Thursday, January 29, 2009

Every job is a green job....

There's been a lot of focus on green jobs saving our economy. I think this approach is misguided because it's looking for a silver bullet to save us and that investment in research and development will create new jobs and innovation to lead us out. The model for this is the internet creating new jobs. The problem is that analogy is flawed because the internet as it developed wasn't about creating new technologies but instead building out proven technologies and incrementally improving old technologies. Most of the technologies of the internet in the early 90s had been proven and were highly reliable. The internet boom just replicated it en masse. It applied well known technologies to the masses.

The same thing is going to happen here with green technologies. We already know how to make cars more efficient, we have well developed hybrid technologies that would double the average miles per gallon if mandated. Houses in Germany have greatly reduced the amount of energy houses need. We also know how to logically partition homes such that heat is needed on demand in selective rooms, LEDs for lighting. We have the tools today.

So the question is not, how do we create new technologies but how do we systematically apply the ones we do. There are few processes in our supply chain and internal operations that cannot be tweaked and improved. For instance, think about the all the cardboard boxes used for shipping, we deliver products in cardboard boxes that are then recycled. Why not pick up the same shipping boxes and return them for reuse? Can we create more intelligent power systems that go into hibernation when not needed and come alive on demand.

What we need is to look at everything and make it a green job. Imagine how we can make packaging irrelevant. Amazon has reduced the amount of packaging. Imagine going to the Apple store and getting you iPod shuffle in a paper bag instead of a plastic box and selling plastic boxes when used as a gift. That is a green job, re-imagining packaging.

Can you imagine our recycling processes where compostable items are decomposed at point of disposal. Can we imaging corn starch based containers that dissolve and decompose when dumped into a landfills that sort automatically. There are technologies there that just need new application.

We shouldn't be looking for green jobs to create an economy, we should be greening all jobs and industries. We have enough work to do and that's a subsidy that makes a difference since we re-engineer our processes and that lasts from this point on.


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