02 May 2011

Osama bin Laden and Green Business

Will the death of Osama bin Laden have any impact on clean tech, green and sustainability trends and businesses? It might, via a potential boost to President Obama.

Many comentators immediately suggested that the successful elimination of bin Laden, a goal which eluded former President George W. Bush, could boost President Obama's chances of re-election. If it does, that will affect the policies that will be followed in the future. It might mean more federal support for clean technology, more aggressive enforcement on the part of the EPA, and other policies that would encourage the development and adoption of low-carbon energy sources.

graph of Obama's chances on Intrade
Spike in Obama's Re-election Chances on Intrade Prediction Market

The Intrade® reading on Obama's chances jumped to 69%, though it dropped back to 62% on Monday, after the market had digested the news. That's still significantly above the trend during April. Check the latest market action here.
Intrade is a "prediction market" [Wikipedia article here], an exchange where traders can buy or sell contracts the ultimate values of which depend on whether the a particular future event occurs. They are a way of aggregating the opinions of thousands of traders, each of whom thinks he or she knows more than the rest of the market, and hopes to profit if he or she correctly predicts how the market will settle. Sort of a "wisdom of crowds" system.
Here are the immediate reactions of some commentators* observers who suggest President Obama will benefit from success in liquidating Mr. bin Laden:
  • The "Democracy in America" blog at The Economist says, "It means Barack Obama is probably getting re-elected."
  • Jeff Mason says in commentary at Reuters, "His dramatic announcement about bin Laden's death will switch the U.S. public's attention to his success as commander-in-chief, creating an image of strength."
  • Gary Langer blogs at ABC News that "While some bump for the president is entirely possible, how big it is and how long it lasts is an open question," and interprets some past poll results.
  • Nate Silver's New York Times blog says, "To state the obvious, this is good news for Barack Obama’s re-election campaign."
It would appear that the President may have gained some political capital that will help him keep the EPA moving forward on greenhouse gas issues, will help him maintain support for clean tech innovation, and will otherwise enable him to stand firm on sustainability issues. At least a little firmer than he could have stood a few days ago.

Obama may not be as green a president as Al Gore would have been, but he's certainly greener than most, if not all, of the Republican field. Bin Laden's demise is a little bit of good news for clean tech.

The graph is from https://data.intrade.com/graphing/jsp/closingPricesForm.jsp?contractId=743474&tradeURL=https://www.intrade.com.

* Shouldn't that be "commentors" or "commenters" Is "commentate" really a word? Maybe it comes from "commentary" rather than "comment", but darned if I can see how. "Commentate" is defined as "to serve as commentator". No further commentation.

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