just want to make big profits, probably not. On the other hand, if you want to help your country and the World become more energy efficient, independent, and create good jobs with reasonable pay … Yes … You can do that.

But the U.S. will not accomplish either. Because it would require the strong supports and protections by Washington from attacks by the special interests.

Do you think green companies in the U.S. stand a chance against global competition in the green technology sector? What do you think is needed? Let us know in the comments below, on Facebook or on Twitter.