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What are green jobs anyway?

November 24th, 2009 · 35 Comments

As anyone not currently dead knows, one of the mantras at Vancouver city hall these days is that Green Jobs are the Economic Future. That has a few insiders scratching their heads, wondering what the heck green jobs mean anyway, as opposed to, say, just jobs that pay money.

Mayor Gregor Robertson really lights up whenever he talks about the subject and there’s been much discussion about ensuring that Vancouver’s industrial areas attract green jobs.

But what are they? Okay, I understand the really big differences. Mining is not green, for the most part (except that it gives us the metals we need to produce our wireless devices, which allow us to avoid using paper, so maybe it is). Building bicycles out of recycled pop cans is green, I suppose.

But often when I hear examples given about what green jobs are, I’m kind of underwhelmed. Typically, what I hear is things like “weatherizing windows to prevent heat loss.” Hmm, seems like just another grunt job reclassified. It reminds me a bit of the way anyone who did anything with a computer became a “high-tech job” during the high-tech boom. Something we don’t hear about so much now.

Or, at the upper end, the jobs seem to be along the lines of architects who do green architecture. So they’re still doing the same job, but a different way. Again, kind of like we’re all doing these days. (You could even say I’m part of the growing green economy since I don’t commute in order to do my journalism jobs any more and I have become very good at not printing things out on paper, because my printer is cranky and erratic and I’m too distracted to go out and buy a new one.)

Anyway, in my quest to learn something and seem less like a Luddite and/or old fogey, I stumbled across this story in the Los Angeles Times, which provides a little context to all of this, including some discussion of the “green jobs myth” and the sterling information that plastics-free sex toys are part of the green-jobs revolution.

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