January 25, 2009 | General

Editorial: Toot Your Horn

BioCycle January 2009, Vol. 50, No. 1, p. 4
Nora Goldstein

Green jobs’ appears to be the phrase of the day, especially as the nation’s unemployment rate moves to the highest in decades. And the national economic stimulus package, expected to be passed by Congress in the next few weeks, will tout job creation in the renewable energy sector, along with energy conservation.
So what does “Green Jobs” actually mean? A report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, “Green Jobs in U.S. Metro Areas,” was released last October, identifying “to the finest precision possible’ the number of workers employed in green activities. Its definition of green activities included several areas covered in BioCycle, including generation of electricity using renewable fuels, agriculture jobs supplying crops for transportation fuel, renewable power generation, installation of energy and pollution management systems and government administration of environmental programs. Biomass to energy is discussed, including wood combustion, as well as electricity generation from landfill and digester gas.
But job creation potential from green activities extends well beyond the renewable energy sector. We are continually asked why communities should select composting and anaerobic digestion over disposal or incineration, especially when there is plenty of disposal capacity in North America. The answer, at its most simplistic level, is the waste stream is too valuable to throw away or burn. We need those resources to rebuild soils, restore water quality and conserve water, replace virgin materials with recycled feedstocks, and the list goes on. We need those resources to generate renewable energy. We need those resources out of the landfill to avoid methane generation – a greenhouse gas that is 72 times more potent than carbon dioxide in a 20-year time frame. And the process of recovering those resources – from separation to processing to utilization – creates sustainable, local, green jobs.
From the Oval Office to City Hall, from Wall Street to Main Street, a lot of attention will be focused in 2009 on job creation and economic stimuli. Now is the time to stand up and toot your horn. Let elected officials at all levels of government know you are there, recovering resources, combating global warming, contributing to the local economy and yes, creating Green Jobs. This is the time to toot your horn and say we have solutions to our community’s serious environmental and economic challenges.
And while we all are doing a little horn tooting, with this January issue, BioCycle is officially in its 50th year of publishing. We’ve been tooting our horn about this for a while, and are excited to celebrate our anniversary at the BioCycle International Conference 2009, April 27-30 in San Diego, California, and throughout this year in the pages (print and web) of BioCycle. Thank you all for the tremendous contributions over the past 50 years that today allow us all to toot our horns.

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