Rants & Reasons

 

 

An EnviroMonster Jobs Bill:

So, taking this thought experiment a step farther; let's say we have the ears of some of the super-wealthy, and collectively, we believe that our long-term economic stability is directly dependent upon a healthy natural resource base, then the United States priorities for jobs could be:

 

 1. Energy and Conservation Core for Homes and Businesses: Each municipality could have teams led by energy auditors, who do a complete inspection of every structure in the municipality. The auditors create reports detailing the conditions with long and short-term systems, structural, and energy upgrade recommendations. Efficiency managers and manpower coordinators could determine budgetary outlines, and the supervisors, tradesmen (plumbers, roofers, carpenters, electricians, etc.) and labor required for each “job”. The supervisors, who might also be inspectors or tradesmen, then manage each job to completion and submit the data on each. In some cases the home or business owners might cover some of the cost of these services. (There are already rebates and tax rebates on the books for energy audits, efficiency upgrades and “active” renewable energy sources such as solar and wind). In many cases, the lease holder or owner might pay zero up front costs. Much of the cost could be offset by freezing the utility bills for a sufficcient period. After that the consumer would see the reduced bills from reductions in water, electricity and natural gas use.   – Employs a ton of people.  – Should only require a small stimulus from the government (may prove self sufficient in many areas)  while substantially reducing resource consumption and pollution.  A lot of bang for a small buck here.

 

 2. Soil Conservation and Revegitation Core: – Similar functional structure to the Energy Core, but this one could be led by soil conservation specialists, gardeners and farmers. – Soil conservationists and master gardeners could work up a plan for each lawn or open area with the lease holder or owner. The ultimate goal is to fortify and conserve the soil and water. Owners, cooperatives or municipalities will also get the benefit when it is time to harvest. – Not all lawn areas should be in “conventional” crops. Some forest land, savannah and prairies should also be part of any land management program. The idea is to mitigate the damage caused by chemical pesticides and fertilizers, enrich the soils for long term sustainability and water retention. This could employ many skilled and unskilled workers. Homeowners could receive some subsidy for their participation. There would also be some economic or sustenance return from any harvests. Organic community farms, small farms and coops should be encouraged as much as possible; including hi-rise hydroponics for city dwellers.  Perhaps not quite as much immediate potential for off-setting the cost as the energy core; however, there will be annual yields and the long term benefits are undeniable and critical. Soil conservation will improve water retention, and water may soon become our most precious resource and commodity. This is something we must do, and immediately is not soon enough. Projects like these can employ local workers as well as service legions like Americore.

 3. Water Conservation Core: Efficiency, installations, Grey Water and Water Reclamation Projects:  Efficiency and installations here refers to fixing water leaks, upgrading plumbing, installing water control valves, low flow toilets and more water saving devices. Again, this should be done country wide. Grey water initiatives might require some municipalities to alter their building codes, and would predominantly employ plumbers and carpenters, but would also require draftsmen, designers, efficiency managers and labor. The idea is to recycle low level waste water from bathing or cleaning to be used again to flush toilets or water gardens, trees, etc... In some instances the water can be completely filtered and used again for bathing or even drinking. There are other water reclamation protocols besides homes. – Some related to flood control. – All are vital to our local and national stability, and can put a whole lot of people to work, while reducing utility bills for consumers. 

 4. Transportation Infrastructure:  From the standpoint of a resource-based economy, I think an over-emphasis on rebuilding 20th Century Infrastructure could permamently bankrupt the United States. Although, once an assessment is made, many bridges should be repaired or rebuilt before they collapse.We should begin building 21st Century transportation infrastructure as well. (applying a 21st Century conservation consciousness to the entire effort) This might include cleaning up the emissions from trains, converting more trains to cleaner biofuels or electromagnetics, possibly reinventing the trolley, community designs to optimize local delivery efficiency, and other resource conscious  initiatives. – Could obviously employ a lot of  people. - (Just a note here: If this were really a jobs bill, the focus is on putting people 'forward' to work, and stabilizing the 'real' economy. It is for the good of the people and the country. It's purpose is not to dole out a lot of private profit. If we keep this kind of thing as corruption and greed free as possible, the maximum number of jobs could be created in all categories )

5. Manufacturing: Many products that are made or grown outside the US could certainly be made here. Examples: Wind Mills, Solar Panels, fabrics, building materials, clothes and more. Many of these should be grown and / or manufactured in this country. Local, regional or community - based production should be emphasized to conserve resources and to pollute less. What, Why and How we make things are questions we need to answer before just diving into any production initiatives. - Think sustainably and let’s make it here...

 5. Domestic Farming:   Produce should be grown locally as much as possible for food, clothing, etc.. . Organic Farming needs to be emphasized and stimulated to enrich the soil, avoid pollutants and conserve water.. A limited amount of biofuel production may also be beneficial during a transition to a truly sustainable system. – These decisions need to be influenced by biologists, chemists, farmers, and soil conservation specialists. - I feel that everyone should have their hands in the Earth at least once every season. - And the more people we can have working the earth without chemicals and motors the better...  

 6. Energy Production.:  Conservation must be the heart and soul of our energy policy for any of this to work. If we significantly reduce our demand for energy, then renewables will play a more substantial role. We should pursue wind, solar, geothermal, the recycling fission reactor, a smart grid and other energy production innovations across the board to employ people and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. – We will be connected to oil, coal and natural gas for a long time no matter what we do. Even if we could stop drilling, fracking and mining tomorrow, we will still need workers and systems to manage existing wells and mines, and maintain the environmental integrity of every hole that we’ve dug, - in perpetuity…

 

7. Paradigm Shifts:  The key to sustainability is largely just reducing waste.. -  Our economy is riddled with waste and corruption. We can be more efficient at every turn. Whenever I hear a Washington politician bemoaning the corruption in Afghanistan, I’m amazed they don’t require the Heimlich Maneuver…  -  And logistically, it seems we should be subsidizing all forms of good (sustainable) behavior and progressively taxing all ‘excess’ consumption and pollution. And this shouldn't be done to shut the economy down, rather to stimulate the resource conservation part of the economy. (I view 'fiscal responsibility' in large part, as investing for the long term. If we can keep a healthier resource base, we should be able to keep prices from skyrocketing, which also helps more people to continue working in a conservation economy.– A 'Real' Economy works as long as we’re paying the ‘real’ costs for what we’re using. -Paradigm shifts in Housing: Foreclosure processes should probably be re-evaluated. – The cost of vandalism on foreclosed homes is enormous. There are many alternatives to foreclosure. (Refinancing, interest only loans, converting to rent or rent with option platforms…) It is almost certainly better to have someone with a vested interest inhabiting and maintaining a home, or any dwelling for that matter... 

 

 - This article is intended as food for thought, and perhaps more. I think every American should be thinking about what an intelligent jobs bill might contain, and advocating for proposals they really believe in. I always implore people to pause just to make sure they are thinking with their own minds. - It does seem that political, status-quo rhetoric is potentially worse than useless. Maybe we can help that to change.   "If not us then who? And if not now then when?" 

 Footnote: Much of this was derived from a Sustainable USA paper 3-31-09 

 

 

For the curious, inspired, relentless or sadistic (just kidding?)… -  on to Cooperative Problem Solving Experiments – (a potential curriculum)