Sunday, April 22 , 2018, 2:00 am | Fair 53º


Van Jones Visits Santa Barbara to Discuss ‘Green for All: The Next American Economy’

Environmental advocate delivers a visionary talk in the Marjorie Luke Theatre

Van Jones delivered a visionary talk Saturday to a packed crowd at the Marjorie Luke Theatre. People paid up to $150 to hear him speak on “Green for All: The Next American Economy,” a fundraiser for Quail Springs/Sustainable Vocations.

Jones was called President Barack Obama’s “green jobs czar” during the first year of the Obama administration.

He started his talk asking whether humans on this fragile planet will be locusts or honey bees. This, on the occasion of the birth of the 7 billionth person on Earth.

He talked about the dire situation for millions of Americans now who can’t find work and/or are losing their health coverage and/or housing. He also talked about the true American Dream that Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about. That dream has been inverted as those in the middle or at the bottom who work hard are cast aside, while those at the top are subsidized as “too big to fail.”

At the same time, he talked about the environment. What does saving the environment mean for rich and for poor?

For rich, it often means “saving the polar bears.” He talked of his own expedition with President Jimmy Carter and Ted Turner with National Geographic to see the polar bears in the arctic.

“We like them more than they like us,” Jones said.

For the poor, the environment is more likely to be about being flooded in Hurricane Katrina or being unable to afford healthful food and safe water.

Jones talked of the fourth quadrant of rich/poor and gray economy/green economy. That fourth quadrant is about how to make the green economy work for the middle class and poor. And the opportunity is there. It’s all about green jobs — putting Americans to work building sustainable transportation, farming and energy.

The government spends hundreds of billions of dollars each year subsidizing unsustainable transportation, farming and energy, Jones said. He emphasized that he is not against free markets. On the contrary, he would like to see a true free market without the subsidies for environmental destruction. Being “conservative” should be about “conservation,” he said.

At the prompting of a question, Jones praised those part of Occupy Wall Street who are challenging the problems in the current system. He said these people are not going anywhere. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube now.

He said it is not the 99 percent against the 1 percent, it is the 99 percent for the 100 percent.

Robert Bernstein is a local photographer and frequent Noozhawk contributor.

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