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HolidayBuyer's Guide

The increasing ubiquity of Cleantech

Companies are getting greener and greener, at least in their ads.

I have subscribed to Forbes for over a decade because, unlike many other popular business journals, it seems to have a genuine voice -- even if I sometimes disagree with it.

On a plane flight from Cleveland to L.A. last Thursday night, I read the March 10, 2008 issue, and was amazed at how pervasive cleantech has become -- even in its stoutly conservative pages:

• Pages 4-5: an advertisement from General Electric (NYSE: GE) touting their solar efforts.

• Page 24: an advertisement announcing the winners of the 2008 Eni Awards, sponsored by the Italian energy giant Eni (NYSE: E), "aimed to promote research and technology innovation in the field of energy and its concersion, with particular focus on renewable sources."

• Pages 38 and 40: an article on Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), profiling their (relatively) progressive stance on carbon legislation.

• Page 39: an advertisement from BP (NYSE: BP), illustrating their investments in domestic energy opportunities, especially highlighting biofuels and solar. • Page 56: an advertisement by SKF (Stockholm: SKF) -- one of the largest suppliers of bearings for wind turbines.

• Page 71: an advertisement by XL Capital (NYSE: XL) featuring an illustrated solar farm, promoting their "strength to cover the world's largest energy and environmental risks".

• Page 85: an advertisement by Siemens (NYSE: SI) depicting their offshore wind turbines.

It was the SKF ad that really floored me, making me take notice just how ubiquitous cleantech is truly becoming. I've never seen SFK advertise anywhere before. Just which decision-makers is SKF trying to reach with this placement in a mass-market magazine?

Cleantech is seemingly everywhere. True, some of it may be "greenwash", but a lot of it is real, and it is growing.

Then I went back to reading the magazine, and realized we still have a ways to go: on p. 19, Steve Forbes writes yet another editorial continuing to stoutly deny climate change. I laugh and shake my head: some things never change.

Maybe Mr. Forbes should take better note of what the major corporations showing up in the pages of his magazine are actually doing to make money. After all, isn't Forbes the paragon of capitalism? If companies are rushing to cleantech in droves, shouldn't Forbes take heed of what the market is leading these companies to do to increase their profitable growth?

Richard T. Stuebi is the BP Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement at The Cleveland Foundation, and is also the Founder and President of NextWave Energy, Inc.