Energy

Green Like Me!

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Via Instapundit comes this link to an excellent Economist debate between one-time Obama "green jobs" czar nominee Van Jones and Andy Morriss on whether the government should push green jobs like drug dealers supposedly push pot on grammar-school playgrounds.

Morriss says no way in a convincing opening statement. Snippets:

While the phrase "green jobs" evokes organic farmers and wind turbine repairmen, there is no clear, common definition of what a "green" job is. Without one, special-interest lobbying will transform even well-intentioned programmes. Consider corn-based ethanol, a technology with no redeeming features. Corn-based ethanol is bad for the environment, placing unsustainable demands on water supplies and increasing harmful farming practices. It is bad for people, raising corn prices for some of the world's poorest people. It provides little, if any, environmental benefit, with a net energy gain often close to or even below zero (the exact amount depends on the weather during the growing season, among other things). Yet corn-based ethanol has received billions in taxpayer support and continues to be favoured in so-called "green" energy legislation….

In 1870, coal heated people's homes, natural gas provided light, electricity had little practical application and gasoline was a waste product from kerosene refining. The great energy policy debates of that era were concerned with whether the world would run short of coal. No one in 1870 would have predicted that coal would become almost entirely an industrial fuel in plentiful supply, that natural gas would be used primarily to generate electricity and provide residential heat, that electricity would be in widespread use in homes and industry, or that gasoline would become an expensive commodity. We know as little about our energy future as our predecessors did about theirs and so we must put a premium on strategies that can adapt to new information, circumstances and ideas. That is what entrepreneurs do best. We should let them do it.

More, including chance to vote on who you think is winning the debate, here.

And here's more on the definitional issue, from an AP story about an attempt by Oregon to capture how many folks are working in "green jobs":

"We found employers have a broad view of what constitutes a green job," [an official] said.

Green jobs counted in the report include engineers and architects; farmers and fishers; salespeople and lawyers; carpenters and truck drivers.

And even though employers responded to the survey last winter, in the depths of the recession, they were forecasting green jobs would increase 14 percent between 2008 and 2010.

You don't have to be The Amazing Kreskin to know that "green jobs" will become even more numerous the minute that money gets attached to any sort of definition, no matter how phony or fake. In fact, I think now that I no longer edit the tree-killing version of Reason, I'm a green jobber too, out here in the new media landscape where the cyber-birds and bees are buzzing and humming with nary an emission of greenhouse gases.

All about ethanol, a really bad idea that has helped keep corn farmers rolling in subsidies and poor people paying more for food throughout the devleoping world: