Here’s Something: Use tech to save the world, win $1B

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It seems any discussion of climate change is accompanied by much doom and gloom.

Liberals and socialists in our government use fear of climate change to convince us our capitalism-based economy will wreck the world in 12 years if we ignore the greenhouse gases building up in the atmosphere.

Conservatives, skeptical of what’s causing temperatures to rise, see through the fear-mongering, but don’t have an answer. They know America’s natural-gas boom and emissions reduction efforts have reduced the nation’s carbon output, but throw their hands up in defeat, arguing any additional efforts won’t matter if China and India continue to spew poisons into the air.

Observe the 2020 Democrat Presidential candidates and you’ll hear nothing but fear and negativity regarding climate change. A skeptical public concludes that these politicians and their supporters only want to manipulate our votes so they can achieve power. These Democrats posit unrealistic solutions such as killing all cows, banning air travel and gas-powered engines, and replacing every building in the country with a more energy-efficient one.

Are they insane? Yes. Will a negative approach work? No.

A more rational and hopeful approach this Earth Day, April 22, is to avoid the political blame game and set about solving the matter using the same thing that has allegedly gotten us in this predicament: technology.

It’s time to take a page from the late, great President John F. Kennedy’s playbook. In 1961, Kennedy famously dared scientists and tech-geeks from NASA to land a man on the moon by the end of the decade. They did, and this year marks the glorious 50th anniversary of the moon shot by Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin.

President Trump should issue a similar challenge to the scientific community regarding climate change, perhaps with a monetary award to the group or individual that finally figures out how to reduce carbon dioxide levels.

It would be a welcome departure from how we are fighting climate change now. Politicians, especially Democrats, are trying to solve the issue by telling us what we can’t do: We can’t fly planes, enjoy cow’s milk or take a drive in the country. But Republicans, always the more hopeful of the two political parties, should avoid this defeatist approach. Republicans should rally the nation’s tech community to focus on carbon capture and storage. We should employ human ingenuity to solve a problem caused by human ingenuity.

President Donald Trump would be the perfect president to issue such a challenge, with perhaps a $1 billion award to the winner who makes a machine that efficiently sucks greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. The United Nations and Democrats say we’re all doomed by 2030 due to climate change, so let’s do another Kennedy-esque 10-year pledge, just before we all die. Call it the “Eleventh-Hour Save the World Challenge.” It could be a big deal.

The tech community already has a head start. Big companies including Shell, Chevron, NRG Energy and startups such as Global Thermostat, CO2 Solutions, Carbon Engineering and Climeworks are working hard on carbon dioxide reduction technologies, including carbon capture and storage strategies.

Humans are more than capable, especially if given a financial incentive, to use technology to figure out environmental problems. We’ve put scrubbers on smokestacks to curtail acid rain. We’ve used dikes and polders to create dry land amid Holland’s encroaching seas. We’ve devised drip irrigation systems to make the Israeli desert bloom.

If we can do these things, we can surely create technologies to solve climate change.

John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, lives in Windham.

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