Has the U.S. already lost green tech to other nations?

Has the U.S. already lost green tech to other nations?

Summary: Is it too late for the green tech boom in the U.S.?

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TOPICS: Emerging Tech
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Is it too late for the green tech boom in the U.S.? Is the nation now second-rate technologically? Did the eight years of aerobics during the Bush Administration leave the U.S. one lap behind nations actually in the running? There are certainly lots of folks counting on a job and economic boom associated with alernative energy and green tech. A Pew Foundation study found green tech jobs were already incresasing faster than other segments of the economy, and that was in the decade before the current economic meltdown. Pew says there were nearly ten percent more green tech jobs in 1997 than ten years earlier. Nobody expects traditional auto firms to suddenly start hiring thousands in, say, 2012. Anbd how many more Wal-marts do we need? So will the green jobs materialize? Will there be enough to dent the many millions now unemployed or under-employed in America? AMERICA LAGGING? One mainstream pundit says the U.S. is already lagging, with only one-sixth of the leading greentech production facilities. That ranks the U.S. fourth behind Japan, China and the European Union. Heavy price to pay for eight years of partying with the fossil fuel folks, huh? Here's this commentator's personal recipe for how we catch up. Our government fought for this global economy, thinking, I guess, that American companies and innate superiority would make us global champs in everything. Hah. We now dominate no sector of green tech. Like soccer--whichgt he rest of the world knows as football--we are now learning to play a game not natural to us. We are really champs at using resources faster than anyone else. But renewable? Sustainable? Puh-leeze, hand me that hamburger in the styrofoam box. And our competitors are all around us, friend and foe. Like South Korea, putting 2% of its GDP into greentech. Course, they didnb;t have to run it past the U.S. Senate. But, no worries. South Korea only knows how to make TVs, DVDs and cars, right? Duh, does American industry know how to make any of those? Besides our beloved politicians, there are other enemies lurking. Not just lobbyists but also bankers! Run for the hills. Investment bankers have their mitts on the green boom-to-be now. [poll id="152"]

Topic: Emerging Tech

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  • No.

    Govt. sponsored research is only a big edge for products where the government is the customer (nuclear bombs, stealth jets, tanks, etc.)

    When the market decides that green products and tech is desirable, then a market with less government baggage will produce better, cheaper, and more innovative products, because they'll be tuned towards what consumers actually value.

    Until consumers properly value environmentally sound practices, little will change.

    Remember the late 80's and the Japanese government's "5th Generation" computing drive? If you don't, that massive government effort was going to put Japan in the lead of computing technology for the 21st century. Calls poured out for the U.S. government to match or exceed it, or lose leadership forever.

    We know how that turned out, didn't we?

    Even if lack of govt. support did put the U.S. behind - who says the order has been set permanently? If the U.S. is 4th, why is the U.S. doomed to remain there? Does that mean #1 is going to be #1 forever? The order can never change?

    If the govt. had directed green research, the U.S. probably would have made big bets on losing ideas. Take a look at California.
    hickum
    • There is certainly some validity to what you are saying but...

      there are other factors to consider.

      Look at the US auto industry, barely a former shadow if itself. It will probably never recover to its former glory and may die altogether. The causes are many, but a big factor was certainly the failure to keep up with the world demand for high quality, fuel efficient cars. Most production was sold domestically because the cars were not really competitive elsewhere. The rest of the story we know.

      The first companies to move into a new product/market often gain both a scale of production and know-how advantages that may be very difficult to compete with. If the US gets into renewable (green) energy in a big way, US firms may not have the expertise nor the cost structure to compete without some form of government support. This is already happening. Foreign entities may manufacture much of the equipment in the US, but it will be no different from the foreign car makers which do the same now.
      Economister
    • I don't agree.

      I won't claim that all government sponsored research is good, but just
      because it's government sponsored doesn't make it bad. Government
      has big role to play in R&D. All of the technology spun off from NASA
      is government bought. Microcomputers, light-weight alloys,
      communication systems, etc were all given huge amounts of
      government dollars through NASA. First communications satellite had
      a whack of Canadian government research dollars. The Centres for
      Disease Control, the American and other nations' around the world do
      immense work in researching diseases, and how to control them. All
      government dollars.

