Epiphanyblog

All about ideas…

One of the smartest guys on the block discusses climate change solutions.

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This Sunday morning’s highlight is not watching Washington politicians and pundits talk, rant, spout party lines, and so on. No, it is watching CNN’s Fareed Zakaria. While the other Sunday morning political shows can be interesting. Sakaria’s show is always worth watching. Why? Because of his choice of guests.

This morning, Zakaria’s guest is Nathan Myhrvold. For most of us, we’ve never heard of this guy. But his resume stuns the mind. He began college at 13 and received his PhD in theoretical and mathematical physics at 23. Most PhD’s are awarded closer to the age of 30. In addition, he spent a year in post doctoral studies at Cambridge University under Steven Hawking. Before leaving Microsoft to form his own company, he was the company’s chief technology officer.

His Wikipedia page states:

Myhrvold is a prize-winning nature and wildlife photographer[6]. He is also involved with paleontological research on expeditions with the Museum of the Rockies. His work has appeared in scientific journals including Science, Nature, Paleobiology and the Physical Review, as well as Fortune, Time, National Geographic Traveler and Slate. He and Peter Rinearson helped Bill Gates write The Road Ahead, a book about the future that reached No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list in 1995 and 1996. Myhrvold has contributed $1 million to the SETI Foundation for the development of the Allen Telescope Array, planned to be the world’s most powerful radio telescope.

In addition to his business and scientific interests, he is a master French chef who has finished first and second in the world championship of barbecue in Memphis, Tennessee. He also works as an assistant chef at one of Seattle’s leading French restaurants.

So, what is so interesting about Zakaria’s interview with Myhrvold? The answer is a rational, intelligent discussion of climate change. Myhrvold says his company, Intellectual Ventures – a patent portfolio developer and broker, and he personally have been working on potential, economically viable solutions to this problem. And unlike others on both sides of the divide, he recognizes that we now live in a global economy. What happens to one country’s economy affects other countries and their people. So, any solution to climate change must recognize that rich countries cannot set rules that inevitably penalize poorer countries.

So, while he doesn’t have yet a final solution, he at least has some viable or starting point solutions that would give the world time to accomplish a longer term solution, while helping poorer countries raise up their own peoples. Listening to him, I thought, “here’s a guy firmly rooted in global reality, rather than ideology, who seeks economical solutions that will do no harm.

The fact that glaciers worldwide are melting cannot be disputed. Nor can the fact that the tundra ecosystems are changing as a result of melted permafrost. Denying these changes proves increasing more difficult as more and more pictures of green landscapes and open seas that for all of human history were covered in glaciers are published – and only exhibits ignorance of the planet.

Americans have two choices on the issue of climate change, even if they disagree on the cause. We can do nothing and risk that the science is accurate, in which case the results of that decision will be catastrophic for the planet, especially for human beings. Kind of like the proverbial ostrich sticking its’ head in the sand and hoping a hungry lion, in this case climate disasters, doesn’t bite it in the hind end. Personally, I believe that we’re already seeing many affects of climate change on human health and lives.

Or we can choose to change, even if it means enacting that dreaded word “tax”. If the science proves inaccurate, then we’ve lost nothing but weaning ourselves off increasingly expensive fossil fuels. Why do people spend large sums on insulating their homes? They spend the money to save money over the long-term by using less energy.

Should we not think in the same terms regarding our global environment? People like Myhrvold make so much sense that’s well worth listening to him.

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Written by Valerie Curl

December 20, 2009 at 1:16 PM

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