Friday, November 16

Post-Carbon Jobs

I talked about some of the thoughts my unemployment is triggering here, more today. So much of our economy is about buying and selling stuff! We don't make as much of the stuff in the US today, instead moving those jobs to places where labor is cheaper. We know we're over-buying. How many of the decorating shows on cable really start with going through and making sure only the stuff you need is in your house?

Imagine then, it's some period in the future and for some set of reasons, peak oil, the US signing on to Kyoto or something even more aggressive, scads of people walk away from retail jobs and buying and instead engage in a new economy.

What might that economy be based on?

A short-term answer might be found in Al Gore's call in September for "...a global Marshall plan to make the creation of jobs around the reduction of carbon the central principle ..." (FT.com 9/27/2007) So that's a whole bunch of people who are at work blowing insulation into walls, insulating basements, replacing windows, and installing tankless waterheaters. And maybe a whole bunch of people administering programs where the energy saving from those efforts goes to pay for them. Also people installing more solar, and perhaps building trades that make additions to buildings like shades and overhangs.

But let's accept that while many Americans would love to have stable blue-collar jobs that paid a living wage and they're willing to do physical labor for it, there's another set of folks who won't.

So a second group of folks is available to re-populate grocery stores. Having more hands might make it economical to have grocery store become a kind of farmer's market... where the bulk of items sold are locally produced and are shelved with a few staples that are mass-produced. We might still do our own checking out, but imagine buying bags of in-store ground wheat.

A third group of people might be enabled to make a living doing creative work like performing music live, innovations in theater, busking, small scale publishing and things like that.

Judging by Gore's accepting a position with the Venture Capital firm Kleiner Perkins, my thoughts are only scratching the surface. What do you think a post-carbon economy would look like?

1 comment:

Ethan said...

I am intrigued by Green For All. They seem to be combining the ideas you express here with a mission of social justice.


The Community Weatherization Project in Portland is another interesting example of what you discuss.

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NotSoBigLiving is the story of a woman inspired by Sarah Susanka, Bill McKibben, Airstreams, Tumbleweed houses, Mennonites, Jimmy Carter, hippies, survivalists, Anasazi, Pema Chodron and Joko Beck, Scott Peck, Buckminster Fuller, and Al Gore to see what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint in her mid-80's suburban townhome. Strategies include roommates, alternative travel, organic eating, planting a victory garden, mindfulness, and a belly full of laughter.