SIMEON GANT: Why Go Green?

sac-button-SimeonOPINION -When we begin our discussion with youth about going green, we first ask them, “Do you know anyone with cancer, asthma, or birth deformities?” Most often everyone raises their hand. We then ask them if they know why the incidents of these diseases have risen over the past few decades.  Most draw blank stares of wonderment.  At that point, we have their attention.

With conviction, we tell Green Tech students, due to the release of industrial toxins into the environment, dietary and lifestyle choices, our exposure to disease is significant and preve ntable.

We then tell our students that government and private industry are investing billions of dollars into green, clean energy careers, because collectively we are determined to reverse these unhealthy effects of human impact on our environment.

Add in the impending threat of climate change, unhealthy eating habits, the rising cost of gas, oil, and electricity, the constricting grip petroleum has on our everyday lives, and our students begin to understand why change is critical. We inform our students that change is not only imminent, but that change brings opportunity.

The Green Tech curriculum identifies five core elements of industry activity that require the training and development of new employees in Manufacturing, Construction Trades, Utilities, Transportation and Ecosystem Management.

President Barack Obama recently released his revised climate plan to cut carbon (Co2) emissions and reduce greenhouse gas, the primary, man-made elements of Global Warming and arguably the cause of unusually extreme weather conditions.

The principal elements of his climate plan are:

  • Directs EPA to work closely with states, industry and other stakeholder to establish carbon pollution standards for both new and existing power plants; Green Tech Curriculum – Manufacturing
  • Makes up to $8 billion in loan guarantee authority available for a wide array of advanced fossil energy and efficiency projects to support investments in innovative technologies; Green Tech Curriculum – Utilities
  • Directs DOI to permit enough renewables project — like wind and solar — on public lands by 2020 to power more than 6 million homes; designates the first-ever hydropower project for priority permitting; and sets a new goal to install 100 megawatts of renewables on federally assisted housing by 2020; while maintaining the commitment to deploy renewables on military installations; Green Tech Curriculum – Utilities
  • Expands the President’s Better Building Challenge, focusing on helping commercial, industrial, and multi-family buildings cut waste and become at least 20 percent more energy efficient by 2020; Green Tech Curriculum – Construction Trades
  • Sets a goal to reduce carbon pollution by at least 3 billion metric tons cumulatively by 2030 – more than half of the annual carbon pollution from the U.S. energy sector – through efficiency standards set over the course of the Administration for appliances and federal buildings; Green Tech Curriculum – Construction Trades-Building Maintenance-Energy Efficiency
  • Transportation – Commits to partnering with industry and stakeholders to develop fuel economy standards for heavy-duty vehicles to save families money at the pump and further reduce reliance on foreign oil and fuel consumption post-2018; Green Tech Curriculum – Transportation and
  • Leverages new opportunities to reduce pollution of highly-potent greenhouse gases known as hydrofluorocarbons; directs agencies to develop a comprehensive methane strategy; and commits to protect our forests and critical landscapes. Green Tech Curriculum – Ecosystem Management

These are just a few of the government’s action agenda and private industry is determined to comply.  In order for our country to accomplish these goals set forth by the president (and aggressive California state law), it is imperative that we train our youth and prepare them to meet these goals.  Industry professionals continue to determine there is a shortage of skilled employees to meet these goals.

 The Green Tech message to these youth is that a conscious lifestyle change will garner healthier, longer living and the ability to obtain more than just a job, but a career of self-sustainability.

 Going green goes far beyond preserving trees and animals, and while those two things are significant, we implore a broader green agenda of healthier, more self-sustaining and prosperous lifestyle.

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By Simeon Gant

Simeon Gant is a government relations and public affairs consultant. He is the Executive Director of Green Technical Education and Employment (Green Tech). The community-based, non-profit organization provides career technical education services, to youth, emphasizing clean energy, energy efficiency and introduction to environmental studies. For more information, visit www.greentechedu.org.