Best of The Panelist

The backlash on the green trend has finally arrived, and the question now is if the current wave of environmentalism has staying power. Our favorite recent article for clarity and wisdom comes from an article in the New York Review of Books about tobacco companies, which hints that, like smokers in the 1950's, what eco-conscious people really want is meaning and identity.

How close is $80-a-barrel oil? That's the question that seems to be on the minds of oil traders and stock investors alike. Just four years ago, crude oil was going for around $20-a-barrel. Now it's up over $70 and continues to rise. Some take the view that rising crude oil prices will cut into Big Oil profits, but another way to look at this is in terms of rising gas prices driving a demand for alternative energy.

Last week, Germany's Environment Ministry recommended a shift in subsidies from solar energy installations to offshore wind farms. With Germany's impressive track record of renewable energy legislation, we have to wonder if the future will cause fickle investors to flock to wind now that solar subsidies have been cut in Germany. On the surface, this might look like a victory for wind power, but if you do a bit of digging, a different picture emerges.It used to be that biotech referred mainly to big pharma, however energy giants now want in on what many feel is the upcoming biotech revolution. The next big thing could be "bio-refineries" that produce alternative energy for mass consumption. Currently, most of the excitement is focused around cellulosic ethanol, which takes conventional ethanol to the next level. Such a process would involve using living components, enzymes and microbes that have been bio-engineered, to speed up key processes in the manufacture of biofuels.

In its recent report, "Going Green," Forbes attempts to examine the efforts of many different companies to be both green and profitable. It asks the eternal question, "What's a fad and what's real?" While it is by no means a complete answer to this question, the Forbes report does a good job of covering companies both new to this sector and veteran, as well as a wide variety of industries. The Financial Times also published a special report, "Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy," in order to discuss its new ranking tables of NGOs and issues related to the connections between the private and social sectors.

Tags: Biofuels | Renewable Energy

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