Authors: Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO
Originally posted on Huffington Post
Did you know that your chances of falling down on the sidewalk increase the more you walk?
Did you also know that your likelihood of getting sunburn rises when you are out in the sun longer?
Somehow, those revelations didn't make the pages of the Los Angeles Times. Here's what did: citing that the number of people employed in the solar industry doubled last year to 100,000 workers, and that the wind industry now accounts for 75,000 jobs, an article concludes that more accidents are happening today than in the past - in very alarmist tones.
Normally, I would try to ignore this kind of noise. But, as a strong supporter of the green economy, I can't let this one go. Quoting someone from the Industrial Wind Action Group (an organization virulently opposed to wind turbines) saying a windmill is going to fall on someone? I hope that person has never been around a building with more than one story, or she might panic.
This article portrays clean energy as some sort of Wild Wild West that's constantly putting people and communities in harms way. It's not. As with any profession - or any time you leave your house - there are accidents. But the safety of wind power is staggering compared to traditional energy sources.
Take, for example, the coal industry. In 2010, 71 coal miners died on the job, more than double the number the previous year. Many more are suffering from lung disease because they are exposed to hazardous materials on a daily basis.
Coal dust is a main cause of Black Lung Disease, otherwise known as Coal Workers Pneumoconiosis (CWP). Every year, an estimated 1,500 former coal miners die from CWP. Those that don't are forced to live with a chronic cough, shortness of breath, and other troubling symptoms. And, workers are not the only ones suffering from these conditions.
386,000 tons of hazardous air pollutants are emitted from coal-fired power plants annually, according to the American Lung Association -- toxins that are finding their way into our backyards, our local playgrounds and neighborhoods. They are causing tens of thousands of heart attacks, asthma attacks and emergency room visits every year.
Now, this is a dangerous industry; this is what should scare Americans, not the green economy, which is nowhere near as hazardous -- not for workers, not for consumers and not for the general public.
That said: any accident on the job is one too many. That's why we've got to make sure that all workers on green projects have the education, training and qualifications needed to do safe and quality work.
Green For All is proud to partner with a number of organizations -- Solar Richmond, Laborers International Union of North America, and others -- who provide highly effective training programs that help produce a highly skilled and productive workforce. We have, and continue to support these important programs, and urge others to as well.
The equation is simple: The more we invest in training, the less accidents we'll have on the job. Furthermore, as it grows, the green economy, will save more and more lives and create healthier communities, while opening new doors of economic opportunity for people long ignored.
Now, this is the story that needs to be written about more often. That it's not poses the real danger to our communities.