The Biggest Bailout Ever

Posted by 11 December, 2008 (2) Comment

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The U.S. and many governments around the world are bailing out their various industries due to poor decisions on the part of these companies. The U.S. has recently bailed out the insurance giant AIG, gave the major U.S. banks billions and is currently investigating whether the government should bail out GM, Ford and Chrysler.

There was a great article in New Scientist recently that discussed economic and population growth and it’s detriment to the environment. The U.S. government can print more money and sell more bonds, but what are we going to do WHEN, not if, we run out of the Earth’s natural resources. An example of a natural resource in high demand is platinum. We don’t have the ability to just make more platinum. Platinum is used as a catalyst in a number of products such as the catalytic converter which is used on every car around the world (well, countries that care about emissions).

We’re going to have a lot of tough choices in the near future in regards to economic growth, birth rates, jobs, and resources. According to the World Wildlife Fund, as of 2005, we need ~1.4 planets to sustain our current need for resources.

Above all, the largest component that needs less of an ecological footprint is energy. Energy, according to late Nobel Prize winner Dr. Richard Smalley, is the number 1 global concern.

“Why is energy always preeminent? When we look at a prioritized list of the top 10 problems, with energy at the top, we can see how energy is the key to solving all of the rest of the problems – from water to population:

  1. Energy
  2. Water
  3. Food
  4. Environment
  5. Poverty
  6. Terrorism and war
  7. Disease
  8. Education
  9. Democracy
  10. Population

Take the second problem on the list, for example: water. Already billions of people around our planet live without reliable access to clean water for drinking and agriculture. As population continues to build and the depletion of aquifers worsens, we will need to find vast new resources of clean water. Luckily, our planet has huge resources of water, but most of it has salt in it, and it is often thousands of miles away from where we need it. We can solve this problem with energy: desalinate the water and pump it vast distances. But without cheap energy, there is no acceptable answer.”

Obviously everyone needs to do their part in order for this to work in helping to “save” the Earth. Fortunately, on the “cheap” energy front, we have some brilliant people diligently working that major effort for us. The venture capital funding for companies has more than quadrupled from 2005 to 2007 according to Techcrunch.

Photo by Notionscapital

External Resources

http://assets.panda.org/downloads/living_planet_report_2008.pdf

http://www.panda.org/news_facts/publications/living_planet_report/footprint/index.cfm

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