Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Funding for Clean Energy

The government and a small group of investors are planning a million-dollar research campaign about global warming. The United States, India, China, as well as 16 other countries are planning on announcing this initiative tomorrow. This effort, called the "Mission Innovation," is unlike anything before and will be focused on the development of clean energy. The plan is to increase public investments by double. The Mission Innovation program includes the agreement of the 19 countries involved to increase their annual spending on research and development to $20 billion. The 19 countries involved are the United States, China, India, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Norway, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom. 

Large supporter of the initiative and Microsoft founder, Bill Gates will also be increasing his involvement in the matter. Gates is planning on investing large sums of money in startups that are focused on creating alternate sources of clean energy that people all over the world can afford. Gates is “optimistic that we can invent the tools we need” but wants to ensure that these companies have enough starting capital to make this happen. The investments made my Gates will be combined with investments from many other wealthy investors, including Mark Zuckerberg and Jeffrey Bezos (Amazon founder). Although the exact amount these investors contributed is unknown, it is safe to assume it is a very large sum of money. 

The announcement of the initiative came at the climate summit in Paris. Obama made a statement saying he is optimistic. (View his Facebook post regarding the conference here official announcement is expected to come this week at a conference with almost 200 countries in attendance. The goal of this conference is to create some sort of accord on reducing green house gas emissions

My questions for you are:

Do you think that climate change is something the government should be putting this much time and energy (no pun intended haha) into? Are there more pressing issues we should be worrying about instead?

Do you think the investments of Gates and the others will be enough to make significant progress in making clean energy global?



Tara Young said...

I think that even though there are some other very pressing issues, the climate change is a very concerning issue. The pollution causing the climate change is likely destroying our planet, and it is very possible that we won't be able to move to another one. Therefore, I do not think that the government effort put into the research of clean energy is a waste. Also, I think the investments of Gates and the others will make a difference because every dollar put towards finding a solution will be worth it.

Jessica Yeh said...

I think that climate change is an issue that is completely worth putting time, money, and energy into. While it is easy and also important to focus on current issues, if the world continues to avoid the issue of climate change, at some point in the future, the damage done to the environment will catch up with us, and it will be too late to present a good solution. Clean energy is an important investment for the future, and I think the world owes it to future generations to address this issue now.

Also, I think that the investments of private individuals is very important, as it's much harder and more inefficient for governments to appropriate funds to clean energy, since many would still oppose spending money on climate change. (This is somewhat similar to the article we read about Trump and building the ice rink must faster since he is an individual, except this case is dealing with Congress rather than a state's bureaucracy.) Overall, I think this funding for the research campaign is a good step in the right direction.

Caroline Mameesh said...

Like those above me, I believe climate change is indeed a pressing issue. While it is easy to put it off, as the human species tends to do with issues that don't directly concern us now, all the efforts we'll have put into other issues will be futile because we will no longer be able to survive on the planet in which these issues take place. Climate change needs to be addressed immediately, for, in not doing so, we seal our collective fate.
To answer the second question posed, I do believe private donations will help. As Jessica mentioned, individuals are at liberty to move processes along far more quickly than the bureaucracy can. That being said, private donations, I believe, carry more weight, and those making the donations can apply more pressure to get things moving along faster. Individual donations by those who care are the first step towards legitimately repairing the damage we have caused to our home planet.

Christopher Duan said...

I definitely believe that climate change is one of the most pressing issues that the government of the US, as well as the whole world, should be focused and concerned about. While there are other issues that are also important, I think that climate change is something that will affect the stability of civilization, as increasing scarcity of water and resources in certain areas will lead to further conflict. This issue is important because we have amoral obligation to keep this planet habitable.
Though Gates' investment will of course be moving in the right direction. I think that it is most important that our nation follow the lead of countries such as Germany and other European countries in promoting clean energy. The US has been a leader in science and technology for much of the last century, yet now many other countries supersede the United States, simply because of misinformation by commercial interest groups only in the United States.

Nick Jadallah said...

