By Contributor on July 21, 2010

By Jerome Ringo

Just because BP seems to have stopped the oil spill does not mean we should go back to business as usual in the Gulf.

I’ve been visiting Gulf Coast communities over the last three months, and I’ve seen the despair.

The people of the Gulf need job opportunities — but not in the oil and gas industries that have taken such a heavy toll on the health and environment.

What we need are clean energy jobs. And the only way we’re going to get them is through government policies that put our economy on a clean energy trajectory.

We’ve heard a lot over the last three months about how clean energy policies can stimulate the economy and create green jobs. President Obama mentioned this in his Oval Office speech about the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico.

But so far, our leaders are only talking about clean energy — not actually doing anything to promote it. Talk does not create jobs; action creates jobs.

I’m living proof that you can transition from the fossil fuel industry into clean energy. I worked for 20 years in the oil and petrochemical industries in Louisiana, and now I work at a green company that helps ports reduce their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.

I’m definitely not alone. Over the last decade, green jobs in the United States grew at more than twice the rate of overall jobs.

But with unemployment still in the double digits across the nation, and the people on the Gulf Coast struggling to survive, we need far more clean energy job growth than what we’re seeing right now.

This will only become a reality if the U.S. government passes policies that send a strong signal to businesses that our country is making a long-term commitment to a clean energy future. Businesses need this signal to know how to invest, and, with this signal, they will move in a direction that creates many more jobs in areas like renewable energy and electric cars for people like me who once worked in oil and gas.

The window of opportunity for adopting meaningful federal clean energy policies is closing. The Senate needs to pass a clean energy bill before the end of the summer because after that, our national politicians will turn all of their attention to the November election.

Another window of opportunity is also closing: to let people of the Gulf Coast know that our government recognizes their pain and is capable of taking decisive action to create good jobs in the clean energy sector.

I fear that without a strong bill to stimulate clean energy job growth, the hopelessness of the Gulf Coast — and the people’s loss of faith in both business and government — could have a ripple effect.

For the Gulf and for the country, we’ve got to promote clean energy and good jobs.

Jerome Ringo, former president and current board member of the Apollo Alliance, is senior executive for global strategies for Green Port, a private company that focuses on establishing sustainable green ports around the world. He can be reached at pmproj@progressive.org.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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