      Government dollars fund the military industrial complex. The
      government puts out specifications - which are directives to what kind
      of research needs to be done to reach a goal - and then pays private
      industry to provide the product.

      What works best is a partnership where the government identifies a
      need, and provides the dollars to get the research started. Leave it to
      the private side to work out the best way to get to the goal. Once the
      basic technologies are invented, then the private sector can
      commercialize the technology.

      The difficulty is figuring out a way for government to get its
      investments back. Either in a equity stake in the company selling the
      technology, or just getting a bunch of new jobs that will increase the
      GDP (and government taxes eventually).
      snberk341
      • Quite the contrary...

        The advances you cite reinforce my position. They all stem from govt. research into a "product" for which the govt. was the only possible customer (manned spaceflight.) Military research is responsible for almost all advances in aeronautics and nuclear energy.

        Govt. (in a democracy) is always going to be slower, clumsier, and less efficient than private enterprise. And I wouldn't want any alternative. Because to make govt. as efficient as private enterprise, you either have to have a national emergency to rally people into similar thinking (hence the attempts by the green movement to plump up global warming as the greatest calamity to ever face humanity) or it has to be a dictatorship. And I'd rather have clumsy, slow government than a dictatorship.

        Govt.'s flaws are the flaws of humanity. Private enterprise gets it wrong too, but if you have enough agents operating in the economy, no one bad decision ruins everything. There's only one govt., so when it makes a bad decision, there's no escaping the consequences. Hence, it's far preferable to restrict govt. to making decisions that only it can make, and leave the rest to private enterprise.

        The problem with govt. seeding is that you get enormous waste. It's a perfect target for pork. Take for example the whole ethanol industry. Ridiculous, inefficent, and a ecological disaster (perhaps even a moral one as well.) But that's how you can steer "energy independence" dollars to the Midwest.
        hickum
  • RE: Has the U.S. already lost green tech to other nations?

    The US became second-rate technologically when companies started to care about only getting the lowest bidders for any tech work and started laying off qualified Americans in favor of shipping jobs to India and bring in H1-B visa holders, saying they're the "best and brightest" when the only thing they have going for them is that they work for peanuts! Green has nothing to do with it.
    wayne62682
    • You make a good point, but, that's only half the story...

      <i>The US became second-rate technologically when companies started to care about only getting the lowest bidders for any tech work and started laying off qualified Americans in favor of shipping jobs to India and bring in H1-B visa holders</i>

      You make some good points. However, I disagree with your assessment that the U.S. has become second-rate technologically. Sure, our manufacturing base has dwindled tremendously in the last 40 years or so. But, the U.S. is still a center, if not the main center, for research, all major forms of research. What other countries have as an advantage is that they can take our research and turn it into good products and more cheaply.

      But, what's is also lacking in your assessment is "why has the U.S. been shipping manufacturing jobs and service jobs overseas?". Why are we hiring H1B visa agents instead of hiring our own? Why is it that, as an example, GM would prefer to ship manufacturing jobs to Mexico or Canada or China or Asia instead of doing all the manufacturing right here in the U.S.? Why does DELL or MS or IBM or any other company, whether in the technology field or in the service sector, or in the retail sector, ship their manufacturing and other jobs overseas?

      I'lll give you a slight hint: cost of doing business. Take it from there and then come back with a more complete assessment. In fact, even if the U.S. were to start creating a lot of "green jobs" (and that phrase is so idiotic), those jobs themselves would get shipped overseas or we'll get cheaper labor brought in to do those jobs.

      Cause and effect. Or, to every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. That is terminology which is applicable mostly to physics, but it's just as applicable to why things have happened in the American economy. I wonder if you can trace the history of why and when things started to go downhill in the American economy. Another hint: it wasn't in the Bush years (neither Bush), it wasn't in the Clinton years, and it wasn't in the Reagan years.

