Lots of people have been promoting a "Clean Tech Boom," likening it to the "Tech Boom" of the '90s. In his latest book, Thomas Friedman calls for investment in ET, Environmental Technology (a play on IT, Information Technology).
On the surface, it makes sense: Solve global warming while stimulating economic growth. Clean Tech is obviously an underdeveloped industry thanks to historically cheap fuel. While traditional, labor-intensive industry continues its migration off-shore, ET can thrive given western strengths of research and innovation.
But there is a HUGE difference between the IT boom and the proposed ET boom which is somehow being overlooked (despite being front page news): access to capital.
The IT boom was financed in the private sector by historic levels of liquidity. Will companies be able to invest in the R&D needed for a Clean Tech boom if banks aren't lending? Can governments drive a Clean Tech boom though other policy mechanisms?