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The annual United Nations climate summit has convened, this year in Doha, the capital of the oil-rich emirate of Qatar, on the Arabian Peninsula. Dubbed "COP 18," an army of bureaucrats, business people and environmentalists are gathered ostensibly to limit global greenhouse-gas emissions to a level that scientists say will contain the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 degrees Fahrenheit), and perhaps stave off global climate catastrophe. If past meetings are any indication, national self-interest on the part of the world's largest polluters, paramount among them the United States, will trump global consensus.
In the interest of fighting climate change, most of us avoid buying SUVs -- fortress-like vehicles that aren't necessary unless one intends to take the whole family for a spin through downtown Baghdad.
Most of us also recycle and keep the thermostat low. However, these gestures are doing almost nothing to stop the warming of the planet.
There is a question from a gentleman in the fourth row.
He introduces himself as Richard Rothschild. He tells the crowd that he ran for county commissioner in Maryland's Carroll County because he had come to the conclusion that policies to combat global warming were actually "an attack on middle-class American capitalism." His question for the panelists, gathered in a Washington, D.C., Marriott Hotel in late June, is this: "To what extent is this entire movement simply a green Trojan horse, whose belly is full with red Marxist socioeconomic doctrine?"
Green energy is no baby any more. These days it's more like an over-achieving graduate student. The sector that has birthed itself in a climate of denial, financial and fiscal crisis and policy ping-pong is doing surprisingly well despite getting its higher education in this school of hard knocks.
Innovation is still the essential ingredient required to bring all the pieces together to make clean energy and money, too. Two new projects that are coming to light right now give a great glimpse of the outside-the-box approaches that are bridging the new industry's needs for breadth, resilience and, above all, financing. Thank goodness, because that's what we still so desperately need.