The man who brought us the iPod has just unveiled his latest creation: the Nest, a self-programming thermostat which adapts itself to your habits. In addition to looking nice, the self-programming feature allows people to save significantly on utilities by adapting to daily patterns and turning down energy usage while the house is empty.This is how the world improves. Innovations make it easier and cheaper for people to do what they want. By cutting down on energy usage during times when no one is home, the Nest significantly reduces the energy footprint of households, which in turn cuts down on home energy costs.Amazingly, projects like this can tap financial markets successfully without federal guarantees or loan subsidies; because the ideas behind them look sound, private investors back these technologies at no cost to taxpayers.The world needs fewer Malthusian green hactivists, and more smart innovators who think green. Let’s hope the next generation of environmentalists is a generation of tinkerers, innovators and builders rather than a generation of leaflet distributors, envelope stuffers and foundation-fund scroungers.