There’s no individual that exemplifies the merging of the environmental movement and the technology industry more than former Vice President Al Gore. By now everyone’s seen his Academy Award-winning plea to fight climate change, and he’s a senior adviser to Google (GOOG), an Apple (AAPL) board member, and founder of video network CurrentTV.
With the news that Gore and the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change have won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work on alerting the world about global warming, the man that’s become the face of the merger of green and tech has been elevated to the lauded status of former winners like Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa.
Innovations to fight climate change are now on par with humanitarian missions to create peace. Like everything else this year, the Nobel Peace Prize has gone green. And the green technology industry is sure to get yet another bout of attention. Does it need it? Yes and no.
Investors might say there’s already too much attention being given to certain green or cleantech sectors. There’s a bubble building in biofuels and solar, with venture capitalists pointing to rising valuations. And firms that have been investing in energy for years are getting disgruntled at all the newcomers moving in.
But the attention also means more young people are getting excited about studying scientific fields that can help climate change. University professors have seen an uptick in student interest in fields like biofuels, and the next disruptive game-changer for energy will likely come out of the labs of the next generation of scientists. More and more jobs are also being created by greentech, particularly sectors like solar.
The Gore-greening of the Nobel Peace Prize also adds even more legitimacy to the renewable energy efforts of progressive utilities and the carbon reduction efforts of big businesses. Consumers are going to expect companies to be eco (and eventually carbon neutral), and not applaud fake green efforts that do little and talk big.
While Al Gore might not represent investing in alternative energy the way, say, Vinod Khosla or John Doerr does, Gore represents the most important merger taking place right now — the joining of technology and environmentalism in new and fundamental ways. Gore is the quintessential eco-technologist, and we congratulate him.