Is ‘Going Green’ Killing Our Economy?

Guest Post Author Bio: Corey is the author and creator of 20’s Finances. His personal finance blog offers great ways to save money as well as tips to plan for the future.

With the movement of environmental concern, the world is in flux. My grandparents’ era of sitting around the breakfast table reading the newspaper is long gone. We now get news on our IPAD’s or smart phones and news comes to us so much faster. We are able to get word of the latest crisis around the world in seconds or minutes as opposed to hours, days or even weeks. The shift towards improved technologies has been assisted by the movement of environmental awareness. Scientists affirm that today is the day to bring about change. But, is it really the best time to start making radical changes? Many people ask if this is the best time to bring about change because of the vulnerable state of our current economy. Wouldn’t making radical changes to our infrastructure only hurt our ability to meet the upfront costs of switching to renewable energy?

The Change is Happening

Whether we like it or not, change is already happening. We are seeing newspapers go out of business. I remember the first time that I saw a representative from the local paper in the grocery store. I am sure many of you have seen this yourselves. Newspapers are so desperate for subscriptions that they have moved to the grocery store to give away free papers with the hope of luring in new subscribers. Unfortunately for them, the internet has taken off. Most likely, we have seen the end of an era for small town newspapers.

I know from personal experience how this trend is contributing to many people losing jobs. I grew up in a small town in the northwest. The major employers of this town were paper mills. There were at least two major paper mills in the town and provided a great way for people to make a living, especially for those without a college education. Many of my cousins, aunts and uncles worked for these paper mills. As the demand for paper has decreased, so have the jobs. In fact, one of my uncles lost his job and was forced to return to school in his late 40’s to learn a new trade.

While the environmental movement is not the sole cause of this shift in the patterns of our everyday lives, it does contribute. The demand to protect the environment certainly has placed a strain on the economy. In a time like this, it makes one wonder whether it is really worth it.

Is it necessary?

With the weakened economy, wouldn’t it be easy enough to ignore this recent environmental awareness and continue on without any radical change? We should at least make the economy a little more stable before committing to any radical change, right?

Unfortunately, it seems we don’t have a choice. Bill McKibben, one of the foremost environmental activists, suggests that it is too late. He suggests that the earth has already changed and we will never be able to return to the same world. He believes in this so strongly that he is currently sitting behind prison bars for protesting the potential construction of a new pipeline.

This however may not be enough to convince you to jump on board and commit your resources toward furthering the environmental movement, especially in this questionable economy.

We Need to Adapt

While the movement toward going green may be closing certain jobs, it is also opening up new ones. The labor in the green industry is slowly expanding and providing long-term employment. If we continue with this mentality of holding on until the very end, it will be too late. We need to act now and adapt to the changing environment, just as my uncle did to relocate to a new labor industry.

The green movement is not only helping the economy on the macro level, but also on the day-to-day things. Reducing our consumption helps save money. By implementing ‘green frugal tips,’ we can significantly lower our expenses and save money. While it may be difficult in the transition period, it is necessary to change gears in order to fully embrace care for the earth as well as create new jobs. It seems to me that the green movement may offer the best option for creating new jobs and improving the economy.

What do you think?


Is ‘Going Green’ Killing Our Economy? — 18 Comments

  1. Although I have quite a few tree-hugging practices in my personal life (vermicomposting, organic gardening), I’m skeptical of just how “green” some industries claim to be. Wind energy, for example, has a high total invested energy component, and contributes to industrial pollution from rare earth mining practices in China (a wind turbine requires a great deal of rare earth minerals). Not necessarily an evil thing, just not entirely “green”.

    • @101. Agreed. I find it seems to be a battle of the lesser of two evils. I wish it wasn’t like this but it seems it is. There are few truly green practices out there. Hydro is another example. Sure it’s a renewable source of energy but eco systems are destroyed when the dams are put up. We really are stuck between a rock and a hard place sometimes.

    • Very good point 101. Going “green” certainly has its costs, both for the environment and economy. Scientists are urging people to consider the carbon emissions as one of the most important environmental issues. At the very least, it is something to consider.

    • I hope the universities are working on a wind turbine that uses fewer or no rare earth minerals. That seems like a good project for them if they could get funding for it. Aside from environmental concerns who wants to be dependent on getting rare earth minerals from China? They seem to have almost all of the world’s rare earch minerals there.

      • @Maggie. Dependency isn’t good. It causes an unsustainable demand. If we just rely on China for everything we will hit a time when they too have run out of resources. I like your idea about universities providing opportunities to work on sustainable sources of power.

  2. I won’t go as far as to say ‘Green’ is killing the economy. It is changing the landscape, sure – but “death”, I don’t see it.

    Innovation should not be viewed as a bad thing. Did the introduction of natural gas as a heat source “kill” oil and electric? Nope.

  3. I agree we need to adapt, and so does the economy. We need to protect the planet, and in doing so, change what we do, and what we profit from.

  4. People are changing the way they do things! Young people do not read newspapers or watch the evening news. That will have an effect on that industry. People are switching to electronic copies because of all the smart phones. These changes will occur whether because it is trendy or people are changing because of the products.

  5. It’s true that we have no choice. The problem is how big the changes must be. We can make small changes as individuals, but bigger changes will be necessary. Cars are a big part of the problem. The bigger dislocations will be challenging, but we are an adaptable species. I like the saying, “Live simply so that others may simply live.”

  6. Interesting Read. Change is inevitable. With technology these days, it’s not long until more jobs will be lost. But what’s the payoff between the economy vs going green? Tough..

  7. I think it is definitely changing things, and we just need to make sure that our country is able to keep up with the changes. Some of Canada’s biggest business is oil and forestry, which definitely needs to change !

    • I would agree. We are not immune to having a negative impact on our planet. We definitely need to start investing in greener technologies. I have been comforted as of late to see the efforts my own province has been making to implement more sustainable living. It is slowly taking off which is great.

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