Green, But No Green

Yesterday the New York Times published an interesting story about “green jobs.”  It found that, despite being the focus of government subsidies and targeted jobs creation efforts, “green” businesses really haven’t produced much green — in the form of cash payments to new workers and employees.

The article found that “clean technology” jobs account for only a small fraction of jobs nationwide, and that government programs to subsidize and stimulate creation of “green jobs” have largely failed.  Job training efforts also have not borne fruit.  And this story comes on top of other stories that show that much of the employment generated by “green energy” subsidies occurs in other countries, like China, that actually manufacture the wind turbines and solar panel devices that typically are the centerpiece of green jobs initiatives and the photo op backdrop for political speeches about those initiatives.

Amazingly — to me, at least — some green energy advocates say federal and state governments haven’t done enough to encourage green energy.  They bemoan the fact that Congress did not enact “cap and trade” legislation that would have made use of fossil fuels more expensive and therefore made green energy alternatives more competitive.  For now, however, people are paying attention to their pocketbooks when they are making energy choices, and green energy is losing out.

The article is a good illustration of how government forecasts and promises frequently end up for naught.  It also demonstrates that government efforts to redirect consumer sentiments are doomed to fail — at least when they ask consumers to spend more for unfamiliar technology that doesn’t seem to work as well as what they were using before.

Massachusetts’ Offshore Wind Farm

I’m delighted that the federal government has approved construction of America’s first offshore wind farm, which will provide most of the power for Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.

The wind farm I pass on I-65 in Indiana (via Google search)

The project was held up for nine years, partly because locals complained that the turbines would be an eyesore. I don’t know what they’re talking about. Every time I drive from Ohio to Chicago I drive past a wind farm, and I’ve always thought the turbines were beautiful. The Times article says opponents fear they will be an “industrial blot,” but they’re one of the most sleek and graceful examples of industrialism I’ve seen. They’re sort of organic-looking, so they blend in well with nature, and their size and the speed of their turbines make them a magnificent sight. Also, they just look clean and harmless – instead of emitting smoke, they seem to emphasize the purity of the air – which is fitting for what is perhaps the cleanest and most harmless form of power we have.

The beauty of these things shouldn’t be an issue, anyway. What matters is that they provide clean energy. The wind farm’s opponents worry that the turbines will ruin the “pristine beauty” of their coast, but they will make their community’s environment more pristine than the hidden smokestacks currently used for power. The people of Massachusetts should be proud to be national leaders in adopting this form of power.