Van Jones is founding president of Rebuild the Dream, a pioneering initiative to restore good jobs and economic opportunity. He is the co-founder of three, thriving organizations: the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, Color of Change, and Green For All. Jones is the author ofThe New York Times best seller, The Green Collar Economy, and most recently, the book Rebuild the Dream.
A Yale-educated attorney, Van worked as the green jobs advisor to the Obama White House in 2009. There, he helped run the inter-agency process that oversaw $80 billion in green recovery spending. Time Magazine has named Jones one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.
Question: How do consumers navigate all of the advertising surrounding the green movement?
Van Jones: Well, the great thing is that we’ve won the debate. We just have it one enough power to implement the solutions that we need, but the debate has been won. It used to be that the polluters and the [IB] for the status quo will try to confuse people about whether there was a problem when you talk about global warming. Now, they’ve given up on that. We beat them on that frankly. Al Gore beat them on that. So, now they are trying to confuse people about the solutions to global warming, and so, you have this whole kind of rise of the dirty greens, you know, politicians who will still have the same status quo pro-polluter agenda but they’ll put solar panels in their ads, you know, they’ll put windmills in their ads. It’s kind of like green washing with corporations, we have the same toxic product but a new green label, you now have politicians, they’re the same toxic policies but they have new green commercials and people tend to get confused at first. But the great thing about, you know, it’s that people learn, people were confused about Iraq and now everybody figured out that, you know, it’s a very, very bad idea. People were confused about corn-based ethanol. A couple of years ago you couldn’t open up a magazine without corn-based ethanol being the magical cure for everything. Some those like myself were screaming and saying, you know, you can’t burn food in a world full of hungry people. The corn is food not fuel if you start having the supermarket and the gas station fight for the same ear of corn. You’re going to push the price of corn up for everybody and you’re just [send alarms]. Well, guess what, now everybody knows corn-based ethanol not a smart way to go. So, people will figure out all these other shams and scams, you know, oil shale, tar sands, drilling up our coastline, burning kittens, you know, whatever, you know, these people come up with is the next, you know, great way to make energy. And, eventually, people will say, you know what, it’s wind, it’s solar, it’s geothermal, there might be some smart bio-fuels in there, but that’s the stable, secure, homegrown energy platform that we can grow an economy on, that we don’t have to fight, war is over, that we can rely upon. That will be, that is the right position, it will become the common sense position. The bad part about not living in dictatorship is that democracy takes a lot of, you know, time and arguments, but, eventually, we tend to come for the right position and I expect that we will on this question.