Some may question the source - an economics professor at the University of California-Berkeley doing research funded in part by a nonprofit California organization that advocates increased usage of green technologies. But David Roland-Holst’s study of the economic arguments of going green merits close examination.
In his report issued Monday, Roland-Holst makes a strong argument that conserving energy and reducing the use of fossil fuels can do more than just improve the environment. It can also improve the economy. He calculated that the nation’s most populous state expanded its economy over a 35-year period by adopting energy-efficiency measures.
The study found that California created 1.5 million jobs with a total payroll of $45 billion from 1972 through 2006 because residents of that state took money they saved on energy bills and spread it to other parts of the economy. He found that California reduced its per capita use of electricity to 40 percent below the national average, amounting to $56 billion in savings that were realized by requiring that appliances and buildings adhere to stringent energy-efficiency standards.
Arguments in favor of conserving energy have tended to focus on the environmental effects of reducing the use of fossil fuels. The benefits are widely believed to include the reduction of greenhouse gases that lead to global warming. But even if that science is flawed, as some still contend, the economic gains alone could make energy disversification worth pursuing.
Certainly, there are trade-offs in any transition of this magnitude. But if additional data can be developed supporting the position, a “green” economic future may be much brighter than many believe.