Where are the Green Jobs?

Everett Griffiths
3 min readMay 2, 2022

As wildfires burn across Siberia and temperatures in Antartica soar 70 degrees above normal, people are paying more attention to the environment. It is high time to ask an obvious question: “Where are the green jobs?” A concerned developer wants to know.

Life is fragile. Image credit: Author

There are lots of jobs out there for software developers: recruiters have recently messaged me regarding openings in Fintech, for-profit healthcare, and sports betting to name a few. But do any of these positions help heal the planet? Or are they quietly complicit in its ongoing destruction? There are no jobs on a dead planet, so I ask again, where are the green jobs?

Developer interviews are famously difficult for their questions where candidates must demonstrate proficiency in technical esoterica to land the job. So here’s a softball that any competent person should be able to knock out of the park. Ready?

Question: How can we maintain sustainable growth on a finite planet?

Growth cannot be infinite in a finite world: our planet, like any petri dish, has limits. Image credit: https://philschatz.com/

Answer: We can’t. A finite system has limited resources.

Most of humanity seems to have failed this simple interview question. Take a moment for this to sink in. Entire economic theories are invalidated by this straightforward observation. As developers, we know that when an algorithm is flawed, any calculations based on it are also flawed. Measurements of GDP, CPI, and other hangers-on are therefore faulty if not downright useless. The Emperor has no clothes.

Capitalism is going through a Y2K moment when its myopic fantasies about infinite growth are crashing into the sobering reality of a biosphere in critical condition. Environmentalists have been sounding the alarm about capitalism’s destructive nature for a long time; the system may need a total rewrite. Capitalism’s defense has always been to stigmatize critics from behind a shield of meritocracy, but one needn’t be a radical hippie to see that it incentivizes exploitation, artificial scarcity, colonialism, and other instances of downright theft. Capitalism is all about rewarding hard work in the same way that the Easter Bunny is all about Jesus: it isn’t.