What is the positive image of "green" that will inspire a nation — indeed, the world — to transform itself in the way that Obama and others are hoping: that create jobs, build economic opportunities, engender energy independence, attack climate change, improve public health, reduce environmental degradation, and ensure national security?
Ask yourself: What does a world look like where former autoworkers and steelmakers are employed in well-paid jobs to manufacture turbines and solar panels, and where mechanics, electricians, truck drivers, and plumbers are working fervently to build the smarter, upgraded electricity grid needed to distribute all this home-grown energy? Where a new generation of smart buildings and electric vehicles are operating in concert on cheaper, less-polluting energy, and a new generation of technicians is needed to build and maintain them and infrastructure necessary to power them? Where every home, office, factory, and store is retrofitted or rebuilt to be as energy efficient as possible, made so by armies of newly trained workers from local communities? Where entrepreneurial companies are mining landfills in order to turn waste back into raw materials at a fraction of the cost and environmental impacts of mining or manufacturing new ones? Where food is grown and distributed regionally, reducing transportation emissions and ensuring food security, creating a wealth of jobs for local farmers, food processors, distributors, and others?
Can Obama incite and excite the populace by painting an enticing picture of a greener world? Of course: Yes, he can. But will he? Amid the many pressures he'll have — to cure an ailing economy, world strife, and, God knows, the common cold — will he be willing and able to place his political currency in the green vision thing?