Van Jones announced his resignation today from the White House Council on Environmental Quality where he has worked in recent months as the “green jobs czar” continuing his efforts to promote green jobs as a solution for many of our environmental, social, and economic problems. He has come under pressure recently regarding past statements viewed as “radical”. I think that his resignation is unfortunate. I doubt that it will weaken government initiatives to encourage the growth of a greener, and healthier economy. But I worry that it might, and that this move may signal a greater round of down and dirty politics directed toward this end.
Jones has been portrayed as a radical of late, as a riot-loving, racist communist. There are probably a few connections or comments in his past that he regrets. But this should not have detracted from his work creating hope for the inner city and for people everywhere with better and cleaner jobs and businesses.
I guess the thing I’m wondering is if the pressure against him was about his statements or actions, or really about opposition to efforts to create green jobs, make buildings more energy efficient, and use more renewable energy.
It’s hard for me to believe that people can be opposed to such a thing. It’s as if someone were to say “I’m opposed to cleaning up the environment and creating jobs for people.” Which is the same as: “I am in favor of pollution, and against jobs and economic growth.”
What lies ahead still could be an even greater challenge–solving climate change. There is no lack of people who still loudly claim that climate change is not real, that it is a liberal fabrication. It is not. Climate change remains a clear fact and a grave threat to our future, despite efforts to obscure this. Solving climate change is one of the biggest challenges we face today (as well as one of the greatest opportunities to help ourselves and our economy), and a big part of the challenge is political. Opponents to action on climate change like the Waxman Markey bill will throw everything they’ve got at it in the months ahead. What we are seeing now could be just the start.
What does this mean for the green economy? I’m not sure yet. I’ve often said that going green is not an issue for one side of the political spectrum or another. Going green is viewed as a moral, economic, and security imperative, and as a business opportunity, by people across the political spectrum. But politics is a dirty game to be sure, so I’m not surprised by the latest events. I just hope that dirty politics does not equate with a dirty, and down, economy
Glenn Croston is the founder of StartingUpGreen.com, helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to start and grow greener businesses, and delivering the Green BizBlast to connect those seeking and selling green products, services, events, and opportunities. He is also the author of “75 Green Businesses You Can Start to Make Money and Make a Difference”, and the author of “Starting Green”, a nuts and bolts guide to starting and growing a successful green business (Entrepreneur Press, September 2009).