      So, go ahead, do some homework.
      adornoe
  • Green tech boom is a mirage

    Trust me private sectors would have long figured it out how to profit off it if there really is sth called GTB.

    What we will get is probably a government propped up phony green business that is nothing but another robbery on tax payers.
    LBiege
  • RE: Has the U.S. already lost green tech to other nations?

    No one cares about so-called 'green-tech' especially in a recession. Companies are 'going green' because they think it's a good marketing tool. The reality is, 'going green' simply means I'm paying more for whatever product it is. In a down economy, I watch every cent, and if you're jacking up your prices to cater to what is a luxury (environmentalism) belief, then I'll take my business elsewhere. The people who care most about this are those in the media, but they tend to act as an echo chamber, reflecting things they say to one another, so they amplify 'green tech' even more than the average consumer really cares to care about it.
    modean2525@...
  • RE: Has the U.S. already lost green tech to other nations?

    Harry,

    Did you ask your modern day prophet Al Gore to tell you what you think?

    Seriously, when it makes money, we'll move to green tech. Of course, it still won't be manufactured here because of the global warming people (like you) won't allow that to happen here...
    jtiner
  • US companies will simply hire more Indian scientists to catch up.

    Whether they are left in India or imported to the US on H1-B visas, US companies will catch up.
    Letophoro
  • Is this really a loss?

    Show me where the emphasis on green tech is actually making a positive impact on a country's economy. All green tech currently relies on MASSIVE government subsidies (read TAX PAYER DOLLARS) to be 'competitive' with the 'evil' fossil fuels. Spain is one of the leading countries on green tech and renewable energies, and they now enjoy about an 18% unemployment rate. They've actually lost net jobs because for every green job they created they killed off one or more regular jobs in the process. If green jobs were this awesome panacea and such a profitable venture, you couldn't keep companies from investing heavily in them. Yet the only way companies are currently motivated to create green jobs are through government subsidies and/or heavy guilt over not wanting to 'kill the planet'. If/When wind farms and solar plants and all these other green jobs are more profitable than the current options they'll flourish all on their own. And they'll flourish here so long as our government stays out of the market place. Until then, let's stop pretending the current batch of 'green tech' is so fantastic and we're all just missing out.
    branchman67
  • RE: Has the U.S. already lost green tech to other nations?

    Quote: Show me where the emphasis on green tech is actually making a positive impact on a country's economy. :Quote

    OMG - is this guy person for real???? It's not about money - it's about survival. Still if only one person survives, he'll have all the money. He'll have won surely?

    I really just cannot believe some people.
    Snak
    • Survival? Are YOU for real!?

      <i>It's not about money - it's about survival.</i>

      Humanity and all other forms of life have survived other period of warmer temperatures than they are today. And they've survived other period where the temperatures have been very low.

      The predictions made by the climate change scaremongers some 20 years ago for the time around 2000 didn't even come close to being realized. Before that, they were predicting an ice-age soon would overcome the whole world. And now, the same crows is making dire predictions for 10, 20, 50, 100 years from now. Each time they've made a prediction, nature has not complied. Anybody that buys into the global warming scare and their stupid predictions are stuck on stupid.
      adornoe
      • I'm sorry, but....

        We'll survive because we've survived in the past is hardly a 'plan for the future'. At at least one point in Human history we have come perilously close to exinction - as evidenced by the fact that everyone on Earth today is descended from just 5 women....

        95% of every species that has lived on Earth is extinct. When massive climate change occurs it's not the higher order life that suffers first - it's the lower orders, like food. Higher orders (like us) die out after we kill each other over the last egg (or neighbour's thigh bone).

        I have a question. If your children are walking along the edge of a cliff and they say they're fine and wont fall off - don't you still haul them away - after all there is a chance they could potentially slip. Well if there's a chance we might choke to death on CO2 or boil in a Venusian atmosphere, then, just in case, don't you think we should haul ourselves away from the potential fall?

        If we do commit resources to minimising our effect on the atmosphere and find, in the end, it wasn't necessary, then we will still have done the right thing. Better that than assume the emperor is wearing clothes only to find out too late you were wrong.
        Snak
        • It's more a matter of how we go about it....

