Click our logo for the Sierra Club homepage.
Printer-friendly version Share:  Share this page on FacebookShare this page on TwitterShare this page by emailShare this page with other services

Al Mal Tiempo, Buena Cara

Por Javier Sierra

Habrá observado que últimamente el tiempo se está comportando de una manera muy peculiar.

En enero, las palmeras de la cálida ciudad de Tucson, Arizona, quedaron cubiertas de un manto blanco que nada tenía que ver con el polvo del desierto, sino con una nevada histórica por lo inusual. En la playa de Malibú, en Los Angeles, los niños no jugaban con la arena sino con la nieve que cubrió este símbolo nacional del clima cálido.

Mientras tanto, el noreste del país ha tenido uno de los principios de invierno más cálidos que se recuerdan, incluyendo Nueva York, donde no nevó en todo el mes de diciembre por primera vez desde 1877.

De hecho, según el gobierno federal, el mes de enero, en todo el mundo, ha sido el más cálido desde que se registran estos datos.

Ningún fenómeno meteorológico, sin embargo, puede adjudicarse a una sola causa, como el calentamiento global. Pero los expertos más renombrados de todo el mundo llevan décadas advirtiéndonos que el progresivo calentamiento de la atmósfera debido a la actividad humana causaría profundos cambios en el clima del planeta.

Pero mi intención no es asustar al lector sino darle razones para ser optimista, las cuales también son abundantes. Es decir, al mal tiempo, buena cara.

Pese a que el gobierno federal carece de una política energética que acabe con nuestra dependencia petrolera, los estados y ciudades del país están adoptando sus propias iniciativas para reducir la emisión de los gases que causan el calentamiento global.

Muchos temen, no obstante, que acabar con nuestra dependencia petrolera y optar por fuentes de energía limpias y renovables --como la solar, de viento o la geotérmica-- acabarán con millones de puestos de trabajo.

Sin embargo, pese a que nuestra dependencia petrolera ha aumentado en un 12% desde 2001, en ese período hemos perdido 2.7 millones de empleos. Y más del 75% de ellos eran trabajos bien pagados y de alta productividad, pertenecientes al sector manufacturero, uno de los que emplea más latinos.

Nuestra independencia energética tendría un efecto completamente contrario. Estas iniciativas tienen el potencial de revitalizar la economía y generar millones de nuevos empleos, cuyos nombres, en muchos casos, todavía ni existen. Y de remate, nos harían a todos más seguros ya que podrían eliminar todas nuestras importaciones de petróleo del volátil Golfo Pérsico.

"Podemos construir una economía fuerte y crear empleos al mismo tiempo que respetamos el medio ambiente y exploramos soluciones energéticas inteligentes", dice Carl Pope, director ejecutivo del Sierra Club.

El Sierra Club es miembro de la Blue Green Alliance (Alianza Azul y Verde), un grupo de más de tres millones de trabajadores y medioambientalistas que se centra en el calentamiento global, la energía limpia, comercio justo y la reducción de compuestos tóxicos.

Las organizaciones sindicales y medioambientales creen que los buenos empleos provendrán de inversiones en eficacia energética y tecnologías que protejan nuestro medio ambiente. Como dice Leo W. Girard, Presidente Internacional del sindicato United Steelworkers, "los buenos empleos y un medio ambiente limpio son importantes para los trabajadores del país. No podemos tener uno sin el otro".

Abundan los ejemplos de lo que lograría esta combinación. En Los Angeles, una organización comunitaria llamada SCOPE planea invertir $100 millones en renovar y hacer más eficaces 100 de los edificios en peor estado de la ciudad, especialmente los que se encuentran en los barrios más humildes. El proyecto creará 2,000 empleos, especialmente para trabajadores latinos y afroamericanos, según Elsa Barboza, representante de SCOPE.

Una empresa española de construcción de molinos generadores de energía de viento planea invertir $34 millones y crear 530 empleos bien pagados en Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, una ciudad devastada económicamente por el cierre de sus altos hornos.

Según un reciente estudio de la Sociedad de Energía Solar Norteamericana, para el 2050 en Estados Unidos podremos reducir en un 80% las emisiones de gases que causan el calentamiento global con sólo intensificar nuestras medidas de eficacia energética, y sustituir las fuentes sucias de energía con otras limpias y renovables, como la solar y la de viento.

Esta reducción de contaminantes es la que necesitamos para contrarrestar los catastróficos efectos del calentamiento global y para dejar a nuestros hijos y nietos un planeta habitable.

Y la mejor razón para repetir, al mal tiempo, buena cara.

Javier Sierra es columnista del Sierra Club. El Sierra Club es la mayor y más antigua organización de base medioambiental en Estados Unidos.


The Glass if Half Full
By Javier Sierra

You may have observed that the weather has been very peculiar lately.

In January, the palm trees in sunny Tucson, Arizona, were covered by a white layer that was not desert dust but actually flakes from a freak snowstorm. And on Malibu Beach, in Los Angeles, children did not play with sand but with the snow that covered this typical paradise of warm weather.

Meanwhile, the country's northeast region has had one of the warmest early winters in memory, including New York City, where no snow fell during the entire month of December for the first time since 1877.

In fact, according to the federal government, this January, throughout the world, was the warmest since reliable recordkeeping began.

No weather event, however, can be attributed to just one cause, such as global warming. But the world's most renowned experts have been warning us for decades that the progressive warming of the atmosphere due to human activity would cause profound changes in the planet's climate.

But my intention is not to scare you but rather to give you reasons to be optimistic, reasons that can be found all around us. In other words, the glass, indeed, is half full.

