In part inspired by this book, and his sci-fi interest in studying astrobiology when he gets older, he tends to view the future as exciting, almost boundless at times. So his comments were about the bounty of yet unknown high-tech solutions.
But hours after this discussion, I was still thinking about how I should talk about the future -- i.e., our environmental situation -- to my kids.
Here are a five reasons why he, and we, could maintain hope:
1. Renewable energy now receives more than 2x the investment capital as fossil fuels and nuclear.
To hammer this point home, let's note that Bloomberg projects that $10 trillion will be invested in wind, solar, and batteries by 2050. In addition, Bloomberg expects that 55-75% of new power capacity investment in the next 30 years will be in solar and wind.
The energy mix is transitioning quickly.
2. Air quality in the U.S. is far better today than 40 years ago.
The U.S. Environmental Protection notes the following reduction in air pollution since 1980.
Sulfur Dioxide - 91%
Carbon monoxide - 83%
Nitrogen dioxides - 61%
Ozone - 31%
In addition, particulate matter in the air has decreased 34% since 1980.
3. We're making progress on the "energy access" problem.
For decades, there were 1.2+ billion people that lacked access to reliable and affordable energy. Today that number is perhaps "just" 0.85 billion people. So, call it a 33% reduction, plus or minus. Progress for sure, but a ways to go still. Luckily, more than $700 million of investment has gone into a group of off-grid solar companies helping to solve this challenge.
4. There are numerous wildlife success stories of comeback.
The Atlantic humpback whale has recovered to 93% of its pre-exploitation numbers. That is, its population went from about 27,000 in 1830 to roughly 440 in the mid-1950s. Ouch! But it's a sign of hope for other species.
Similarly, the population of California Condors -- with a giant wingspan of 9.5 feet, taller than your ceiling perhaps -- was at just 22 birds in the 1980's, but the 1,000th bird was just hatched and released into the public last year.
5. The world's biggest investors see climate change and environmental sustainability as key predictors of solid financial returns.
BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager ($7 trillion), has made sustainability and climate change part of the core tenets of their investment strategy going forward -- “As a fiduciary, our responsibility is to help clients navigate this transition. Our investment conviction is that sustainability- and climate-integrated portfolios can provide better risk-adjusted returns to investors. And with the impact of sustainability on investment returns increasing, we believe that sustainable investing is the strongest foundation for client portfolios going forward."
Before we all go drinking to celebrate these wins, I'll state the obvious: I could easily write another blog that tells the opposite story.
So for us Entrepreneurs for Impact, there's still a lot of work to do, businesses to create, and lives to change.