The End of Green?
With the economy in turmoil, many people have asked me what effect the turmoil will have on all the green initiatives I call for in Hot, Flat, and Crowded. This morning I was talking to my friend David Rothkopf, the energy expert at the Carnegie Endowment, and he put it this way: “Is this financial crisis going to be the end of green, or is green going to be how we end this financial crisis?” Really, that is the question of the hour.
The economic crisis could be the end of green, because without investment capital for research and development, and without confidence in the long-term health of the markets, it will be impossible for us to build a Clean Energy System or create the innovations that will enable us to bring alternative energy solutions to market and get them to scale. I shudder to think of that outcome.
But green may be how we end this financial crisis, because with the economy hitting bottom, everyone is going to be looking to be more cost-efficient in the way they live and do business, and that will mean demand for the most cost-saving energy efficient buildings, cars and heating and air conditioning systems is going to surely increase.
What we are seeing in this crisis is the need for a whole new financial architecture—and people are recognizing that some problems are just too big to solve unless we approach them systematically. As it is with our economy, so it is with our ecosystem: we need a new system, and we are going to have to think things through very carefully and make some hard choices to get it right.
Naturally, I am hoping that the economic crisis turns out to be the beginning of green—an opportunity to set the country and the planet right before it is too late. What do you think?