Compel Investors to Go GreenWe have an energy crisis, a climate crisis, and a terrorism crisis - and all of them are tied to oil. Business needs to do something and do it now. We have to find solutions and alternatives to fossil fuels, and only those that are economically driven will achieve sufficient scale.
That means there has to be an economic incentive to attract investment, and the way to do that is simple: Make it interesting to Wall Street. New businesses happen when Wall Street gets excited about a new technology or market. The oil industry spends hundreds of billions on R&D every year. To find a replacement, the solution is pretty simple: Investors have to put up the same level of capital.
If investors can generate returns by putting money in companies focused on alternative energies, that will mean funding for newer and newer technologies. Leaning on Wall Street requires less government money and results in more new technology. That's not to say government doesn't have a role to play. Both the president and Congress need to send a strong message to investors that they're committed to solving these crises. That might mean mandating that a certain percentage of automobiles be flex-fuel cars - capable of running on gasoline or biofuels - by a certain year, or that 10 percent of gas pumps dispense biofuels. They need to design subsidies that can respond to changing energy markets.
Investors need to set a path that leads to revolutionary vision but has short-term steps to renovate, innovate, and make money for scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.