California sues automakers / Gore at NYU / Branson pledges $3 billion

by Franke James

Greenhouse gases from vehicles damage climate, says Schwarzenegger administration

This article got my attention. California has launched a lawsuit against 6 auto manufacturers for damage to the climate. “Global warming is causing significant harm to California’s environment, economy, agriculture and public health. The impacts are already costing millions of dollars, and the price tag is increasing,” Attorney-General Bill Lockyer said after filing the suit. The article quotes an auto rep who dismisses it as a ‘nuisance’ suit for political gain — but it could be the harbinger of things to come… Look at how the tobacco industry has been brought to its knees.

Al Gore gives policy address at NYU on solving the climate crisis

It’s been a busy week. Al Gore delivered a powerful speech at New York University School of Law. It’s a must-read for anyone following the global warming trend. This excerpt from Gore’s speech outlines a doable strategy for slaying a monster problem:

“Third, a responsible approach to solutions would avoid the mistake of trying to find a single magic “silver bullet??? and recognize that the answer will involve what Bill McKibben has called “silver-buckshot??? – numerous important solutions, all of which are hard, but no one of which is by itself the full answer for our problem.”

Gore goes on to talk about the tremendous opportunity in the global warming crisis:

“This is not a political issue. This is a moral issue. It affects the survival of human civilization. It is not a question of left vs. right; it is a question of right vs. wrong. Put simply, it is wrong to destroy the habitability of our planet and ruin the prospects of every generation that follows ours. What is motivating millions of Americans to think differently about solutions to the climate crisis is the growing realization that this challenge is bringing us unprecedented opportunity.

“I have spoken before about the way the Chinese express the concept of crisis. They use two symbols, the first of which – by itself – means danger. The second, in isolation, means opportunity. Put them together, and you get “crisis.??? Our single word conveys the danger but doesn’t always communicate the presence of opportunity in every crisis.

“In this case, the opportunity presented by the climate crisis is not only the opportunity for new and better jobs, new technologies, new opportunities for profit, and a higher quality of life. It gives us an opportunity to experience something that few generations ever have the privilege of knowing: a common moral purpose compelling enough to lift us above our limitations and motivate us to set aside some of the bickering to which we as human beings are naturally vulnerable.

“America’s so-called “greatest generation??? found such a purpose when they confronted the crisis of global fascism and won a war in Europe and in the Pacific simultaneously. In the process of achieving their historic victory, they found that they had gained new moral authority and a new capacity for vision.”

Branson jumps on global warming bandwagon

British billionaire Richard Branson, known as much for his wild publicity stunts as his sprawling business empire, pledged in New York on Sept.21st to invest as much as $3 billion over ten years to fight global warming and develop environmentally-friendly fuels. (Tip for Branson’s kids: work hard and don’t expect a free lunch.)

Former President Bill Clinton was at his side for the Clinton Global Initiative conference (see Clinton’s shopping list). Branson’s promise is to direct all of the profits from Virgin airlines and his train company towards developing environmentally-friendly fuels under a new company, Virgin Fuels.

“We have to wean ourselves off our dependence on coal and fossil fuels,” he said at a news conference. “Our generation has the knowledge, it has the financial resources and as importantly it has the will power to do so… I really do believe the world is facing a catastrophe and there are scientists who say we are already too late, but I don’t believe that is the case.”

Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist invested in ethanol development, predicted at the Clinton summit that eventually alternative fuels will replace gasoline.

“This is not a small market for blending ethanol into gasoline,” he said. “It is a market that will completely replace, or can completely replace gasoline over the next 25 years.”

I think Gore, Branson, Khosla and Lockyer would all be voting ‘Yes’ to our poll question, “Will green technology be the leading industry of the 21st century?” Now if you haven’t taken our poll, please do.

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