Benefiting from Global Warming
Billionaire Richard Branson is on mission to save the planet—and he is not alone. He has asked some of his billionaire friends, such as Larry Page of Google, Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia, and Tony Blair (who is one of the few people in this effort who is not incredibly rich) whether the “planet is on fire”, and they all seem to agree that it either is, or might as well be. His group of associates are now, according to Richard Stromback (another billionaire), plotting to save the planet.
Some of their efforts are a little impractical. Larry Page proudly jet-pools in from Silicon Valley, which I’m pretty sure doesn’t save all that much carbon dioxide in the long run. They don’t seem to have things together just yet, which is evidenced by Tony Blair’s statement that “we have an agreement that there should be an agreement. But there's no agreement on what that agreement should be.”
The plan is, these people will invest in “green” technologies. Some of these individuals, such as Stromback and billionaire (another one) venture capitalist Vinod Khosla have already dumped millions of dollars into green technologies. Others have projects in the works. If these billionaires make a significant investment in green technology, the industry will get a tremendous boost.
The idea of a bunch of billionaires partying in the Caribbean congratulating themselves on their ability and intent to save the earth is silly. But what they are doing is important and beneficial.
Global warming may or may not exist. If it does, it may or may not be caused by humans. If it is, we really cannot do anything about it. The sheer of amount of carbon dioxide produced by humans makes any attempt to limit it in a meaningful way hopeless. Even Al Gore’s more improbable plans (such as the idea that the U.S. accept the Kyoto Protocols) would do literally nothing to stop any global warming. Branson’s efforts to stop global warming are a little bit like investing money in a program to stop giant asteroids from hitting earth—it’s a nice thought, but the threat is remote and there isn’t anything we can do anyway.
Branson and Company won’t save the earth. However, they will do some good. Alternate energy really is a good idea. (I believe that if the solar energy people advertised their product as a source of practically free energy, instead of touting environmental benefits, solar energy would be a practical reality today). Oil won’t last much longer—we are starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel. Oil prices are now over $100 a barrel, and could easily go up.
Coal is a good source of energy, and is plentiful, but it does ruin the environment and is dangerous to those who mine it. Nuclear energy is plentiful, safe, and clean. However, even if the Left would allow the construction of nuclear power plants, it would not be the answer to all of earth’s energy problems. For example, it wouldn’t do much to power automobiles, and couldn’t be used in Third World countries (unless you want to stick a nuclear plant in, say, Sudan).
Alternate technologies have a great deal of promise. If they get funding from entrepreneurs who are looking to make money, as opposed to simply trying to make a gesture, they could become incredibly useful. Branson, Stromback, and the rest may be environmentalists—but they are also incredibly successful businessmen. There has never been as good a time to develop alternate technologies—and if these billionaires are successful, they will finally free us from expensive Middle Eastern oil, and they will also make incredible amounts of money. And if they can do the former, they deserve the latter.