While the federal government lacks an energy policy that ends our oil dependence, states and cities throughout the country are adopting their own initiatives to curb global warming emissions.

Many fear, however, that ending our oil dependence and opting for clean, renewable sources of energy -such as solar, wind and geothermal- will eliminate millions of jobs. The facts disagree.

Our oil dependence has increased by 12 percent since 2001, and we have lost 2.7 million jobs in the same period. About 75 percent of the jobs were high-paying, high-productivity jobs in the manufacturing sector, one of the largest employers of Latinos.

Our clean, secure energy economy would have the completely opposite effect. These initiatives have the potential to revitalize the economy and generate millions of new jobs, whose names, in many instances, don't even exist today. And to top it all off, they would make us all safer because they could eliminate the need to import oil from the Persian Gulf.

"We can build a strong economy and create new jobs while respecting the environment and exploring smart energy solutions," says Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club is a member of the Blue Green Alliance, a nationwide group of more than 3 million workers and environmentalists that focuses on global warming, clean energy, fair trade, and reducing toxics.

The labor and environmental organizations believe that good jobs will come from investment in energy efficiency and green technologies. As Leo W. Girard, International President of the United Steelworkers, has said, "Good jobs and a clean environment are important to American workers--we cannot have one without the other."

Examples of this synergy abound. One Los Angeles-based community organization, SCOPE, plans to invest $100 million in retrofitting 100 of the buildings in worst shape in the city, especially those located in the poorest neighborhoods. This green project will create 2,000 new jobs, especially for minority workers, like Latinos and African-Americans, according to Campaign Coordinator Elsa Barboza.

A Spanish company plans to invest $34 million and create 530 well-paying jobs in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, a town economically devastated by the closing of a steel mill.

According to a recent American Solar Energy Society report, by 2050, in the U.S. we could reduce our global warming emissions by 80 percent by just intensifying our energy efficiency and substituting dirty sources of energy with others that are clean and renewable, such as solar and wind.

This kind of reduction of pollutants is what we need in order to counter global warming's catastrophic effects and to leave our children and grandchildren a livable planet.

And the best reason to repeat that the glass is half full.

Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. For more information, please visit www.sierraclub.org/ecocentro


Up to Top

The Glass if Half Full
By Javier Sierra

You may have observed that the weather has been very peculiar lately.

In January, the palm trees in sunny Tucson, Arizona, were covered by a white layer that was not desert dust but actually flakes from a freak snowstorm. And on Malibu Beach, in Los Angeles, children did not play with sand but with the snow that covered this typical paradise of warm weather.

Meanwhile, the country's northeast region has had one of the warmest early winters in memory, including New York City, where no snow fell during the entire month of December for the first time since 1877.

In fact, according to the federal government, this January, throughout the world, was the warmest since reliable recordkeeping began.

No weather event, however, can be attributed to just one cause, such as global warming. But the world's most renowned experts have been warning us for decades that the progressive warming of the atmosphere due to human activity would cause profound changes in the planet's climate.

But my intention is not to scare you but rather to give you reasons to be optimistic, reasons that can be found all around us. In other words, the glass, indeed, is half full.

While the federal government lacks an energy policy that ends our oil dependence, states and cities throughout the country are adopting their own initiatives to curb global warming emissions.

Many fear, however, that ending our oil dependence and opting for clean, renewable sources of energy -such as solar, wind and geothermal- will eliminate millions of jobs. The facts disagree.

Our oil dependence has increased by 12 percent since 2001, and we have lost 2.7 million jobs in the same period. About 75 percent of the jobs were high-paying, high-productivity jobs in the manufacturing sector, one of the largest employers of Latinos.

Our clean, secure energy economy would have the completely opposite effect. These initiatives have the potential to revitalize the economy and generate millions of new jobs, whose names, in many instances, don't even exist today. And to top it all off, they would make us all safer because they could eliminate the need to import oil from the Persian Gulf.

"We can build a strong economy and create new jobs while respecting the environment and exploring smart energy solutions," says Carl Pope, executive director of the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club is a member of the Blue Green Alliance, a nationwide group of more than 3 million workers and environmentalists that focuses on global warming, clean energy, fair trade, and reducing toxics.

The labor and environmental organizations believe that good jobs will come from investment in energy efficiency and green technologies. As Leo W. Girard, International President of the United Steelworkers, has said, "Good jobs and a clean environment are important to American workers--we cannot have one without the other."

Examples of this synergy abound. One Los Angeles-based community organization, SCOPE, plans to invest $100 million in retrofitting 100 of the buildings in worst shape in the city, especially those located in the poorest neighborhoods. This green project will create 2,000 new jobs, especially for minority workers, like Latinos and African-Americans, according to Campaign Coordinator Elsa Barboza.

A Spanish company plans to invest $34 million and create 530 well-paying jobs in Fairless Hills, Pennsylvania, a town economically devastated by the closing of a steel mill.

According to a recent American Solar Energy Society report, by 2050, in the U.S. we could reduce our global warming emissions by 80 percent by just intensifying our energy efficiency and substituting dirty sources of energy with others that are clean and renewable, such as solar and wind.

This kind of reduction of pollutants is what we need in order to counter global warming's catastrophic effects and to leave our children and grandchildren a livable planet.

And the best reason to repeat that the glass is half full.

Javier Sierra is a Sierra Club columnist. For more information, please visit www.sierraclub.org/ecocentro


Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet"® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club. © 2014 Sierra Club.
The Sierra Club Seal is a registered copyright, service mark, and trademark of the Sierra Club.