GOOD

Good Green Jobs News for Your Friday Afternoon

There's good news—economic and environmental—out there on the green jobs front.

I was just about to write a post about a terribly depressing new climate science draft paper (PDF) by James Hansen and Makiko Sato about how we're sitting right at a tipping point that, when crossed, will all but guarantee multi-meter (as in six feet plus) sea level rise this century. And then I thought—it's Friday afternoon, and Friday afternoon is no time for depressing climate science.

Instead, here are some uplifting stories of the resiliency of clean and green tech jobs in the face of nationwide recession.


The Los Angeles Times wrote on Wednesday about California's strong green jobs growth, even as the credit crisis struck in late 2008:

Employers offering jobs in fields such as solar-power generation, electric-vehicle development and environmental consultation added 5,000 jobs in 2008, the latest data available. In all, about 174,000 Californians were working in eco-friendly fields by early 2009, compared with just 111,000 in 1995, said nonprofit research group Next 10....

he so-called green workforce expanded 3% from January 2008 to January 2009 — three times the growth of overall employment around the state. Standouts include the energy-generation sector, which includes renewable-energy efforts such as wind and hydropower. "There's very few business sectors that can employ people across every region, especially in a state as big as California," said entrepreneur F. Noel Perry, who founded Next 10.

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Then there's a Minnesota Public Radio report from yesterday about "green" manufacturing jobs holding and growing even in the teeth of the recession.

Manufacturing has been hit hard by the recession. But some Minnesota manufacturing companies are thriving and creating new jobs. They’re part of a small sector in the emerging “green economy.”...

Workers on a Brainerd assembly line, for example, are making a cutting-edge device that stores excess solar energy.

Silent Power manufactures specially designed batteries, housed in a box, that make the energy available later in the day, when utility companies typically struggle with peak power demand. The devices are being tested in pilot projects around the country.

“Every utility in the country is looking at adding battery storage to their system,” said Todd Headlee, the company’s CEO.

Headlee said the recession has had little impact on his seven-year-old company, because renewable energy is in high demand.

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Finally, over in Europe, Siemens is planning on adding 2,000 jobs in its renewable energy division this year. Bloomberg reports:

Siemens AG, Europe’s largest engineering company, will add at least 2,000 jobs at its renewable-energy division this year, as the business expands to meet rising demand for clean energy.

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Siemens has invested “hundreds of millions” of euros in wind energy since it entered the industry with an acquisition in 2004, Rene Umlauft, chief executive officer of the unit, said in a telephone interview yesterday. The unit employed 800 people in 2004 and plans to add to its current workforce of more than 7,000, he said.

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“We had a record order intake in 2010, and our goal is to increase orders by a double-digit amount this year,” Umlauft said.

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So there you have it. There is some good news on the climate and energy front—on the jobs front at least. The climate front, we can wait to talk about until Monday.

Photo (cc) by flickr user greenforall.org

Articles

The healthcare systems in the United States and the United Kingdom couldn't be more different.

The UK's National Health Service is the largest government-run healthcare system in the world and the US's is largest private sector system.

Almost all essential health services in the UK are free, whereas in America cost can vary wildly based on insurance, co pays and what the hospitals and physicians choose to charge.

A medical bill in the US

One of the largest differences is cost. The average person in the UK spends £2,989 ($3915) per year on healthcare (most of which is collected through taxes), whereas the average American spends around $10,739 a year.

So Americans should obviously be getting better care, right? Well, the average life expectancy in the UK is higher and infant mortality rate is lower than that in the US.

RELATED: The World Health Organization declares war on the out of control price of insulin

Plus, in the U.S., only 84% of people are covered by private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid. Sixteen percent of the population are forced to pay out of pocket.

In the UK, everyone is covered unless they are visiting the country or an undocumented resident.

Prescription drugs can cost Americans an arm and a leg, but in the UK, prescriptions or either free or capped at £8.60 ($11.27).

via Wikimedia Commons

The one drawback to the NHS system is responsiveness. In the UK people tend to wait longer for inessential surgeries, doctor's appointments, and in emergency rooms. Whereas, the US is ranked as the most responsive country in the world.

