Aaron Mair, national president of the Sierra Club, spoke in Peoria at the state NAACP conference and said it’s a “false trick” to protect the coal industry because it provides jobs. Now Robert Pollin, distinguished professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, presents research documenting there are more jobs in clean energy than in fossil fuels. His findings are published in his new book “Greening the Global Economy,” MIT Press. His research should be a game-changer for coal and other fossil fuels.
For us in the Midwest, don’t look for reassuring words about corn-based ethanol. Pollin finds that over a 30-year period, corn ethanol refined through a conventional coal-fired process generates emission levels that are 34 percent greater than burning gasoline. Over a 100-year cycle, corn ethanol and gasoline are more on par, but our urgency is the next 30 years. (This difference is due to the time lag before corn as a “carbon sink” counterbalances greenhouse gas emissions from combustion.)
Ethanol does better when it’s generated from switch grass and agricultural residue.
Pollin calculates 8.7 jobs created for every $1 million investment in clean energy compared with 3.7 jobs created for every $1 million investment in fossil fuels, a 135 percent advantage for green energy.