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11 November 2007

Ecological advancement and retro-fitting will be the new boom economy. Let's make sure we do everything possible to fund not only research, but implementation. What will it cost to produce an environmentally-oriented overhaul of the US economy, by way of the private sector, with government incentives, and to the ever-growing benefit of private sector interests?

These are key questions being asked by scientists, activists, economists and politicians, not to mention energy industry executives and those whose core business involves fossil fuels. One British economist has proposed that wealthy countries should voluntarily embark upon a planned economic recession, under the assumption that costs will be staggering and profit-growth will slow, as the transition is made from a wasteful carbon-based economy to a more elastic renewable-recyclable one.

It would seem a daunting task: after all, not only is every major mode of civilian and commercial transport run on petroleum-based fuels, but most military transport and artillery are as well (barring nuclear submarines). So there would need to be a very well-crafted, very cautious and steady overhaul of the tax system and research subsidies, to ensure that the transition is inspired not only by humanitarian or ecological interests, but also by sound long-term financial planning.

What we need now is to make the calculations, for politicians in Washington, DC, to talk to MIT, to the Worldwatch Institute, the Earth Policy Institute, to current and former EPA experts, top scientists at the IPCC, and engineers and researchers working toward the needed advances in renewable energy technologies.

We, as a society, as an argumentative and curious press-driven public, as academics and policy-makers, need to look at how to make those calculations more affordable in the short-term through better planning and decentralization. A comprehensive plan to achieve certain targets by 2012, incentivizing private business to do well by taking part can afford the intelligence and dynamism of a decentralized but collective enterprise, where local efficiencies built into the marketplace compensate for the time we cannot afford to waste, and help us to optimize the outcome of a courageous national endeavor.

Small businesses may be the driving force behind the coming ecological revolution. They may find it more economical to invest in ecologically efficient zero-emissions technologies, if there is no added cost in the moment. We can help with that.

If small businesses begin producing solar or wind energy, harvesting energy from the environment in a clean, sustainable way, their surplus production can be a new way of bringing clean energy to homeowners, schools and hospitals. This is already being done, it works, and it's the kind of strategy that can go into a comprehensive economic outlook for pushing the Green Technology Boom.

It will be a great sign of imagination, wisdom and policy skill, if we can proudly and confidently announce we have a way to fund the coming (necessary) economic boom in green technologies. How long did we hear balanced budgets and economic growth were incompatible, before seeing a multi-trillion-dollar 10-year projected budget surplus in 2000?

In the atmosphere of a presidential campaign, economics and the maj0r obstacles to continuing spectacular economic performance, as a nation and as a system for creating prosperity within democracy, are at all times central, and now, with recession looming and the dollar in free-fall, global climate change on the radar of public awareness, and serious energy-related international conflicts, it is perhaps more than ever the moment for a comprehensive, agile and responsible effort at shaping this transition. [s]

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