RELATED: Alarmingly high insulin prices are forcing Americans to flock to Canada to buy the drug

The New York Times printed a fair evaluation of the UK's system:

The service is known for its simplicity: It is free at the point of use to anyone who needs it. Paperwork is minimal, and most patients never see a bill. … No one needs to delay medical treatment until he or she can afford it, and virtually everyone is covered. …

According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the United States spent 17.2 percent of its economic output on health care in 2016, compared with 9.7 percent in Britain. Yet Britain has a higher life expectancy at birth and lower infant mortality.

Citizens in each country have an interesting perspective on each other's healthcare systems. UK citizens think it's inhumane for Americans have to pay through the nose when they're sick or injured. While Americans are skeptical of socialist medicine.

A reporter from Politics Joe hit the streets of London and asked everyday people what they think Americans pay for healthcare and they were completely shocked.

Health

Bans on plastic bags and straws can only go so far. Using disposable products, like grabbing a plastic fork when you're on the go, can be incredibly convenient. But these items also contribute to our growing plastic problem.

Fortunately, you can cut down on the amount of waste you produce by cutting down on disposable products. And even more fortunately, there are sustainable (and cute) replacements that won't damage the environment.

Coconut bowls


Cocostation

Who says sustainable can't also be stylish? These cute coconut bowls were handmade using reclaimed coconuts, making each piece one of a kind. Not only are they organic and biodegradable, but they're also durable, in case your dinner parties tend to get out of hand. The matching ebony wood spoons were polished with the same coconut oil as the bowls.

Cocostation Set of 2 Vietnamese Coconut Bowls and Spoons, $14.99; at Amazon

Solar powered phone charger

Dizaul

Why spend time looking around for an outlet when you can just harness the power of the sun? This solar powered phone charger will make sure your phone never dies as long as you can bask in the sun's rays. As an added bonus, this charger was made using eco-friendly silicone rubber. It's win-win all around.

Dizaul Solar Charger, 5000mAh Portable Solar Power Bank, $19.95; at Amazon, $19.95; at Amazon

Herb garden kit

Planter Pro

Put some green in your life with this herb planter. The kit comes with everything you need to get a garden growing, including a moisture meter that helps you determine if your herbs are getting the right amount of food to flourish. All the seeds included are certified to be non-GMO and non-hybrids, meaning you can have fresh, organic herbs right at your fingertips.

Planter Pro's Herb Garden Cedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazonedar Planter, $39.00; at Amazon

Reusable Keurig cups

K & J

Keurig cups are convenient, but they also create a ton of plastic waste. These Keurig-compatible plastic cups are an easy way to cut down on the amount of trash you create without cutting down on your caffeine. Additionally, you won't have to keep on buying K Cups, which means you'll be saving money and the environment.

K&J Reusable Filter Cups, $8.95 for a set of 4,; at Amazon

Low-flow shower head

Speakman

Low-flow water fixtures can cut down your water consumption, which saves you money while also saving one of the Earth's resources. This shower head was designed with a lighter flow in mind, which means you'll be able to cut down on water usage without feeling like you're cutting down on your shower.

Speakman Low Flow Shower Head, $14.58; at Amazon

Bamboo safety razor

Zomchi

Instead of throwing away a disposable razor every time you shave, invest in an eco-friendly, reusable one. This unisex shaver isn't just sustainable, it's also sharp-looking, which means it would make a great gift for the holidays.

Zomchi Safety Razor, $16.99; at Amazon

The Planet
Instagram / Leonardo DiCaprio

This August, the world watched as the Amazon burned. There were 30,901 individual fires that lapped at the largest rainforest in the world. While fires can occur in the dry season due to natural factors, like lightning strikes, it is believed that the widespread fires were started by loggers and farmers to clear land. Brazil's president, Jair Bolsonaro, cites a different cause: the actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

DiCaprio wasn't accused of hanging out in the rainforest with a box of matches, however President Bolsonaro did accuse the actor of funding nonprofit organizations that allegedly set fires to raise donations.

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The Planet