There is definite mood shift about the Green Revolution advocated by Friedman in Hot, Flat and Crowded (see my review). Just a year or so ago the predominant attitude in mainstream business to the whole ‘sustainable, green, environment, manage your waste’ thing was a begrudging acceptance and fear that it would inevitably spoil the party. We now detect the green shoots (pun intended) of investor excitement. Revolutions are an opportunity to make money, that is how we now see the agrarian revolution, the industrial revolution, the information revolution, and it is how more and more people are seeing the Green Revolution. “Hang on a moment, if we get first mover advantage on renewable energies, efficient waste disposal technology, new recyclable materials we can make a killing”. The smart money (which in these equity markets has nowhere else to go) is shifting towards anything green. Suddenly people with crazy little green ideas don’t seem so crazy and private investors are stepping forward to back them (I know of at least two such private investment groups, serious players, who are chasing such opportunities the way they would have chased internet start-ups).
Friedman’s argument is that the USA is uniquely placed and particularly motivated to lead the Green Revolution and thereby retain its place as world economic leaders. Perhaps, but the evidence of past revolutions is that they result in new world orders and new players. It was, after all, the industrial revolution that propelled the USA to where it is now and built the fortunes of new upstarts like J.D. Rockefeller (oil) and Andrew Carnegie (steel).
Who will be the new winners in the Green Revolution – answers on a postcard (or better still a comment to me which I will post).