Green Jobs to save the planet: American jobs on American lands

Water habitat restoration in Massachusetts.

At the recent Good Jobs, Green Jobs conference in Washington, DC, a lot of panel discussions were about living green: clean energy, green infrastructure, and the like. However there was only one panel discussion that was about being brown – as in moving earth, taking out roads, and getting hands and work boots dirty, all in the name of fighting climate change and fueling a stagnating economy.

The American Jobs on American Lands panel, hosted by The Wilderness Society and the Sierra Club, and moderated by The Wilderness Society’s JP Leous, focused on jobs that are putting Americans back to work helping public lands adapt to the unavoidable effects of climate change.

“Even if we turned off the CO2 tap tomorrow and eliminated all new greenhouse gas emissions, we’d still have decades of changing temperatures to deal with,” said Leous. “We need to be able to prepare our wild places for the effects of climate change – and these jobs are a major economic engine.”

These types of ‘adaptation’ green jobs include construction and other jobs that have been out of place in the current economic climate.

A University of Massachusetts study shows that a $1 million investment in forest adaptation work can create or save 29 jobs. That $1 million could also spur more than $2.1 million in economic activity in local communities, making the return more than $2 for every $1 put on the ground. Read more about adaptation jobs in Massachusetts.

Wetland restoration. Photo by Todd Harless, Courtesy USFWS.Panelists from companies that are putting these types of jobs on the ground said the jobs are having a positive impact.

Frank Hugelmeyer, the President of the Outdoor Industry Association of America, was also on hand to talk about how protecting those wild places help protect the $730 billion/year outdoor recreation industry.

The panel discussion isn’t the only place in Washington that people are talking about adaptation jobs. Recently a group of business owners and natural resource professionals visited Capitol Hill to tell their Members of Congress that America’s economy needs a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill that creates jobs protecting our natural resources from climate impacts.

Among them, Andy Brown from Asheville, N.C., helped deliver this message to Congress: Fund adaptation jobs.

His firm, Equinox Environmental, employs a dozen people in his hometown, from the office workers fill purchase orders to forest ecologists taking measurements out in the field.

“My company helps people protect, conserve, and use lands and habitats in a responsible way,” said Brown.

Jobs were one of the biggest reasons that Mike Chelminski and Lance Linkel from Thompson, Maine, came to talk to their Members of Congress. “We employ about 70 people at Stantec Consulting. The adaptation work that we do allows us to provide quality, well-paying jobs in the community,” said Chelminski.

Heavy machinery at a green jobs restoration site.Lance Linkel, owner and operator of Linkel Construction, described a typical job site on some of the adaption work that he and his company have done.

“On the job site you’ll see dump trucks, surveyors, craftsmen shaping stone – we enjoy what we do,” he said.

While Brown, Chelminski, and Linkel all have different stories to tell, they all had the same message to deliver to their Members of Congress.

“I hope Congress provides leadership to provide funding for mitigation and climate change adaptation,” said Brown.

Read about the benefits of adaptation jobs and adaptation jobs around the country.

Water habitat restoration in Massachusetts.
Wetland restoration. Photo by Todd Harless, Courtesy USFWS.
Heavy machinery at a green jobs restoration site.