Green for All: Linking the PhDs and the PhDos

Van Jones, the evangelical founder of Green for All, gave an inspiring sermon-esque talk at the Personal Democracy Forum in NYC on June 23-24, 2008 addressing "How Social Technology Can Help Solve Global Problems."

Green for All: Linking the PhDs and the PhDos
Photo: Dave Malkoff, Creative Commons, Flickr
"We’re at a situation now where the scariest channel on TV is the weather channel,” Jones said. “The economy is now in the toilet and starting to swirl."

Jones explained that we can’t "opt out" of the economy and that we may soon face stagflation, the worst possible economic condition, where energy prices go up, causing all prices to go up, and also causing employment rates to go down.

Stimulating the economy will result in "baking the planet," but not stimulating the economy will lead to social unrest.

His solution: Beat poverty and pollution at the same time.

"There is an economic future out there," he said, "That is green, that is inclusive." If we prioritize global warming, we’re going to have to tap into a great deal of human capital (after all, war is a great economic stimulator and this is a war on emissions, pollution and waste). Beating global warming is going to require "thousands of contracts, millions of jobs, billions of dollars of investing."

But "let me tell you what’s standing in the way," he said. "What’s standing in the way is all the people that can create that future don’t know each other."

There isn’t a platform for communication between everyone that needs to be involved in this future – the eco-entrepreneurs, prison re-entrants, construction workers, academics. The "PhDs and the Ph-Dos," as Jones calls them.

"The next step is how do we aggregate the wisdom that we have," he asked, in addition to the data "to create more social capital?"

He stressed the importance of combining the green technology and information technology revolutions to realign the country and to connect "the people who most need work with the work that most needs to be done."

"You are a small and critical minority," he said, "you have to help us."