In an exchange on contact center employment, Group Publisher Rich Tehrani expressed skepticism about the numbers of new American jobs, estimated by some sources at 5+ million that going green will produce.
No one has explained to him why the U.S. will make better green products than the Chinese or Japanese if the U.S. can't make better cars, etc.
Rich has a point, and it is illustrated in the mass transit industry. Every commuter, light rail, or subway car and a large percentage of transit buses that have been ordered or put in service in the past 15 years or so has been designed, engineered, and substantially built outside of the U.S., leaving the assembly and testing in the U.S. to comply with federal Buy America laws.
Look at the nameplates of the buses and train. Chances are good that they will read Alstom, Bombardier, Breda, Dennis, Kawasaki, KinkiSharyo, New Flyer, Nova, Orion, Rotem, Siemens, and Stadler, to name a few. KinkiSharyo and Siemens have cornered the light rail market while the lozenge-shaped commuter rail cars that are found on nearly every system west of Chicago come from Bombardier.
The last true American railcar builder, Budd, went belly up in the field; Boeing's venture into building light rail cars: for Boston and San Francisco was a disaster. GM got out of the bus business that it had long dominated. It nearly accomplished its mission of wiping out mass transit but foiled at the last minute by the energy crisis, and the need to clean up the environment and revitalize communities with public transportation.
The lesson is this: yes, the green revolution will create jobs, but the products have to be well-designed-and engineered, competitively priced, and supported, especially if the buying and financing comes from the public sector.
In short American manufacturers especially have to get back to quality and value-for-money that once made their goods the best in the world if they want to compete for their share of new green market.