Henry Ford, the Founder of Ford Motor Company is famously attributed to this statement. “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” In other words, most of us think linearly.
One wonders if this line of reasoning is the best way during the current situation. Perhaps, non-linear mindsets are more appropriate.
Currently, many define an existential threat as Climate Change. Additionally, the global economy, the War in Ukraine, bad actors and other ills make the daily news. We are also told the time is of the essence. However, it appears the window will close before the appropriate linear responses can come online.
As the pandemic unfolded in early 2020, we penned a piece on the role innovation would play addressing the global scourge. We put forth some points we believed salient at the time such as:
- The rise of remote work
- The ability to scale quickly, i.e., vaccines, ventilators, et. al.
- Changes in Clinical Trial protocols
From the same blog, this pundit has long advocated that, “the use of knowledge enabled by technology can reduce project cycle time dramatically. It can also significantly reduce project cost as well.”
As we look back on that period, the collective global ‘we’ accomplished a lot. A plethora of useful materials were developed and published by all manner Subject Matter Experts (SME) as well as those with ‘life knowledge.’ We chose to capture and repost materials (Covid-19 Business Continuity Resources) that could of use to those business executives struggling with work force issues. These materials remain available.
Regrettable, the term SCIENCE was terribly misused, including by medical professionals and professional scientists, all of whom should have known better. This discussion is further developed in our blog, They Blinded Me with Science. For interested readers, the piece develops the concepts of science and pseudo-science as well as a brief methodology all can use to help them assess what they are being told about major issues.
Actual Science has moved humanity out of the caves and into our modern world. Likely, it can help us address current and future global challenges. The proven innovative use of the Scientific Method is one path forward.
SpaceX – NASA
Elon Musk is in the news for a number of reasons. He is perhaps one of the best know billionaires. In the opinion of this pundit, the partnership between his company SpaceX and NASA appears to be one of the most productive Public-Private Partnerships (PPP). Perhaps this good or best practice could be emulated by others seeking new ways to innovate.
Realistic Energy Transition
Energy Transition is all the rage with all manner or organization jumping on board. Somewhat reminds me of the late 1990s dot.com era. According to Wikipedia, after the ensuring bust, “the NASDAQ-100 had dropped to 1,114, down 78% from its peak.” Makes one wonder that this might not be the first rodeo for the latest ‘change the world shinny object.’
Previously, we noted that the replacement of a major highway ramp in Houston, TX USA is slated to take two years. Additionally, according to McKinsey, “The goal is to install 500,000 public chargers—publicly accessible charging stations compatible with all vehicles and technologies—nationwide by 2030.” Message: infrastructure development takes a certain amount of time.
Also from McKinsey, “Capital spending on physical assets for energy and land-use systems in the net-zero transition between 2021 and 2050 would amount to about $275 trillion, or $9.2 trillion per year on average, an annual increase of as much as $3.5 trillion from today. To put this increase in comparative terms, the $3.5 trillion is approximately equivalent, in 2020, to half of global corporate profits, one-quarter of total tax revenue, and 7 percent of household spending.”
As of this writing the global stock markets appear to be in freefall. Some believe, including this author that a Recession is imminent. This begs the obvious. How will this linear effort be paid for and what will be the return on this huge investment?
There must be a better way.
Innovate, Innovate, Innovate
In his recent book, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet noted climate change advocate, Bjorn Lomborg expresses concern regarding linear type scenarios and investments being made reduces climate change to Net Zero.
He argues that regardless of efforts made such as described herein, we will not defeat global warming. The temperature will rise anyway.
If this is the case, then the ROI from a $275 trillion dollar commitment may in fact be negative. This might spell economic disaster at a sustained level.
Lomborg makes the case that innovation is key. His perspective seems to be more on university led research supported by governments. There is a role for government to fun basic research and many have for decades.
Entrepreneurs have been advancing humankind for hundreds of years. With proper market signals, we can expect a new generation to rise to the occasion addressing the energy transition and ultimately climate change.
The author is aware of a number of ‘Green’ efforts underway to encourage the development of new commercial technologies. While not advocating for investment in an Incubator or Accelerator, it seems reasonable that start-up organizations addressing these challenges be encouraged.
What Role Does Innovation Play in Your Firm’s Approach to Climate Change?.
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Please note, RRI does not endorse or advocate the links to any third-party materials herein. They are provided for education and entertainment only.
The author’s credentials in this field are available on his LinkedIn page.
Disclaimer, the author has no personal or business relationship with Bjorn Lomborg or his publications other than reading and commenting on his latest book, False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.
For those start-up firms addressing energy challenges, the author is a member of Global Energy Mentors which provide no-cost mentoring services from energy experts. If interested, check it out and give us a shout.