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The Green Collar Economy: How One Solution Can Fix Our Two Biggest Problems Hardcover – October 7, 2008

3.9 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. As the "ecological crisis nears the boiling point," human rights activist and environmental leader Jones (president of the national organization Green For All) lays out a visionary, meticulous and practical explanation of the two major challenges the U.S. currently faces-massive socioeconomic inequality and imminent ecological catastrophe-and how the current third wave of environmentalism, the "investment" wave, can solve both. If industry players want to take advantage of growing consumer demand for green solutions, they'll have to follow principles of inclusiveness as well as conservation and inventiveness to create "broad opportunity and shared prosperity" for citizens at all levels of society. Rife with statistics, facts and history lessons, Jones introduces a "Green New Deal," a re-imagining of FDR's original New Deal that makes the government "a partner" (as opposed to a "nanny" or "bully") of the people, and sets about defining the principles of a "smart, supportive, reliable" partnership. Jones examines success stories from around the world (included close looks at Chicago and Milwaukee), defines government priorities at national and local levels and offers concrete solutions; one major positive step for any "significant U.S. metropolis" is to "invest massively in constructing buses, light rail cars, and mass-transit projects," creating good jobs while cutting greenhouse gases. With both caution and hope, Jones concludes that "tens of thousands of heroes at every level of human society" will be needed to carry off this third, and perhaps ultimate, green initiative.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“[Jones] new book -- which details how an ambitious public spending program on energy efficiency and renewable energy can stimulate the economy and create good jobs for the poor and unemployed -- couldn’t have landed at a better time.” (Washington Post)

“This book illustrates the link between the struggle to restore the environment and the need to revive the US economy. Van Jones demonstrates conclusively that the best solutions for the survivability of our planet are also the best solutions for everyday Americans.” (Al Gore)

“Van Jones has a unique ability to inspire people of all colors, classes and generations to uplift vulnerable people, while protecting our vulnerable planet. His sparkling intelligence, powerful vision and deep empathy are all on full display in The Green-Collar Economy.” (Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House of Representatives)

“The baton is passed to climate advocate Van Jones who clearly sees that our future must be green and must include everyone. His powerful new book ‘The Green Collar Economy’ shows us how to accomplish it.” (Laurie David, global warming activist)

“Van Jones’ authentic and passionate arguments trump the status quo. In The Green Collar Economy he holds the welfare of our neediest people front and center as he lays out a viable plan for the remainder of the 21st century.” (Tavis Smiley, Author, Television and Radio Host)

“Pay attention: we are witnessing the debut of a major American voice.” (Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest)

“It’s rare that someone with such a gift for speaking is able to convey the energy and excitement of his message equally well in writing. With The Green Collar Economy, Van Jones surpasses all expectations. The country seriously needs his take on the environment and the economy.” (Gavin Newsom, Mayor of San Francisco)

“Van Jones reminds us that the worst of times can also be the best of times-- that a nation with an abundance of resources it’s wasting -- beginningwith its youth -- has an enormous opportunity to stop foolishly bankruptingitself by chasing resources it is running out of -- like oil.” (Carl Pope, Executive Director Sierra Club)

“Jones accomplishes the super heroic feat of linking together the solutions for poverty, the energy crisis, and global warming. Van is a visionary of our times, and one of my personal heroes. Every relevant 21st century leader needs to read Van’s book.” (John Hope Bryant, Founder & CEO, Operation Hope)

“Van’s words echo the sentiments of many indigenous communities, who have endured the effects of coal strip mining, uranium mining and mega dams. The Green Collar Economy outlines industrial society’s path towards a just future.” (Winona LaDuke, Native American and environmental activist)

“Once in a very long while, a truly original voice enters our national political discussion--and changes the conversation for the better. [...]Van Jones does just that. The Green Collar Economy lets us envision a world in which the Earth and everyday people both thrive.” (Senator Tom Daschle)

“In The Green Collar Economy, Van Jones turns conventional environmentalism on its head. Watch out: this book could change everything.” (Larry Brilliant, Google.org)

“As the Earth warms and the oceans rise, the civil and human rights agenda must expand. No one has worked harder to level the playing field in the rapidly growing green economy than Van Jones.” (Ben Jealous, President, NAACP)

“In The Green-Collar Economy, Van Jones has penned a working man’s manifesto for the solar age. When green solutions finally catch on among everyday folks, Van and this book will deserve the lion’s share of the credit.” (Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Hip Hop Caucus)

“The Green Collar Economy is a both a rallying call and a road map for how we can save the planet, reduce our dependency on budget-busting fossil fuels, and bring millions of new jobs to America.” (Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund President and New York Times best-selling co-author of "Earth: The Sequel")

“Van Jones represents a new generation of environmental leader – one who sees the Greening of America as both a moral imperative and a nuts and bolts economic issue. His passion, intelligence, and idealism shine through every page of this must-read book.” (Arianna Huffington)

“Brother Van Jones is a visionary who spells out real solutions in black and white - and, of course, green. Van’s vision of a thriving, green economy doesn’t have throw-away things or throw-away people. It’s the kind of environmentalism everyone can get behind.” (Mario Van Peebles, actor and producer, Mario's Green House)

“Jones, the head of the non-profit Green For All and the author of the new book The Green-Collar Economy, could represent the future of environmentalism in America and a way for the movement to survive and even thrive through the coming recession. (Time)

