09 April 2006

Climate Change: Kevin Sweeney's "Climate of Hope"

Readers of this blog know that I'm in favor of taking immediate action to address the impacts climate change, regardless of dissenting opinion about the science. We know enough now to suspect the changes will be dramatic, so we should take action to do what we can to prevent the most extreme effects. Moreover, the potential for investments in new technologies associated with alternative energies and climate mitigation could be just the shot in the arm our economy needs.

As I've said before, better to take action now than to wait until other countries seize the innovation day. I cannot understand why other free market believers don't espouse this point of view. I suspect it is a combination of being unable to admit they are wrong and not being able to see past the cloud of doom-and-gloom scenarios that keep coming our way.

Now for a breath of fresh air: an article in Salon.com this past week by Kevin Sweeney, a visiting prof at U.C. Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, which puts a positive, hopeful spin on the climate change issue. Sweeney, formerly of the Clinton administration and the outdoor clothing company Patagonia, articulates passionately for a national response to the crisis, along the lines of President Kennedy's call to put a man on the moon. In addition, he characterizes the potential clean energy revolution as Silicon Valley 2.0 and the Kyoto Protocol as market research on the climate change issue.

I disagree with Sweeney that we should lighten up completely -- the Time Magazine cover story from a few weeks ago warning us the "Be Worried, Be Very Worried" and the Ad Council spots I wrote about last month, are important steps in waking up America. But Sweeney makes a good case for why we should stop whining and look on the bright side of this issue.

Read it here: Sweeney's Salvo

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2 comments:

Lucida said...

i think that the reason the business community here isn't all over the potential to make money from climate change is that the time horizons are too long. the reality of running a public company (and therefore a private company that hopes to sell itself to a public company) is that what matters is quarterly earnings *this* quarter. even ceos and boards taking a long-term view have a hard time looking beyond 5-7 years.
in this case, i can't see how we will get the right focus without policy - policy can pull the far-away opportunities that climate crisis presents (odd to think of it that way, but that's what will motivate business: the opportunity to earn profits from addressing the crisis) into the present.

The Green Skeptic said...

I see your point. And I agree policy will help push, but I can't help hoping there are some enterprising souls out there who will put aside short term returns for seizing the edge as the long-term market leader. Maybe it's just wishful thinking.