Friday, July 03, 2009

The Clean Industrial Revolution, by Ben McNeil


This book endeavours to look on the bright side of global warming: all the new business opportunities that it will create. Going by all the good news provided in The Clean Industrial Revolution, you’d have to wonder why politicians and business people aren’t rushing headlong to get in first and take advantage of this so called ‘clean’ revolution.

If anything, this book makes a good compliment to Guy Pearse’s work. McNeil marshals a lot of economic data and modelling, from reputable sources, to clearly demonstrate that countries that take the initiative and green their economy, that is, invest heavily in renewable energy and its related industries will reap an economic windfall.

Countries that don’t will find themselves in a K-hole. He cites the example of Saudi Arabia, whose economy is totally dependent on oil. This puts their economy in an extraordinarily precarious position. Contrast this to Finland, and its Nokia company, that invested heavily in research and development and now leads the world in mobile phones.

McNeil even cites American behemoth General Electric as being ahead of the curve on this, with their impressive capture of the green market.

It is this demand for sustainable energy that will punish lazy industries and reward innovative ones. Remember what happened during the oil shocks of the 70s, when the price of oil went through the roof? It forced Americans to come up with more energy efficient technologies.

Whether you think global warming is a load of baloney or not, the reality is the world is moving to technologies that are more efficient and pollute less. If you want to take advantage of this, better get a wriggle on and face the future that is coming.

In short, this will be a huge, major stuctural change to our economy, bigger even than of that ushered in by the Hawke Keating years.

This is a calm, accessible book that makes its arguments clearly and simply. McNeil is a your regular mild mannered scientist, keeping his cool in a debate that is often emotional and heated.

As I said before, he backs up a lot of the material that Guy Pearse presents in his books. The advantage with the McNeil book is that it’s written for a wider audience.

It’s ironic, though, that advanced western technology got us into this mess, and now it has to get us out again. Let’s hope so-called clean energy is precisely that, and doesn’t contain some unforseen negative.

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