The New Grapevine

Green Investors Can’t Ignore Blogs Anymore

For environmentalists interested in socially conscious investing, Internet weblogs ("blogs" for short) are becoming a can"t-miss source of opinion, commentary and information. Whether you want to choose stocks, follow the latest environmental invention, file a shareholder resolution or just keep up with environmental news and trends, there is no doubt that blogs are worth tracking. The trick is finding the good ones.

One of the hottest environmental blogs is Greenthinkers (www.greenthinkers.org/blog), where recent posts have addressed harnessing the ocean and its tides as a power source, the financial efficiencies of low-waste factories, and how New York City is replacing thousands of gas-powered taxis with hybrid models. The posts include links to related news articles. By going over blogs like this, investors can get invaluable information on new sectors to explore. Readers are invited to post their own comments below any blog entries, opening up the discussion to a potentially wide range of views.

Other blogs of interest include Sustainablog (http://sustainablog.blogspot. com), which offers news and commentary on environmental and economic sustainability, green business and environmental politics. Another is WorldChanging (www.worldchanging.com), a collaborative blog dedicated to analyzing and publicizing the "tools, models and ideas for building a better future." It’s unabashed about its "clear bias towards democracy, human rights and civic freedoms."

The Commons blog (http://commonsblog.org) features the posts of several different writers, all committed to the notion of using the free market to protect the environment. Deconsumption blog (http://deconsumption.typepad.com), authored by an investment advisor at a top-tier financial firm, decries the wastefulness of our society and advocates consuming less in order to save the planet.

The AE Man Blog (http://aemans world.blogspot.com) is a one-stop candy store for investors looking for new opportunities in the field of alternative energy. One recent post discusses how low-cost, high-energy solar concentrators are poised to revolutionize the residential solar industry. Other recent AE Man posts discuss GE’s energy conservation awakening, the potential for Midwestern wind turbines to power the entire U.S., Honda’s boundary-pushing new hydrogen fuel-cell prototype and Brazil’s effort to use its boundless sugar cane crop to become the world’s premier ethanol source. Each one of these pieces is potentially useful for green investors looking to get in on the next big thing.

Journalistic Bloggers

Clean technology and green investing pundit Joel Makower publishes his rants and raves on Two Steps Forward (http://mak ower.typepad.com), his personal blog. Makower was pleasantly surprised by the popularity of his blog, which is a year old. Some 93,000 readers perused his posts in August 2005, up more than 15-fold in just six months. Makower likes the steady stream of feedback he receives from readers including students, government officials, business executives, activists and consumers.

Journalist Jonathan Maslow uses his blog, the Energy Independent (http://theenergyindependent. blogspot.com), to analyze and comment on a wide range of news stories related to the energy sector. Indeed, probably in stark contrast to his day job as an editor at a daily newspaper, Maslow pulls no punches on his blog, which is devoted to exposing the folly of our society’s fossil fuel dependency, and has been especially caustic regarding subsidies for fossil fuel development in the new energy bill. He cites journalistic freedom as one of the main attributes of blogging for him. "The mainstream media in this country is so far from the democratic ideal of a free press it’s crying time," he says. "The blogosphere is not just free speech, but free thought."

Analysts estimate that there are more than nine million active blogs on the Internet today, with 40,000 new ones popping up each and every day. Indeed, some observers, like Maslow, would say that it is blogs that finally delivered on the Internet’s promise to democratize the media. But part of what makes blogs a democratizing force is their elimination of all barriers to publishing. Anyone who can type on a computer keyboard can start one for free.

Readers should, therefore, consider the source of any information they get from blogs. It’s unlikely to have been peer-reviewed, checked for legitimacy, or even scanned for proper grammar. And when it comes to blogs that address financial topics, the Securities and Exchange Commission definitely does not have you covered in case you act impetuously on online tips. But blogs are having an impact on millions of web surfers, and they’re emerging as a great source of information on cutting-edge green investment opportunities.

RODDY SCHEER visits weblogs, but checks the content.

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