Seeing Bubbles

We have put two bubbles behind us over the last seven years, the web/tech bubble that took out both Internet 1.0 and set mobile computing back five years, and real estate/easy capital bubble that sent all our house prices into the tank.

But we are an irrationally exuberant society. So in its place must form a new bubble, a new fad, if you will. And while I am not particularly happy about identifying this one, as I think it’s a very good thing, it is starting to feel like a bubble.

What bubble, you ask? Well, this one’s a color… green.

The green movement bubble is starting to get out of hand. There are funds developing simply for green technology. There are retail stores devoted only to green products. There are companies popping up everywhere to take advantage of your guilt.

To be honest, this one makes me sad. It has been a long time coming that we, as a country, focused on sustainable living. I have been saying for years that our priorities around gasoline consumption should be considered a national security threat and we should be funding a move off that standard. When I was in college 12 years ago I wrote a paper saying $3/gallon gasoline would be the tipping point. I was close. It looks like $4/gallon will be it (12 years of inflation?).

But retail stores? How do you compete when everyone else has green clothing in their stores, too? And tech funds devoted to planting trees for every mile driven all funded out of personal guilt? I think it’s difficult to sustain.

Don’t get me wrong — it will be a good ride for a while. And great things will come of it. The tech bubble ushered in an era that made shopping easier and music digital and company marketing more manageable and trackable. Infinity Softworks wouldn’t exist if the only place to buy software was in retail. And the housing bubble increased home ownership substantially and made credit affordable to a lot of people that couldn’t get credit before.

Here’s hoping we get lots of excellent advancements before this green bubble pops.