The Green Economy is being mentioned everywhere it seems. Open up a paper or magazine, listen to the radio or TV or visit a website or blog and chances are that it will appear as part of some story or other. It is certainly a topical subject and feels especially relevant in our troubled economic times when so much seems to be going wrong with our current economy. What is the green economy?

The Green Economy clearly has an alluring ring to it, seeming to promise a future more harmonious with nature, more attuned to the kind of tomorrow that many of us sense is lying ahead and yet at the same time also projecting a certain sense of hopefulness and prosperity. But what does it really mean beyond this pleasing, but fuzzy image in the mind — ask different people and you will get different answers. While there is a pretty wide agreement on some aspects other areas have generated a fair bit of controversy. Numerous industries and organizations are trying to climb aboard this train as it pulls out of the station, rebranding themselves as green economy enterprises and this feeding frenzy has confused things.

The green economy is a rapidly growing and increasingly important sector in the overall economy generating more than a trillion dollars in revenue and employing many millions of people. For example, a recent study commissioned by the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) estimated that in 2007, the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors generated $1,045 billion in sales and created over 9 million jobs in the US.  In another example, the US market for organic foods was estimated to have reach $23 billion in 2008, with more than 4 million acres of cropland and pasture being certified as organic.  This represents around 3% of all food and beverage sales and has continued to grow at a very rapid pace of some 20% a year – growing from around $1 billion in 1990 to $20 billion in 2007 or by a factor of twenty times in less than two decades.

The green economy embraces such diverse industries as renewable energy production and electric energy distribution, energy efficiency and storage, organic agriculture, green transportation and green building – everything from energy efficient lighting, to electric passenger trains, to cellulosic bio fuels, to carbon capture, to home insulation.  It is a very broad and diverse conglomerate of very different industries that are bound together by the common thread of working to lower raw material and energy consumption and to produce goods and services in a manner that is less damaging and more sustainable over the long haul.

It is very hard to pin the green economy down to some specific and neatly defined activity. It is so vast and it is so varied that it escapes easy definition — and yet – there does seem to exist some common thread that ties all of these various and diverse industries and services together under the mantle of the green economy. There is a commonly understood sense of what it is in fuzzy terms at least and maybe that is because it is a fuzzy entity.  One thing is clear.  The green economy is a vital and rapidly growing force in our world.   It is rapidly becoming the most vital driver of our future prosperity–perhaps the very best or even the only shot we have at having a future that remains prosperous.

What what do you think the green economy is?

© 2009, Chris de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Chris de Morsella (146 Articles)

After a decade performing as a lead guitarist for rock bands, Chris de Morsella decided to return to the career his uncle mentored him in as a youth....Software Engineering. Since that time he has thrown himself into his work. He has designed a compound document publishing architecture for regulatory submissions capable of handling very large multi-document FDA regulatory drug approval submissions, for Liquent, a division of Thompson Publishing. At the Associated Press, Chris worked with senior editors at facilities around the world, to develop a solution for replacing existing editorial systems with an integrated international content management solution. He lead the design effort at Microsoft for a help system for mobile devices designed to provide contextual help for users. Chris also helped to develop the web assisted installer for LifeCam2.0, the software for Microsoft’s web cam and developed late breaking features for the product He also served with the Rhapsody client team to redesign and build a major new release of Real Networks Rhapsody client product. His most recent assignment has been Working with the Outlook Mobile Time Management team for the next release of Outlook Mobile for the SmartPhone. Chris' interests are in green building and architecture, smart grid, the cloud, geo-thermal energy, solar energy, smart growth, organic farming and permaculture. Follow Chris on Twitter.

  • daniel maris

    Recycling is one activity that wasn’t highlighted in the article but is very important and increasingly so as technological advances allow us to recycle more and more products.

  • Chris de Morsella

    Thank you Daniel for pointing this oversight out. Recycling and more in general looking at current waste streams for opportunities to extract usable resources from them before they are disposed of is a central aspect of a sustainable economy. Again thanks for pointing this out.