Economic Development News & Insight


Defining the green economy

Kristina Ross / April 12, 2013


Defining the green economy

Wikipedia explains a green economy as a system “that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.” In short, a green economy is one that’s contingent not only on societal and budgetary welfare, but also ecological welfare. And while the traditional forms of economy have looked discouraging over the past decade, there’s never been a better outlook for America’s pluming green economy than right now.

The most plainly evident reason for our green economy’s growth is simple: Eco-friendly lifestyles are becoming more and more pervasive across the country. While twenty years ago you’d struggle to find anyone with a hybrid car, roads these days are filled with mass-produced vehicles that run on everything from natural gas to 100% electricity.

But that’s not to say all growth stems from the most prosperous subset of Americans who can afford to drive more expensive cars with cleaner footprints. In fact, according to a recent report from the Brookings Institution, the green economy offers more opportunities for every rung of the social ladder, as median wages in the green economy are an estimated 13 percent higher than median U.S. wages as a whole.

In light of all the current opportunity seen in the green economy, you’d think a promising outlook for the future should be a sure thing. Unfortunately though, the Brookings Institution’s report elucidates worries about the prospective state of the clean economy. In its closing statements, the authors note the most prevalent danger in the face of green economic growth: U.S. policy. With international wars, educational reforms and other policy efforts slated above sustainability on congressional and executive dockets, it’s tough for the green initiatives to get the funding and attention they require.

However, at least in some regard, the future of the green economy depends on our own involvement as a society. Provided we continue to expand our dedication eco-consciousness, there will come a time when policymakers can’t help but shift attention to environmental concerns. Once that happens, we’ll be closer than ever to a self-sustaining, healthy green economy than ever before.

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