We are all painfully aware that oil prices have doubled over the last two years, and despite the fact that the price has recently fallen from its high of $147 a barrel, it is still at record levels. Here in the United States, the politicians have come up with all types of solutions. Some have advocated working harder to extract oil from Rocky Mountain oil shale. Others have suggested that the market be flooded with petrol from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Yet others advocate additional offshore drilling.

While many politicians are busy giving short term platitudes designed to placate the electorate, the marketplace is working on long term solutions to our crisis of oil dependency. Happily, Jewish innovators and business people are at the forefront of this effort.

Israeli Businessman Shai Agassi has created a company entitled Project Better Place which is working on an innovative model that will allow people to drive electric cars long distances without the need to stop and spend hours recharging the batteries. Agassi claims that by 2011 the infrastructure will be in place for Israelis to buy and drive only electric vehicles. There is a similar plan being rolled out by Project Better Place in Amsterdam, Portugal is set to follow suit, and is seems that the UK may also be interested in following the same model.

Also recently in the news was another prominent member of the Jewish community, former California Assembly speaker Bob Hertzberg, who just raised fifty million dollars for his latest renewable energy project. In addition, my friend Sam Jaffe has recently started a company that has technology with the potential to revolutionize the power of renewable energy. All of this Jewish focus on renewable energy technology is not only a great investment, it is a massive mitzvah and one of the major callings of our time.

There are two main issues at stake here, the first environmental and the second geopolitical—neither of which can be ignored and both of which are of Jewish interest.

In the story of creation the Torah alludes numerous times to the need to protect the environment. In fact there is a Midrash (Ecclesiastes Rabbah 7:13) that may relate directly to our usage and therefore destruction of irreplaceable fossil fuel. It talks about how G‑d warned Adam, the primordial man, not to ruin or destroy the planet because it is irreplaceable. Clearly the Torah would advocate using energy that can be renewed rather than using up the earth's resources that will never grow back.

However, there is a real geo-political concern here as well. The Middle East has 54% of identified oil reserves and is therefore the biggest exporter of crude. With oil at current high prices this is bringing them trillions of dollars a year. Simply put, giving unstable regions of the world that kind of wealth is madness.

As the Middle East becomes more and more radicalized, the possibility of an oil-rich country falling into the hands of terrorists is a potential reality. With our heavy reliance on their oil for our economic stability they could easily hold Western countries hostage. As it is there is evidence that our petrol dollars end up supporting the activities of terrorists that kill innocent – primarily Israeli – men, women and children. Freeing ourselves from the grips of Middle Eastern oil is literally a matter of life and death.

The Torah says (Leviticus 19:16): "You shall not stand idly by [the shedding of] your fellow's blood." Maimonides (Laws of Murder 1:13) explains this verse to mean that one who is able to save another and does not do so is considered themselves to be murderer. Clearly we are ethically obliged to do all that is in our power to avoid a situation that will result in the further loss of life.

The only way remove the immense oil revenues unstable Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and Iran receive is by removing oil as a source of our energy. While the politicians are "standing idly by" those such as Shai Agassi, Bob Hertzberg, Sam Jaffe and their investors who are working towards total renewable energy reliance are doing mitzvot on multiple levels.

The Talmud says (Sanhedrin 37a), "One who saves one life is considered to have saved the entire universe." Indeed the alternative energy innovators and investors are saving the universe in more ways than one.