Thanks to the recent U.S. election, which put proponents of resources firmly in charge of Congress, what I began calling "The War Against Oil" here four years ago has moved decisively from the public sector to the private.
My own study of history tells me this is where it should have been all along. Political change follows economic change. It's based on economic demands.
What works in the marketplace demands an end to government subsidies of what no longer works, and it's this market power that drives the change, although historians seldom write things up that way because it sounds communist.
It's not. It's pure Adam Smith (right). Smith himself was a product of the Scottish Enlightenment, the intellectual movement that gave us the Industrial Revolution, the frameworks of democracy, and such religious movements as unitarianism. He based his work on the idea that most people are decent, even big businesspeople, and that problems are addressed best when they are turned into opportunities.
So there's a reason we haven't seen Al Gore lately. He's been looking at deals with John Doerr, preparing a Cox-like revenge, untold wealth for his children and grandchildren.
In business, you only seek publicity when you need it. When you want to attract capital, or sell something, then you seek publicity. Otherwise you stay silent.
Thus the question occurs, what does the Carbon War Room want?
It has put together what it calls a Green Capital Global Challenge, which seeks to do whole-city retrofits for energy efficiency.
Its Web site collects stories into feeds on relevant topics, and highlights actionable reports.
Mainly it wants to focus attention on the opportunities and give its leaders a chance to see the best ones first.
There is a lot to see.
Here are just a few stories from the last week I glanced at coming into work:
- China is moving to integrate solar energy into the design of new buildings.
- NASA has launched its first solar sail, which could lead to tests of orbiting solar power plants.
- The Department of Defense is testing solar concentrators at two military bases.
- HeliaTek of Germany has followed Konarka in delivering thin films with an efficiency of 8.3%.
- Princeton scientists have demonstrated a technique for replacing expensive indium in solar cells with plastic.
- And even failed companies are seeing their work picked up by others.
Instead of talking the language of war, the market is talking the language of profit. To the place being transformed a gold rush can look a lot like a war, and it's a gold rush we're now seeing in The War Against Oil.