          <i>I'm sorry, but....
          We'll survive because we've survived in the past is hardly a 'plan for the future'.</i>

          The question is not about coming out with a plan. We can't plan for catastrophes. We can plan to survive a catastrophe but we can't plan to prevent one.

          What the global warming scaremongers are doing is scaring people such as you into believing that we humans are the cause of a coming global catastrophe. But, their science is very faulty and pretty much junk. So, why plan for a major disaster which is pretty much in the imagination of the Al Gores of the world and not in the minds of real scientists?

          What the global warming crowd is proposing is to make the planet cooler by having humans change their personal habits or forcing them to change.

          In the overall scheme of things, humans are not very different from all other species when it comes to being at the mercy of nature and natural disasters. Remember Katrina? How about the Indonesia Tsunami? We couldn't prevent them if we tried. We also cannot prevent a disaster if it were to be from an extra-terrestrial source such as from a dying star which produces a supernova relatively close to us. We also cannot prevent volcano eruptions whether from regular or super-volcanoes. Many researchers believe that the "almost extinction" of the human race that you mentioned was due to a super-volcano eruption. Even today with our major technological advancements, we are at the mercy of any disaster that the planet and the universe wants to throw at us.

          Now, the global warming scaremongers and junk scientists would have us believe that it is humans that are causing the globe to warm and that therefore, we can do something about it. But, those people are conveniently disregarding the facts and are coming to conclusions with very faulty observations and very faulty data collection.

          Then there is the fact of the history of climate change. As an example, how do you think Greenland got its name? When you look at Greenland now, it's mostly white covered with snow and mostly cold all the time. Yet, it was named Greenland back in the middle ages by Vikings who ventured into it and observed a land very green with plant life. That is as a result of global warming which, if I'm not mistaken, didn't have SUVs or automobiles or airplanes, of factories, or anything else using petro-based fuels.

          The wacko environmental crowd has invented a crisis from stupid science. And, stupid science begets stupid solutions.

          <i> At at least one point in Human history we have come perilously close to exinction - as evidenced by the fact that everyone on Earth today is descended from just 5 women....
          </i>

          And, what was the cause of that "almost extiinction"? It surely wasn't global warming. And, even today, we're still incapable of preventing whatever the catastrophe which caused us to become almost extinct. We can try to survive, but we can't prevent it.

          <i> 95% of every species that has lived on Earth is extinct.</i>?

          Those are the ways of nature. A form of life becomes extinct and a few others come into being. If all forms of life that ever existed were to be still living, then this planet would be very chaotic. Nature (some would say God), knows how to return life to the planet and it knows how to balance it. Up to now, nobody, not even the scientists, can emulate what nature has accomplished.
          adornoe
  • RE: Has the U.S. already lost green tech to other nations?

    During a recent road trip to Washington state I saw dozens of trucks pass by heading east on I-84. These trucks were hauling wind towers and I began to wonder where they were originating from. Finally on one of the tower sections I saw a sign proclaiming CS Wind Corporation as the manufacture of the wind towers. When I got a chance to look up the info on the company I discovered that the company and factory were located in Vietnam. This would seem to validate the message of the article. Consider this; some outfit in the United States determined that purchasing wind towers from this Vietnamese company even with the increased cost of shipping the components across the Pacific from Vietnam was better for their bottom line. In my opinion the United States has stumbled in developing green technology. The market for green technology continues to grow and increasingly people are realizing the many additional benefits that renewable resources provide.
    tuoteg
    • Did it ever occur to you that...

      <i>Consider this; some outfit in the United States determined that purchasing wind towers from this Vietnamese company even with the increased cost of shipping the components across the Pacific from Vietnam was better for their bottom line. In my opinion the United States has stumbled in developing green technology.</i>

      Did it ever occur to you that, perhaps the rosy spin that you put into the events you witnessed and your interpretation of those events don't really jive with the reality of the situation? You interpret it as, "despite" the high costs of shipping the labor costs and the manufacturing overseas, that the company still it would fare better in the bottom line. However, why not interpret is as, the company felt that the labor and manufacturing costs would've been much higher here in the U.S. as opposed to them getting done overseas? The bottom line that the company was looking at as the same kind of bottom line that all other companies look out for, no matter what the industry. The same research that went into the wind-mill decision is being done by many other companies in many other industries. The labor and benefits costs are sometimes very prohibitive and the material costs can also be very devastating to the bottom line of any company or industry.

