By Darren Eng
Bonjour Le Monde Vert! At the time of this writing, COP21 is in full swing in Paris, France and all eyes are watching. Despite the early release of a draft agreement, much is still left to debate. However, regardless of the literal outcome negotiated, regardless of the commitments first world countries pledged to the third world, and regardless of how much impact human activity actually has, or does not have, on global warming, there already appear to be several obvious forgone conclusions to consider as an investor:
The global warming debate is over
Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t give a **** if you agree
Climate adaptation is inevitable
It’s time to divest from fossil fuels
The Global Warming Debate Is Over
The major premise behind COP21 is that climate change is not only occurring, but will continue to occur, and that citizens of less developed (less wealthy) communities suffer the most. Moreover those deleterious impacts are expected to get exponentially worse. While the data remains inconclusive, albeit strongly suggestive, whether or not human activity caused global warming, overriding consensus appears to accept global warming itself is a fact. A fact which necessitates action and lots of monitoring.
Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t give a **** if you agree.
Not one to mince words, the Governator, Arnold Schwarzeneggar, continues his work alongside California’s current Governor Jerry Brown leading a global group of over 50 economically powerful states from a full range of countries, collectively committed to a cleaner future and to influencing COP21 from the sidelines. Arnold recently posted a poignant piece to his Facebook page titled “I don’t give a **** if we agree about climate change” in which he responds to vocal naysayers. He poses three questions that have merit regardless of whether you believe in the science of climate change.
First he asks if 19,000 daily fossil fuel pollution related deaths are acceptable. That’s 7 million per year! Second he asks whether fossil fuels will be the fuel of the future, emphasizing two facts: that fossil fuels are a limited resource and that a strong renewable energy policy helps drive California’s economy faster than the rest of our nation (40% of California’s power is renewable). He left out that today solar generates power less expensive than fossil fuels. And third he poses the question of which sealed room you would choose to be in for an hour. Each room contains a running vehicle: one gas powered, the other electric.
In effect, Arnold points out that the earth is one big sealed room in space. Moreover, renewable energy policy is good for the economy. Clean tech is good business.
Climate Adaptation is Inevitable
Acceptance of global warming leads to a whole new category of technologies and ideas designed to enable us to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Some call it climate adaptation. For example, if global warming is a fact, then water levels will continue to rise. If water levels continue to rise, significant land mass will submerge without human intervention, like levy construction or ground-level elevation. Thus, a new industry spawns to help below sea-level communities cope.
Sure some futurists and sci-fi writers have predicted it for decades, but now investors are sinking (pardon the pun) real money into what would have been considered hair brained ideas less than a decade ago. Heard about new “floating city” technology currently being designed and modelled? If not, then you probably have not heard that some of the funding comes from crowdfunding. Thousands of people have applied to be pioneers to move and live there. To succeed, ideas like floating cities require the advancement of the whole gamut of self-recycling, self-perpetuating technology currently pigeon-holed as either fanatically green or designed for a NASA space colony.
Accepting the inevitability of climate adaptation also suggests increasing main-stream dependence on technologies currently considered “green”. Prolonged drought requires expanding technologies for desalination, local ambient condensation (yes, that means literally getting water out of the air), and water recycling (wastewater purification). Air quality degradation creates a need to produce clean air in the living environment. Green walls and the science of integrating specific plant life into our homes and work place transitions from aesthetic nicety to necessity.
It’s Time to Divest from Fossil Fuels
Generally speaking, I prefer to look forward than backwards. Focusing on assessing solutions produces better results than complaining about the problems. But sometimes the doctor has to stop the bleeding before grafting on new skin. This is one of those times. Consider your investment allocations and ask yourself Arnold’s questions. Then consider: would you want to have been the last investor still holding buggy and bullwhip stocks once the automobile was invented?
If you decide to invest in clean/green tech, does it make sense to support companies proactively involved with turning that investment into a loss? Not only are oil companies competing directly for business, they are working behind the scenes, in the courtrooms, in the board rooms, and in the legislatures against every aspect of opportunity. Even worse, oil is one of the primary drivers of international territorial conflict, and along with drug traffic, is the primary funding source for middle-east based terrorism.
At a time when we as a nation have challenged ourselves to vote for a lesser of evils in our presidential elections, we have a clear opportunity to vote with our wallets. If our elected leaders all choose to be reactionary instead of visionary, then it’s up to us to proactively make the right decisions for them through our investment allocations. I doubt any of the big oil companies would pivot without a push. Startups do it and survive on no resources. Imagine if a company with a billion dollar war chest and deep government influence were to pivot to clean tech. One can only dream.
Back in the real world, divesting of fossil fuels and redeploying that capital into solid green / clean tech investments remains not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart investment choice too.
monitoring, solar, electric-vehicles, levies, ground-level elevation, floating-cities, desalination, condensation, water recycling, green-walls
Bio: Darren Eng is Chief Executive Officer and President of Greenbelt Resources Corporation. Prior to his appointment to CEO, Eng served as a Board Director starting in December 2008, and performed the role of Secretary for the Board from April 2009 to September 2009.
Eng has over 20 years of experience in executive leadership roles and entrepreneurial endeavors. As founder and President of The Sponsorship Group, he has been titled Executive Director or Senior Vice President of a number of professional organizations operated and managed by The Sponsorship Group staff. Other past senior management positions include Operational Director of Los Angeles Venture Association and Executive Vice President of the Digital Evolution Center. Prior to running various upstart companies and organizations throughout Southern California, Eng worked for nearly a decade in the environmental industry. From 1994 to 1998, he led teams of scientists and engineers at AECOM (formerly ENSR) as a project and team manager and served as a level III associate scientist. His work included regulatory compliance and liability assessments of Southern Natural Gas facilities and other large bank-financed industrial properties in the eastern U.S. from Maine to Louisiana.
Eng earned a Bachelor of Science degree in biology (environmental tract) from Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Eng is Chairperson of the GreenLAVA SIG for LAVA.org. He is also a current member of both the Men’s Guild for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Yale Science and Engineering Association.
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