“In looking at the bigger picture, Jones provides ideas for rebuilding infrastructure and creating alternative energy sources, which would have the double bonus of boosting the economy through increased employment and higher wages while decreasing our dependence on fossil fuels . . . recommended for all libraries.” (Library Journal)

“Van Jones is someone who makes you feel like an underachiever, no matter if you’re a NASA scientist or a captain of industry. . . . Echoes of his ideas can be heard among lawmakers from Sacramento to Washington...” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“Van Jones has made a national name for himself by finding one solution to three persistent problems: poverty, racial inequality, and the environmental crisis. He wants to solve these problems by creating green jobs filled by the poor and people of color—the groups often left behind during technological advances.” (Boston Globe)

“In less than two years, Jones has risen from local grass-roots organizer to shepherd of a national movement to build an inclusive green economy... Jones is making sure that our planet and our people will not just survive but also thrive in a clean-energy economy.” (Leonardo DiCaprio in Time magazine)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; 1st Printing edition (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061650757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061650758
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #357,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The Green Collar Economy covers a very important issue, at a very important moment in history, so I wish Van Jones had done a better job.

My largest complaint is that so much of this book (the first 65 pages) covers nothing but Hurricane Katrina and race relations. You would never tell from the cover descriptions or introduction that this really is a book about race and class. Van Jones comes across as obsessed with this issue, yet fails to convince me of a real connection between race and the environment.

Van Jones is also very non-specific throughout most of the book. He desperately needs more evidence, comparisons, and statistics to back up his claims. Not until the second to last chapter do we learn of specific policy solutions.

The Green Collar Economy also neglects some of the most important green issues. He dedicates less than one page to suburban sprawl vs. transit oriented development, which is really a paramount topic. Intercity rail is barely mentioned. He rarely brings up Europe, even though the US has so much to learn from them (How can you write book on anything green without drawing comparisons to Europe?).

Bottom line is I'm not sure who this book is for. Environmentalists will be unsatisfied with the lack of new information, and conservatives will remain unconvinced that Van Jones' proposals will actually work.
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Format: Hardcover
This book is clearly not what many readers expected. It is not a data-driven how-to book to solve the energy, environmental, and economic ills of the U.S. It is a position piece on the role of environmental causes as a basis for adding basic skills jobs in the U.S. These jobs are generally non-exportable (though imported laborers will compete for these jobs), but the materials used are generally imported (wind generators come from China and other places, as do solar cells and panels, even his humble caulk-gun and caulk is likely from China). This is a significant error in Jones' analysis - the assumption that things currently made in the U.S. will continue to be made in the U.S. Since the writing of his book, we now import alternative energy production materials. These jobs have been exported as well.

This error should not detract too badly from Jones' basic message; there is a lot of work to be done in the U.S. to improve the energy efficiency of existing buildings, retrofitting buildings with solar, wind, and/or geothermal systems, assessing existing buildings for cost-effective improvements, and the list goes on.

Jones' does take up the mantle of the "new" environmental movement, one which focuses on the relationship between race and being green. In this movement it is no coincidence that the Katrina response was nearly nonexistent while flooding in Iowa and elsewhere along the Mississippi River a few years earlier immediately brought out thousands of state-funded and federally-funded efforts to "save" the unfortunate residents along the banks of the river. When the victims of catastrophe were shades of brown less effort was made than when the faces of the victims were white.
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Format: Hardcover
As someone who is interested in energy and the environment, I took the book from the library in order to get an in depth view from the "green" side of propositions for rational (economy-wise) "green" policies.
I was sorely disappointed.
The book spends a lot of pages on irrelevant racial justice issues. If I wanted to read about the misbehavior of sheriffs of Gretna LA to hurricane Katrina survivors, I would have taken a book on hurricane Katrina.
On the other side, the book is very light on details. For example, "cutting emissions to California's per capita level would allow the U.S. to surpass Kyoto targets". What are the Kyoto targets, where is California with regard to that, how do you extrapolate from California to the rest of the country.
It mentions that we may run out of Uranium and coal. When? Based on what rates on consumption?
A lot of emphasis is given to weatherizing homes. However, the author does not talk how it can be done (e.g tax incentives).
There is no treatment of the cost of green energy and no mention of the true economical problems with going green (e.g efficient batteries and photovoltaic solar cells).
In addition to the missing details, there are glaring inaccuracies and biased information. For example, the author mentions that we can be completely get rid of both carbon based energy and nuclear energy by 2020. No mention is made with regard to the economical cost California is paying for its "green" policies, e.g driving heavy industries (and jobs) to other states; insufficient energy generation resulting in blackouts and brownouts; high energy cost (electrical and gas).
Bottom line: do not waste your time.
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Format: Paperback
I am speechless. The author seems to think he has credentials, but on nearly every page I see misunderstandings and complete or near-complete omission of information that any non-expert reader would need to have to make an accurate assessment of Jones's arguments. He gives in depth discussion of irrelevant issues and superficial treatment of all the issues which (once understood) are devastating to his thesis.

I can only conclude that his book is an intentional effort to deceive and confuse the layman. His primary purpose seems to be to obfuscate the key issues in an effort to make it as difficult as possible to identify the relevant facts from the irrelevant noise.
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