      The worse part is that, one of the main reasons that Obama and the democrats are looking to create "green jobs" is to stimulate the economy and the creation of jobs <b>here</b> in America. The irony is that you think of it as a positive rather than a negative for the company to be shipping the manufacturing of the wind-mills overseas. That wasn't what Obama and the democrats had in mind. While Obama and the democrats keep talking up the idea of "green job" creation, you don't see a problem with a company shipping out those jobs elsewhere.

      adornoe
      • You might have misunderstood the point I was trying to make.

        You might have misunderstood the point I was trying to make. The company CS Wind Corporation is a Vietnamese corporation with its headquarters and factory located in Vietnam. I was pointing out that despite the increased cost of having the components shipped across the Pacific, some entity in the United States found it to be beneficial for them to purchase their wind towers from CS Wind Corporation. One can speculate about the reasoning for that entity?s decision but in the end it still is indicative of the main point of the article questioning whether the US has fallen behind in developing green technologies. I certainly did not try to put a ?rosy spin? on what I witnessed or my speculations, I only meant to provide an observation about the ability or inability of the United States to compete in its own backyard in this narrow area of green technology. There are wind turbine manufactures in the United States; one of the largest GE manufactures wind turbines out of Tehachapi California, Pensacola FL and Greenville SC. I would hope that US wind turbine manufactures could in the future become more competitive with foreign companies, doing so would be beneficial for the united states regardless of which political party was in power.
        tuoteg
        • I didn't misunderstand, but you are misunderstanding something...

          <i>The company CS Wind Corporation is a Vietnamese corporation with its headquarters and factory located in Vietnam. I was pointing out that despite the increased cost of having the components shipped across the Pacific, some entity in the United States found it to be beneficial for them to purchase their wind towers from CS Wind Corporation.</i>

          It is apparent that you don't understand the economics involved with CS Wind farming out their labor or purchases or manufacturing.

          You call it "higher costs of shipping" but, when taken as only a part of the overall transaction, the shipping costs might be minor or don't matter. It is the cost of the overall transaction that matters. Thus, if by purchasing their components overseas they are able to cut their overall costs of doing business, then it is in fact a prudent business practice to go overseas for their components.

          Sure, shipping costs are a matter that, if they were to construct the components domestically, would probably be non-existent or very minor. But, when you add in the costs of labor and high benefits costs, and high domestic taxes, and the other high costs of doing business right here in the U.S., the shipping costs for getting the components from overseas will be relatively a minor matter. You need to look at the whole equation in the transactions. If you only look at the shipping costs alone, then sure, it is a cost that would otherwise not be there. But, shipping costs are just one minor part of the overall transaction.

          It is not a matter of the company deciding to disregard the high cost of shipping. No executive would think that way. It is a matter of the company deciding that it is a lot cheaper to get their components overseas, regardless of delivery method. The delivery method alone has nothing to do with the lowered cost of the overall transaction.

          However, you didn't address the other point I was making, which is that, one of the excuses that Obama and the democrats use to try to sell their "green legislation" is the creation of "green jobs". Certainly, Obama and the democrats weren't talking about creating "green jobs" in Vietnam or anywhere else overseas. Shipping jobs or manufacturing overseas would run counter to the intent of their agenda.
          adornoe
  • Huge negative environmental side effect to going green with "biofuels"

    <a href="http://www.gasandoil.com/goc/frame_ntn_news.htm">Corn-based biofuel costs 50 gallons of water per mile</a>

    BTW, that's per mile, not per gallon.

    <b>In Nebraska, for example, it takes 800 gallons of water -- from crop irrigation through final processing into ethanol -- to create a single gallon of the corn-derived transportation fuel.</b>
    adornoe