Sunday, June 22, 2008

The rise of the green economy....

The LA Times Money and Co. Blog has a posting on the need for individuals with green skills to meet the growing green tech sector. In the past few years, so much of the focus has been on "high tech" which can really be read as "internet tech" with the rise of Google, Facebook and mySpace driving much of the attention. In silicon valley there is a lot of desire to apply information technology to become green. My suspicion is that this affection for information technology as a solution more has to do with seeing everything as a nail when all you have is a hammer.

Contrast that with our current problems which are more physical than mental. It is an all too real reminder that the real world trumps the virtual one. Looking at a menu is not the same as eating the meal, a long distance relationship is not the same as a touching right now relationship. We're dealing in the realm of laws of nature, and that means physicality.

An irony of the clean tech economy is that most of the jobs that are currently being needed are industrial in nature observes post author Edward Silver:

The good news is that the greening will be energized by the basic skills many workers already possess. Hybrid thinkers aside, the effort to extend public transit -– taking big bites out of oil consumption and tailpipe spewing –- will rely on engine builders, welders and dispatchers. And you can’t stand up a wind farm without a cadre of machinists, construction workers and truck drivers. Sustainability is largely an industrial, and indeed, agricultural, enterprise and the nation’s achievements in those areas are epic.

Atoms do win over bits, especially in the area of resurrection.My mother's laptop just died, and almost all of the components in it are good except for one small component that has turned it to a large paperweight. It's not clear that it will be possible to replace or repair the laptop since all the components are specialized and were predicated on disposability. I've asked my mother to see if we can the replacement part, probably on the order of a few dollars if and only if it is available. Electronic parts have the equivalent state of being out of print.

Mechanical items can generally be recreated, or jury rigged around. It's possible to take an old machine and get it working in some capacity. Don't believe me, just check out the old cars in Cuba that are still running despite the lack of any replacement parts due to the embargo.

We have assumed that the mental economy is the future, but the ability to physically manipulate things and shape things is a skill that was assumed to be part of basic literacy. Students of all levels would take shop, and that's no longer true. It seems that the only places where physical and mental dexterity are at a par in this modern age is as a surgeon or a musician.

The green economy is going to be a trade off of different capabilities, perhaps the development of our physical one will be walking instead of taking a Segway.


At 2:57 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

cool quoting Paul Saffo, and this idea of the carpets. Nice blog


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