An economic case for being “green”

If I were a venture capitalist today, I wouldn’t be looking at Internet startups. While the Internet is a sexy market and commands a lot of mindshare, I don’t think that it’s the future. We’re coming to the end of the Information Age. No, the problems uncovered by the Information Age aren’t solved. Search isn’t solved. Scientific computing as a whole is still quite nascent.

But we are gradually working our way out of this Age and into the next: the Renewables Age. Just like we’re still using what was developed during the Industrial Revolution, so too will we continue to use and develop the goods and services developed during this Information Age. So while computing and information management isn’t going anywhere, it will be superseded by bigger economic concerns. Namely, renewable energy.

I firmly believe that a few well-placed, relatively modest investments today can very probably yield absurd returns on investment sometime down the road. It would, however, be a very long-run type of play, and many VCs aren’t prepared to make an investment that won’t pay off within ten years.

With that in mind, I wrote the following as part of a larger essay for an economic history class about a week ago. What is interesting is that when I started the paper, I had no idea where I would end up. Like most Americans, I hadn’t thought about the “greening” of the economy at all. I didn’t have a conclusion in mind when I began. The final result was this, and I think I make a pretty good case for renewables and investment therein. At the very least, I have convinced myself, and I don’t really know how you can argue against it unless you’re talking timespans of less than ten years.

I’ve broken it up into a couple of shorter pieces because it’s simply too long to post as-is. No one would read it. Because it’s unedited, the beginning of each piece might feel a little jarring beginning on day 2.

  1. Part 1: The Little Things
  2. Part 2: Wind and waste heat
  3. Part 3: Petroleum, plastic, and data centers
  4. Part 4: How it will shake out and conclusion

PDF of the whole thing (2,158 words).

Let me know what you think…

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