At the GoingGreen Conference in the Presidio of San Francisco, Ray Rothrock of Venrock expounded upon the great capacity that the US has to combat climate change, if it only can utilize its intellectual resources.
The Palo Alto-based venture capital arm of the Rockefeller Family has invested in the categories of technology, healthcare, media and energy for decades, and Rothrock, Venrock partner and former nuclear engineer is one of their strategic investors.
During his keynote address Thursday afternoon, he explained that climate change is not only an issue of environmental and economic security, but one of national security also. If rapidly developing countries max out their energy resources, they are more likely to become aggressive towards those who have a surplus.
The US has been faced with a call to make big changes before. During the sixties, the country was challenged to put a man on the moon, for Rothrock’s example. The government was provoked by Sputnik and the Red Scare, and called to arms by JFK’s leadership. Technology responded with developments in rocket science, communications, and chemistry. These developments were implemented by the industrial strength of Boeing and Grumman, and supported by the enthusiasm of the public.
These four elements are essential to huge undertakings - government, technology, industry and the public. At present, we have efforts by the government - President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu, members of Congress and some states are pushing for big policy changes to combat environmental disaster. Solar and wind companies as well as hybrid vehicle manufacturers are providing industrial support. HPC, nano and biology, and fission are being developed to assuage different resource issues. As for inspiring the public, high profile individuals such as Al Gore, Richard Branson, and Bill Gates have done much to educate the masses, but have failed to gain their full support.
Rothrock knows that these elements can combine to accomplish a task as significant as putting a man on the moon. But time is limited, and we must educate and invest in efficiency technology.