Wired’s eco hat-trick

Wired magazine has a green streak this issue, starting with an in-depth and quite insightful story about Al Gore as a man on a mission to save the world from global warming. There’s great background on Gore’s retreat from the public spotlight after losing to Bush, and his “ressurection” as anti-global warming crusader and successful cleantech investor through his investment firm Generation Investment Management LLP. They also mention his upcoming documentary about global warming, titled An Inconvenient Truth, which is co-produced by Davis Guggenheim and billionaire Canadian (and ex-eBay exec) Jeff Skoll through his company Participant Productions.

I’ve always been a fan of Gore, and am moreso today given his personal interest and sense of duty on the climate change front. What I like about Gore is he’s an optimist who is convinced that innovation will get us out of this mess and that the market — if poked and prodded the right way — will wake up to the opportunity. The philosophy of Gore’s firm, according to the magazine, is to “draw capital away from the fossil-fueled economy and direct it toward new and profitable centers of the sustainable economy.” As more and more money flows toward sustainability, more and more companies will begin to “get it” and will follow the flow.

Gore’s been labelled dull and robotic, but he seems to be loosening up and appears more comfortable with himself. My wife and I were thinking tonight about what the past five years would have been like (globally) if Gore actually was president. Now that’s a docudrama I’d like to see. Perhaps Gore will take another run at the job and attempt to put his convictions to work at the White House.

The other two Wired stories  (here and here) take a look at how the neo-green movement differs from the old environmental movement. Treehugging hippies, hemp, and sandals are out. The new greens — the “eco chic” — are interested in style and aren’t anti-business. They seek sexy organic clothing, drive Prius hybrids, install solar panels on their homes, and otherwise exercise their consumer dollars to make a point. Yeah, it costs more — but so do expensive cars. This is about making a statement and wearing your values, and that comes with a premium that a growing number happily pay. “Hemp ponchos and vegan sandals are butt-ugly, and most people who wear them look ridiculous,” the magazine says. “For a twentysomething on Friday night, a nubby brown sackcloth just doesn’t cut it.” Amen.

The magazine concludes: In a world awash in choice yet wary of race-to-the-bottom-line capitalism, more shoppers will pay a premium to know the source of ingredients and the practices in the supply chain. Yet a funny thing happens when consumers pay a little more for something: Producers rush in to give it to them. Which shrinks the premium and eventually makes the product widely attainable. After all, even Wal-Mart now sells organic food.

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