I've been away on vacation (Portugal, London, and New Jersey [down the shore]) and busy working on several start-ups in various stages of incubation. As a result I haven't blogged in awhile. I'm back for the 10 people who care. :-)
Lots of conversations in the world and in the blogosphere about Global Warming. This interesting speech by author Michael Crichton got me thinking. He's a fascinating guy. He wrote an autobiography (called "Travels" as I recall) which I read years ago. He's almost 7 feet tall (which most people don't know), he climbed Mount Everest, among other things. Anyway, this speech is a bit sobering regarding our intense stupidity when it comes to understanding the complex system that is the world. He points out some interesting past calls of gloom and doom that never came to pass. He now turns his focus to Global Warming.
My view is that we should act to move away faster from fossil fuels and from all carbon-based fuels (like ethanol and methanol) as well if possible, as I agree the preponderance of evidence is that Global Warming is indeed real. No matter whether human activity is the cause or not, burning fossil fuels does release lots of earth warming molecules (greenhouse gases) and alternatives should be found. But that is a difficult decision to make economically. Changing the entire US and World energy economy away from oil is not going to happen easily, quickly or cheaply. It is literally a multi-trillion dollar infrastructure. Nonetheless, I believe it is time to begin to act as quickly as possible. Government change is almost always the least efficient means to effect change. Free markets are almost always the best means.
But there are other motives for change that have nothing to do with Global Warming that are now driving the innovation that is change.
Perhaps the most ironic motive for change is what's happening in the Middle East. A move away from an oil economy would weaken terrorists, removing the source of their funding and (except for Israel) remove many "US interests in the region" that cause us to try and police this volatile and backward region of the world.
The good news, and yet another irony for me is that the instability in the Middle East (some caused by us, much of it not) has caused an historic rise in the price of oil. This has in turn caused the price of gasoline to spike. This has then made alternative fuel sources - previously too costly to explore - more economically viable in the marketplace. I like to think that the terrorists, being human, have underestimated the complex systems of their regions natural resource, oil, and have unwittingly put into play a market driver to move away from oil - and away from their financial lifeline. Without oil revenues, within 10 years the Middle East will descend into poverty.
Ironic eh? The ingenuity of entrepreneurs in all the free nations of the world, including America, now have economic incentive to solve this problem and make lots of money for themselves. More ironic still, even the oil companies (re-investing their record profits) are now incentivized to look for alternative fuels. Unfortunately they are looking to mining domestic oil shale - rather than renewable sources - but that's free markets for you.
I believe that high oil prices - and they just keep climbing - are the key driver for our free markets to create profitable solutions. Still this will take time. My belief is that this, using free market drivers and American ingenuity, is the key that will solve this problem, forever. Whether or not it's too late, and we've past a tipping point to stop global climate change, is something we won't know for a generation, maybe more. That die is cast.