We live in an era of change, you and I. Some unprecedented. Never before has the world shared a communications technooogy as flexible and open-ended as the Internet. In the days of newsprint or even broadcast, the concept of unlimited space or storage was inconceivable. I could now store decades of radio braodcasts on my own little gmail account should I be so inclined. Anybody could post half of Hollywood's total movie output for eighty years onto youtube if it was worth the effort to upload it. Come of think of it, much of it's probably there in pieces already.
China has once again become the dominant economy in the world as it was up until the Industrial Revolution. An earlier era of major change. Europe is now largely one major political coalition, no fighting over colonies in tropical climes. The oceans are the scene of major economic competition but there hasn't been a major sea battle fought since World War Two (sorry, the Falklands just doesn't make it). Napoleon and Nelson would be befuddled.
There are economic changes with a single Euro for over a dozen countries, the Russian economy is wealthier than it's ever been, oil has made Norway one of the richest nations on earth instead of Europe's poor peripheral. We seethe financial world whirling about trying to deal with those debt instruments they invented and pawned off on the unsuspecting investment world. Most urban people could do without phones, even cell phones, but not email or their computer. Some jmight even point to climate change. Big changes, all around.
But there is a major shift both economic and technological that is most likely to keep Green Tech front and center for decades. It is a shift in one of the world's oldest businesses. No, not one relating to Elliott Spitzer, this is a serious, family-oriented blog. AGRICULTURE
Don't yawn, you urban cowboy. Stop snickering just because you harvest your food at the mall. Farming and food is ever body's business. Globalization, newly minted middle class consumers in China, India and Russia. The demise of the old-style communist countries that blocked imports and exports. We once fought a war because Vietnam was a communist threat to the planet, it was said. Now Vietnam is a major international trader in coal and coffee and other addictive substances. What this globalized trade in food has done?
Higher food prices all around. Forget the 39-cent loaf of bread. The byurger for a buck. Today ag uses more energy. Exposes once local or regional farm markets to competition and made agriculture ever more dependent on energy, water and commodity trading.
Green Tech is going to be a major factor in all three areas. I recently blogged about a company that uses satellites and computer modelling to predict crop output and fiber yield on any plot of land you may choose. A state un Brazil? A prairie in Australia? Got your numbers right here. That's how tech will play nto the commodity market for now. Water is already a serious problem in major countries. The answer is not going to be simply build more dams. Green Tech will develop viable, affordable ways to save or re-use or desalinate, likely all three and maybe other water apps we haven't even begun to use yet.
Energy. There's been plenty said about energy prices and need for sources besides fossil fuel. Here again Green Tech wil become crucial. From wind to methane to solar, major ag producers and processors could produce their own energy as the alternative systems become bigger and better. Go read JUNK FOOD NATION for appreciation of just how much energy goes into getting those fries fried.
Water. Even explorers in the deep canyons of Manhattan must have ankling that ag uses enormous amounts of water. To grow crops during the dry season in India, to grow rice in the California desert. To produce sugar cane or corn for ethanol or even human consumption. For livestock. Here agin GreenTech holds promise of production and profit.