Climate Change – The Opportunity

Reader Contribution by Michael Kelberer
article image

“It’s not all gloom and doom. This is an opportunity to reinvent and retool America.”

This was the heart of the message that weather entrepreneur Paul Douglas brought to the Federal Reserve Board of Minneapolis last week, and it is at the heart of understanding climate change as well.

We do need to understand the science, the danger, and the enormity of the challenges facing us. But we have to move beyond the debate, and I believe the key to movin

g beyond the debate is to focus on the opportunities. Do that, and we might find the political will to do something about our planet’s health before it deteriorates too far.

We have only to look around the globe to realize that Green is a growth industry. As Paul Douglas notes, no other large economic player on the planet denies the science any more. But we do. And their economies are rushing to invent and produce the systems and equipment we need to “reinvent and retool” their economies. And we aren’t.

“We need to create America 2.0,” continues Douglas. “Mitigating climate change will require a level of sustained innovation and American reinvention that will propel the USA to a new competitive paradigm. American Exceptionalism: this is our Energy Moonshoot.”

On his own journey, Douglas has arrived at this conclusion by following two paths until they intersected.

First, as a long-time weather specialist, he is acutely aware of the naturally variability of weather, but he also became increasingly aware of the trends toward warmer and more severe weather. He researched the climate science, and found it more and more compelling. In fact, the “climate alarmists” had been, in fact, consistently underestimating the effects of global warming.

Second, as a moderate Republican and serial entrepreneur, Douglas has a deep faith in the power of American business. It has always shown an inspiring ability to create, invent, and produce, especially in the face of crisis. Think of the unbelievably fast and effective turning of our country’s manufacturing base from peacetime to wartime production at the start of world war two. Think of how effortlessly they solved the problems of ozone depletion and tailpipe emissions.

And, says Douglas, America’s businesses are waking up. Big Insurance is starting to base its rates on the realities of unmitigated climate change, and their business customers are starting to pay attention. Whatever you may think of their motives, Walmart’s greening of its supply chain has made profound changes to the manufacturing, packaging and transportation practices of its suppliers, which represents a pretty healthy slice of the economy. General Electric (think “Ecoimagination”) is on board in a big way, and in the Minneapolis paper yesterday came the news that Cargill, a major mover of food raw materials around the globe, is doing the same.


Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Author comment: Someone is going to build these things!

Connect with Paul Douglas:

Connect with Michael Kelberer: