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

3.9 out of 5 stars 78 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, October 7, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

Provocative, personal, and inspirational, The Green Collar Economy is not a dire warning but rather a substantive and viable plan for solving the biggest issues facing the country—the failing economy and our devastated environment. From a distance, it appears that these two problems are separate, but when we look closer, the connection becomes unmistakable.

In The Green Collar Economy, acclaimed activist and political advisor Van Jones delivers a real solution that both rescues our economy and saves the environment. The economy is built on and powered almost exclusively by oil, natural gas, and coal—all fast-diminishing nonrenewable resources. As supplies disappear, the price of energy climbs and nearly everything becomes more expensive. With costs and unemployment soaring, the economy stalls. Not only that, when we burn these fuels, the greenhouse gases they create overheat the atmosphere. As the headlines make clear, total climate chaos looms over us. The bottom line: we cannot continue with business as usual. We cannot drill and burn our way out of these dual dilemmas.

Instead, Van Jones illustrates how we can invent and invest our way out of the pollution-based grey economy and into the healthy new green economy. Built by a broad coalition deeply rooted in the lives and struggles of ordinary people, this path has the practical benefit of both cutting energy prices and generating enough work to pull the U.S. economy out of its present death spiral.

Rachel Carson's 1963 landmark book Silent Spring was the pivotal ecological examination of the last century. Now, rising above the impenetrable debate over the environment and the economy, Van Jones's The Green Collar Economy delivers a timely and essential call to action for this new century.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne (October 7, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061650757
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061650758
  • ASIN: B003R4ZE8O
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #437,415 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book should be on the reading list for high schools and colleges nationwide - or at least in California. Excellent ideas, clearly written text - not just the usual rant about how bad things are and may become - concrete ideas to accomplish the results now, today, not some vague future time. Actually the book should be required reading for all potential and current legislators. At $6 per copy, even the Republicans could afford it.
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Format: Paperback
The quote below exemplifies why I love this book so much. I could not have said it any better.

"It is true that we don't have any throwaway species or resources. We don't have any throwaway children, throwaway neighborhoods, or throwaway nations either. Therefore, the green economy must do more than reclaim thrown-away stuff. It must also reclaim thrown away lives and thrown-away places. And it must reclaim the thrown-away values that insist we are all members of one human family, with sacred obligations to each other.

In the United States, especially, we have strayed far from these truths. The following facts are worth repeating. We represent only 4 percent of the world's population, but we are responsible for 25 percent of the world's greenhouse gases. And we now jail more than 25 percent of the world's prisoners. In other words, one out of every four carbon molecules superheating the atmosphere has our name on it, and one out of every four people locked up anywhere in the world is locked up in a U.S. jail or prison. Some say that number is closer to 50 percent. This is a disturbing testament to a profound moral failing: we are functioning as if we have a disposable planet--and disposable people.

We know deep inside us that all beings have value. All people are precious. All of creation has sacred, inherent worth. We must take a stand in defense of the children of all species--including our own."

~Van Jones

Filled with solutions and food for thought, this book is still as relevant today for fixing our economic/ecological crisis.
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