29 April 2013


When it comes to the environment, wildlife, wilderness, and overall human behavior, the news normally ranges from discouraging to dire.  All the more reason to celebrate the announcement that the growth of solar energy jobs in the U.S. is outpacing nearly every other sector.  To wit ~

"California, the state that the Hollywood film industry calls home, can boast 43,700 paying jobs in the solar industry in 2012, versus only 32,300 paid actors.  Texas clocked in with 3,200 solar jobs, in comparison to the state's 270 to 2,410 ranchers.  And across the entire nation, 119,000 Americans were employed by the solar industry in 2012, versus only 87,500 by the coal mining industry.

"All that is according to The Solar Foundation (TSF), which compiled its 2012 survey of solar jobs in the United States several months ago, and just released the numbers via a new interactive map.  That map also provides info on each state, including solar jobs per capita, number of solar companies, number of solar-powered homes, and the legal status of third-party ownership.

" .... TSF's work also determined that several of the top states ~ New Jersey Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Michigan, and Ohio ~ actually rank in the bottom 30 percent of states in terms of available sunlight.  The strong industry presence despite a seemingly unfavorable climate is thanks to 'high electricity prices and favorable tax and regulatory policies', as CNN Money put it.  Skeptics might consider that evidence of an artificial market created through government intervention, but then our national failure to properly price carbon emissions and natural capital is massively subsidizing non-renewable power in the opposite direction.

"Other facts The Solar Foundation dug up include a 13.2 percent job growth rate inthe solar industry from 2011 to 2012 ~ which added almost 14,000 jobs ~ versus a mere 2.3 percent growth rate in the overall economy."

This, along with the similarly-burgeoning growth of wind energy production, provides a ray of sunshine in an energy landscape fouled by the consumption of coal, oil, fractured natural gas, and the heavy clout which those industries wield among lawmakers and regulatory agencies.  While government continues to try to force down our throats ill-begotten projects like the Keystone Pipeline, offshore oil drilling in the fragile Arctic, coal mining, and other polluters and contributors to global warming, the solar and wind sectors have quietly been seeding a long-overdue revolution in energy production.

Here's to the insurgency.

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