Sunday, November 25, 2007

Lorax Economics And Nano's New Name

Here's a piece of dialog that was in the TV version of "The Lorax," (click above, or here), but not in the book that I read to my kids.

The Once-ler: Well, what do you want? I should shut down my factory, fire a hundred-thousand workers? Is that good economics, is that sound for the country?

The Lorax: I see your point. But I wouldn't know the answer.

Excellent, cutting-edge stuff! Pure greed vs. pure innocence. And, as is usually the case, the villain is a great deal more interesting than the hero. That dirty ol' Onceler has thought about the issues, while the one-dimensional Lorax cannot see the forest for the trees.

Here's another excerpt:

The Lorax: I'm sorry to yell, but my dander is up! let me say a few words about gluppity-glupp. Your machinery chugs on, day and night without stop, making gluppity-glupp, and also schloppity-schlopp! And what do you do with this left-over goo? I'll show you, you dirty old Once-ler man, you!

Well, today, that very same dirty old Onceler man -- who, remember, is driven purely by the profit motive (forget about the end of the book, where the Onceler sees the error of his ways) -- could today become a "cleantech" entrepreneur. It's not that he feels bad about the gluppity-glupp and schloppity-schlopp, it's just that different times call for different methods of making profit.

However, just because the Lorax has the megaphone right now does not make him any less naive and unaware than when he could not answer a simple question regarding economics and labor back in the 1960s. The herd stampedes toward cleantech from nanotech and every other tech, yet the profits will come to only a few -- and even then, most likely to the biggest Oncelers on the block and not the small entrepreneurs.

After that, some elements of nanotech will be ready for prime time -- such as the new materials and technologies that will power our cars more cleanly and will clean up the leftover schloppity-schlopp. It will be confusing, since the Loraxes and other self-appointed watchdogs of the environment have already convinced many that nanotech is actually dangerous and polluting. So, nanotech might be sold by any other name, since the ol' nano prefix has run its course in this cycle.

How about this for a new "nano" name? "Thneed!"

After all, everybody needs a Thneed.

Son of McMonkey McBean
Cleantech's the new nano; nano's the new dot-bomb

No comments: