Blog Action Day on Climate Change
Yesterday was apparently Blog Action Day ’09 on Climate Change. At my last check, 13,163 blogs are writing about climate change today. With that in mind, I partly want to just leave it at that because there is probably a lot said in 1,000s of blogs already. But I’ll add perhaps a perspective on entrepreneurship.
On Monday I wrote about company vision, and whether you are working on the VERY BIG program. What very big problem are you contributing to solving? Where here certainly is a very big problem, and in the end it is going to have to be solved more by entrepreneurs than by political action and consumer behavior. Most of what the politicians can do it set up conditions to encourage the right innovations, but without innovation and entrepreneurship there will be no real change.
When most people talk about climate change and global warming, they are not intimately familiar with the data. I can’t say that I am intimately familiar but I’ve been through it many times and done some of the math behind the change rates and volumes. Here’s a way to think about what will and what won’t make a difference. Everyone loves to tout their hybrid purchase, but if every passenger car on the planet was replaced by a hybrid, it would barely made a dent and wouldn’t come close to reversing the trend lines in any significant way. And plug-in electrics: if you plug in your car anywhere in the midwest, we just made the problem worse because you plugged it into the coal-based grid. New innovation is needed. Here’s the kind of innovation that is needed. The two biggest emitters of the ‘wrong kind’ of gases are oil / coal and concrete. Most people still don’t know about concrete. The innovation needed – replace oil, coal, and concrete. Concrete is an emitter. There is some research that suggests that concrete, while curing, can be reformulated to absorb carbon-dioxide instead of emit it. This would turn concrete into a tree – pretty cool. But the research is early, it’s surely underfunded, and commercialization – that’s a whole other set of 100s of problems to solve. You don’t necessarily have to be the inventor, but a whole bunch of entrepreneurs are going to eventually contribute to the real solutions.
So what’s my action? Consider in all this discussion about climate change, what are we doing to encourage and support research and entrepreneurism in the sector? Without that, everything else is just good intentions without real change.