Tuesday, Oct. 21, 2008 | 2:06 a.m.
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 there are also compelling economic arguments in favor of going green. An economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley, calculated that the nation’s most populous state greatly expanded its economy over a 35-year period by adopting energy-efficiency measures.
A study released Monday by David Roland-Holst 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.
This allowed Californians to spend more money on “in-state, employment-intensive goods and services, whose supply chains also largely reside within the state, creating a ‘multiplier’ effect of job generation,” Roland-Holst wrote. His study was financed in part by Next 10, a nonprofit California organization that advocates increased use of green technologies.
These findings could be good news for Nevada, as this state becomes more aggressive in pursuit of wind, solar and geothermal energy production. The development of renewable energy resources will not only produce jobs directly, but should also help Nevadans save money by relying less on energy from other states, particularly during peak summer use.
If Nevadans reduce their energy use, that will translate to additional savings that could be plowed back into the local economy, as in California.
Those who continue to insist that we cannot absorb job losses in fossil fuel industries are simply living in the past because such losses will be matched by the economic engine that Californians have proven can work by going green.