Sunday, March 23, 2008

Global Warming's Silver Lining

I was truly intrigued by a couple of articles that I came across in the Saturday edition of the New York Times this weekend. The first, an article about Norway's plans to go carbon neutral by 2050, was the interest of a previous blogger (A. Cuellar). Like A. Cuellar, I was struck by the concept of going "carbon neutral" without making any (lifestyle) changes of their own (in this case an entire nation).

But the other article that caught my eye was about a recent gathering of Richard Branson and like-minded entrepenuers (all wealthy like Branson). They were meeting on Necker Island which Branson owns to discuss several things including whether the general consensus among these mostly wealthy businessmen believe global warming is real, and what this means for green business ventures. Some of the attendees including Branson already have investments in green energy alternatives (remember Branson's biofuels powered airliner flight of a month ago?). According to this article written by Andrew Ross Sorkin, the ideas that were thrown around at this meeting ranged from creative insurance products for pricing risks, to "sexy electric sports cars" that sell for $100,000.

This gathering of rich folk in the Caribbean made me wonder whether it's more about the money and finding a way to get rich, or whether it's about finding a way to cut carbon emissions. For example, nothing in the article made me think that these folks as individuals were trying to reduce their own carbon footprint. According to Mr. Sorkin, Branson states that it is a goal of his to have his island become carbon neutral (perhaps like Norway). And this ties back to the article mentioned above. Have we entered a stage of environmental awareness, where smart businessmen will capitalize, but the western world's carbon footprint will see little impact? Should it even matter to me or you? If someone is willing to take $10 million of their own and invest it in a green technology start-up, can I overlook other factors?

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