I agree that people who make donations like Bill Gates are important in the battle against climate change, however, people don't even need to make donations to help out. Everyday people can still contribute in small ways, and the more people start doing this, the more energy-conscious people will become. The more energy-conscious people become, the more of a REAL issue climate change will become in national politics. This is essential because in terms of long-term goals that will be substantial steps towards a cleaner future, governments need to be involved. And not just any governments, but the big ones, namely the U.S., China, Russia, India, etc.... Small donations can only do so much. Inter-governmental cooperation is the ONLY way to come up with a REAL SOLUTION to mitigate the brunt of damage climate change will inevitably cause in the future.
People don't realize how important of an issue climate change is because most people are not affected by it...yet (at least in the US). Because people are not affected by it, they have little reason to really push for serious legislation regarding the issue. Then there are the oil and coal industries who obviously would be against many climate change measure, because ultimately, ANY SERIOUS climate change agreement will need to create a path that moves slowly away from dirty fossil fuels towards cleaner renewable energy like solar, wind, tidal, geothermal. This would be bad for business, but it is a necessary step. Will people in West Virginia be upset? Yes. Do they have the right to be upset? Yes. Why? Because in places like West Virginia, coal mining and processing is huge industry, and when people start talking about renewable energy, the traditional, industrial-era energy companies will oppose it because their product will either be more expensive to produce due to new restrictions or less profitable due to new, alternative energy sources. Economically, it is damaging for them BUT what is more important, The coal companies economic woes or the world the next generation is going to inherit? If we wait until climate change starts to affect people, then we are way too late. If we act now, we will not repair anything. We are past that point. We still need to act now in order to prevent the "really bad stuff" from happening.
For the world to create a serious plan, everyone is going to need to make sacrifices. The big oil companies, the car companies, state governments, city governments, and ordinary people like you and me. Countries like Germany are on the right track. States like California are vastly improving. There are practical ways to achieve this goal; they require governments and large corporations, as well as ordinary people to bite the bullet because it will be worth it in the long run. Obama made a great point in his speech today. He mentioned how it is difficult to pass a comprehensive plan because WE probably won't see the effects of any climate legislation we pass. We probably won't notice a difference. The next generation may notice a difference, but it won't be anything dramatic. The reason climate change is an important issue is not because we are going to reverse the damage already done, like many people assume. The reason we need an agreement is to prevent further damage, more catastrophic damage from happening in the future.
Not to self-promote my article, but the "Jerry Brown and His Climate Change Diplomacy..." contains, among other things, an overview of some of the things California is doing in order to fight climate change.
Thanks and good article.

Jonathan Liu said...

I do think climate change is a big issue -- I mean of course it is, it threatens the whole world.
However, I don't think this is necessarily the best solution. The reason climate change isn't being addressed isn't that there isn't enough money or that an invention hasn't saved us all yet. The reason it hasn't been addressed is simply because not enough people care. The percentage of people who believe it is a problem is high, but the percentage of people who believe that (a) they can make a difference and (b) it's a problem significant enough to be worth considering. Maybe this is just me personally, but I feel like there's a very small percentage of people who realize how imminent of a problem it is, and the people who advocate that opinion are usually deemed hippies. So unless a massive breakout invention occurs that completely changes the way we address climate change, more funding won't help. Awareness -- true, meaningful awareness of the problem by a large proportion of the population -- is what I believe will solve the problem most effectively.

Abhishek Paramasivan said...

I agree that climate change is definitely a big issue, one could even argue that it is a cause of terrorism(ex. Bill Nye on Huffington post). Like Jonathan, I definitely think that either not knowing the issue of climate change or refusing to believe it exists is the main root of the issue here. For example, the second place republican candidate with about 20% of the votes says that nothing is wrong our current climate change. Educating everyone to make sure they know about the severity of the issue would be the first step. The next step to making so that this massive funding campaign is effective is to actually encourage clean energy. Oil companies get billions of dollars in subsides and any bills to cut them have been defeated in the senate because politicians are affiliated with the companies. Cutting these subsides and giving more incentive to developing cleaner fuel sources would allow more people to learn about climate change and realize it is a huge issue.