New Year 2013 – Call to Action
Our planet is facing unprecedented manmade challenges to long-term sustainability. NASA Ames Research Center and Sustainable Silicon Valley and partners are collaborating to showcase game-changing solutions for local and global sustainability. What scope and scale of change is required for a resilient future?
Enter your solution by January 31, 2013 and plan to join us on March 7 for the announcement of finalists and on May 23, 2013 for a conference on the challenges we face and how to mobilize solutions that will matter.
Read on for a thought-provoking call to action…
2013 is the year of telling the truth and taking action to save human civilization. The Wall Street Journal claims that Silicon Valley venture capitalists are disappointed in the performance of their clean tech investments and are shifting back to ecommerce, IT and social media investments, which have a faster and higher return.
Solar and wind companies are struggling to compete with the price of electricity generated by burning coal or natural gas. Meanwhile, glaciers are collapsing faster in the last ten years than in the previous 100. Storms and droughts are becoming increasingly fierce – threatening agriculture – humanity’s method of feeding ourselves and enabling specialized labor for purposes beyond subsistence.
Like athletes using metabolic steroids, we frantically pump toxic chemicals, sand and steam at high pressure into the veins of the earth, to shake loose more natural gas and oil to burn. In doing so, we destroy the ancient geological structures that store pristine, alluvial waters. Over-pumping water resources – at rates faster than replenishment – is causing further damage, leading to subsidence, salinization and structural damage to aquifers all over the world.
Are people really not willing to pay a few cents more per kilowatt hour for power generated by solar or wind, knowing that the environmental benefits will be enormous?
- We pay more to send our children to good schools – either living in more expensive neighborhoods with good public schools or paying tuition at parochial or private schools.
- Students vie to get into the top universities, taking on significant debt, to get a better education and access to a stronger network, so that they can have improved odds of success in their future careers.
- We use helicopters to transport trauma victims to hospitals with excellent trauma centers rather than using a cheaper ambulance to go to the nearest county hospital when lives hang in the balance.
- We forbid athletes from pumping themselves full of steroids, which boost short-term performance but can have devastating long-term health effects.
Price is not the only determinant in a market economy. Other factors matter in many of the choices we make. People even donate generous sums to schools and hospitals to make them even better because of the benefits they bring to individuals and to society.
Lowest price is not the most important factor in the energy economy, when viewed from a larger point of view. The market price does not reflect the true costs of business risk from catastrophic weather events, to society (such as impaired health), to the climate, to water resources and other life support systems on which our civilization depends.
If the cost of burning all of the known and yet to be discovered fossil fuel resources is to make our planet uninhabitable, we can decide as nations and as a world community of nations, to make a different choice.
We can decide to invest in our children’s future by conducting a rapid and complete shift away from extracting and burning fossil fuels to using sources of energy that are less harmful to the life support systems of the planet.
We could ban the use of metabolic steroids that is hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and stop pumping toxic chemicals into the earth’s veins for short-term gain.
We could invest in public transport and bicycle infrastructure to help people transition away from the internal combustion engine and single occupancy vehicles.
We could declare the burning of fossil fuels to be a crime against civilization and make the fossil fuel industry transition to new energy sources over a set period of time, perhaps a decade. Creating truth and reconciliation tribunals for the fossil fuel industry would provide a forum for driving a shift towards innovative, resilient energy sources, systems and solutions.
The welfare of our children, of all species, is more important than the balance sheet and annual profits of any particular corporation.
We are facing a civilization emergency and bickering about the lowest cost sources of energy, rather than finding the best trauma center that can save our collective lives and future.
About the author: Marianna Grossman is President and Executive Director of Sustainable Silicon Valley and is committed to galvanizing meaningful action toward a regenerative economy and a resilient society. Her twin daughters are her inspiration.
About Sustainable Silicon Valley (SSV): A consortium of companies, government agencies, universities and other institutions, SSV builds capacity of sustainability leaders, businesses, communities and organizations and pilots solutions that bridge the gap between policy and action, featuring advanced technology solutions from our partners to create a sustainable region and world. In partnership with NASA Ames Research Center, SSV is organizing a Showcase of Solutions for Planetary Sustainability on May 23, 2013.
You are invited to enter the Call for Solutions by Jan. 15, 2013.
 Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2012, 6:59 p.m. ET
Silicon Valley's Green Energy Mistake: Political venture capital turns out to be a loser. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323401904578159660625274422.html
 Film and website Chasing Ice documents collapse of world’s ice masses. Created by photographer James Balog.