Is your Resolution to Kickstart the Next Clean Revolution?

18 12 2008

A post by contributing writer Melissa Chungfat.

A dispatch.

I talked to one of my friend’s yesterday and she told me that the staff Christmas party wasn’t nearly as joyful as in previous years. Half of the people who came to the party were let go. There have been record layoffs since the economy has gone south, and it’s hard to talk to someone whose family hasn’t been impacted in some way.

Social and environmental advocates around the world worry that the economic challenges will be used as an excuse for more inaction on the environment. Before the environmental issues went viral, ecopreneurs took the lead to help and protect the environment. Where there was a lack in political will, ecopreneurs filled the gap.
But so far, it looks like the Obama-Bidon administration sees the environment as an opportunity to jumpstart the new 21st century economy.

In this week’s press conference, Obama said investing in entrepreneurs is a necessary “down payment.”

“There is not a contradiction between economic growth and sound environmental practices. A new energy economy is going to be part of what creates the millions of new jobs that we need,” Obama said.

Journalist Thomas Friedman has been talking about the role ecopreneurs will play in clean tech, the next global industry the past few months.

Financial analysis firm Merrill Lynch said clean technology will become the “Sixth Revolution” as our planet gets warmer and our resources dwindle.  Revolutions happen about once every 50 years and the next wave is anticipated to come.

While there is a lot of opportunity in the clean tech sector, like any business, you need capital. MC Milker wrote a great post to remind us about the realities and challenges of  starting a business, particularly a green one in these hard economic times.

No matter what product or service you are selling, ecopreneurs need capital. We will be watching to see if Obama’s administration promises stick to help green business overcome the biggest hurdles, especially in the early stages of development.

Obama’s newly-announced Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a Nobel physics laureate, said that the Energy Department will “support energy research and development that will lead to innovation in the private sector.”

Long before the hype, ecopreneurs have been offering products and services of all kinds for people to make a difference at any level they can. People can buy environmentally friendly household cleaning products from companies like Seventh Generation or print company documents from printing companies like Green Printer. Hell, if people want to go bigger, they can generate electricity for their commercial buildings with solar energy with products built by companies like Solyndra.

While ecopreneurs don’t wait for revolutions to create opportunities, they will certainly be an essential part in the next one.

It’s great to see a long discourse of collaboration actually being practiced between government, businesses, and citizens. It’s necessary to have all players working together to best tackle our environmental and social challenges.

“In the next few years, the choices that we make will help determine the kind of country and world that we will leave to our children and our grandchildren,” Obama said during his announcement of the “Green Team.”

We’ll see how and who is going to make a clean tech revolution a part of their New Year’s resolution.

Viewpoint – January 3, 2009

Could Obama’s green shift be a green shaft? NOW Magazine’s Andrew Cash reports.

Should we let green jobs be Obama’s Patriot Act? Matthew Bandyk says no.



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