indoor marijuana weed cannibisThe yearly greenhouse-gas pollution of the $40 billion per year marijuana industry is responsible for about 3% of all electricity use or 8% of household use. Indoor growers use high-intensity lights that are 500 times more powerful that a standard reading lamp. They also use several other high energy industrial practices. The closest comparison for these massive, industrial-style grow facilities are data centers, which consume about two percent of the nation’s electric power.
Among the many measures the world can take to wean itself off fossil fuels, few match the benefits of making homes, business, and cars more energy-efficient. But financial and psychological barriers have kept individuals, businesses, and governments from realizing efficiency’s great potential.
Many energy experts contend natural gas is the ideal fuel as the world makes the transition to renewable energy. But since much of that gas will come from underground shale, potentially at high environmental cost, it would be far better to skip the natural gas phase and move straight to massive deployment of solar and wind power.
The disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has reopened the debate over the direction the United States’ energy future is headed. Now more than any other time in history, citizens are beginning to understand the necessity to evolve past our love affair with oil. An economy that is dependent on a non-renewable, quickly fleeting resource can only move towards instability if alternative fuels are not found. The Congressional Budget Office is beginning to analyze how energy policies and initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions will affect employment in an economy that is trying to pull itself out of a recession. Democrats are pushing for a comprehensive energy bill that will enhance the production of clean energy technologies, put a price on emitting carbon, reduce greenhouse gases by a significant amount over the next 20 years, and influence entry into a range of new renewable energy industries. Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman are due to present their energy bill in the Senate next week. This bill, The American Power Act will be hard-pressed for passage without strong republican backing. The loss of republican Senator Lindsay Graham as a cosponsor of this bill is devastating. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said, “the oil spill showed drilling alone would not solve U.S. energy problems and that higher summer fuel prices will heighten consumers’ views that the country must move more aggressively into alternatives.” (Cowan & Gardner, 2010) If the country decides to aggressively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, this will have many significant implications for employment in our country.
Whereas corporate sustainability refers to the balance of the financial, social and environmental aspects of an organization, exponential sustainability is the achievement of such a synergy on a society level. This happens when companies begin to reach out and look beyond their own perceived interests. Companies are increasingly building coalitions and partnering with non-profits in order to achieve this goal, and in the process, realize several associated benefits.
Since the turn of the 21st century the amount of lobbyist spending in the environmental and clean energy technology sector has grown by more than 200%. Spurred by investment from private firms and the public outcry of an exorbitant amount of college campuses across the country, clean energy technology and climate legislation are taking the main-stage on capitol hill. The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 was passed last year in the House of Representatives and the Kerry-Graham-Leiberman bill is due out later in 2010.
Even as the climate science becomes more definitive, polls show that public concern in the United States about global warming has been declining. What will it take to rally Americans behind the need to take strong action on cutting carbon emissions?
There are a growing number of industries and sectors are making concerted efforts to rethink their business practice. It is important to be aware of the full range of your options when positioning yourself for green career change or you could be limiting yourself. To make sense of the industries and sectors that make up the green economy take a look at the green economy map.
On February 23, 2010 I was privileged enough to be a part of a conference call that took place between students from college campuses around Michigan and the environmental liaisons from Senator Stabenow and Senator Levin’s office. The conference call took place to discuss important environmental concerns from students all over Michigan, and what their policy makers are doing to move Michigan’s economy forward. My environmental economics class was able to draft a series of questions for the senators offices and listen to the senators position’s on these issues.