By Ian Croft
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
With the transition away from more traditional forms of energy generation, such as the burning of fossil fuels, nearly all of the individuals who are working in those industries will be losing their jobs. This fact has been one of the things that have been giving pushback to green energy from being implemented. Peter Casurella, executive director of SouthGrow, directly spoke on this issue.
“Now, one of the pushbacks I often get is renewable energy takes jobs away,” said Casurella. “In a sense, this is true, but when you’re sitting at a desk like mine, you’ve got to think differently. When internal combustion engines and companies started building tractors and selling them to farmers, that was a huge change in the industrial production of agriculture and the building blocks of society. You need energy to fuel all of society. The energy coming from food is one form of energy. Before the tractor, there were a lot more people working in primary agriculture. After the tractor came along, a lot of those people lost their jobs, and they had to go and work in a different area of the economy.”
With this loss of jobs, Casurella tried to take a positive look at it.
“Something had fundamentally changed and you could produce the fundamental energy needed by society in the form of food cheaper and more efficiently. Society needed fewer people working full-time at that job, and those people were able to go and take their skills, time, energy, and efforts and put it to work in another area of society that didn’t have the luxury of doing it before. There were more people who got freed up and were able to pursue academic interests, or engineering, math, science, or aerospace, pick anything. You no longer needed many people doing that work to provide enough food for society to live they had other options available. The same thing is happening in energy right now.”
Throughout history, we’ve seen that the standard of living has increased across the board when fewer people need to work in labour jobs. Casurella points this out as he speaks on the efficiency of these new technologies.
“Pulling oil and gas out of the ground, it’s been the staple of the energy industry for a very long time, but now we’re in a situation which we have new technologies becoming available which could provide that energy without the same level of labour,” said Casurella. “That will continue into the future. It’s more efficient energy production from new technology — it’s the tractor of our time — and yes, there are individual tragedies that go along with people losing their current jobs and that sucks for them, but for society, it’s actually a levelling up. There’s a lot more talent, there’s a lot more labour, and a lot more human resources suddenly available to the rest of the economy. The good news for those people is that we’re living in a time in which we don’t have enough labour for all of our other needs, and there are jobs available and those folks will be able to find gainful employment in another field as we undergo this transition.”