Global warming: Economic opportunity or not?

September 11, 2009

Stephan Dolezalek, Managing Director of VantagePoint Venture Partners and Tom Werner, Chief Executive of solar power company SunPower, sat down at Reuters’ Global Climate and Alternative Energy Summit in San Francisco and shared their views on global warming, investment and cleantech.

Dolezalek sees industrialization in developing countries as a more predictable impetus for investment than global warming.

Werner sees global warming as a stimulus for new business and a tool for adaptation.

What are your thoughts?  Is global warming an economic stimulus, an unreliable driver for investment, neither or both?

(Editing/video by Courtney Hoffman, pictures by Kim White)


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If these business were profitable, wouldn’t someone already be doing it?

Any business that has to have a subsidy to make a profit is not a business, it is a charity.

I also find it troubling that people seem to be saying two oppossing things. They want to increase taxes to cover the cost of global warming, but at the same time they want to do things that will slow the economy.

How do people pay higher taxes in a slower economy?

Posted by Heather | Report as abusive

First of all, there’s no such thing as global warming. It’s simply a small anomaly in the earth’s temperature change that happens every several million years. To think man had anything to do with it, or can do anything to change it, is completely absurd at best. Future civilizations are going to look back at this and wonder how we could have been so stupid, just as we did when we discovered that the ancient Romans chewed on lead nuggets as a way to pass the time.

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

While I believe that technologies on renewable energy sources should be developed and established to mitigate the impact of climate change and lessen pollution globally, I don’t believe that a piecemeal implementation of these initiatives will provide sufficient stimulus to the economy. Half measures and sporadic activities will have little immediate effect, if the object is to jolt the economy out of recession. I believe the impact of these activities will be for the longer term – in terms of cleaner environment and energy independence for nations who will implement these initiatives.

Posted by Emmanuel Gonot | Report as abusive

Agreed with the writer GW, which is happening, is not man made. The 400K yr ice core data show a repeating natural 100K yr temp cycle, which in total is gut wrenching to earth. We now know the probable cause of this 100K yr temp cycle is a 100K yr cycle to the sun’s magnetic field, stronger fields = more solar radiation, hence warming and cooling cycles on earth. That said, GW is a big economic opportunity as it crystallizes energy efficiency opportunities and ways to reduce our carbon footprint, which is very necessary. IRR would be a good way to measure performance on the ideas employed to reduce carbon footprint.

Posted by Lloyd Weaver | Report as abusive

Any centralised economic stimulus that can be provided for the widespread expansion of energy efficiency technologies and sustainable energy production should be encouraged (after all many other industrial and financial sectors, since the onset of the current global recession have been supported in this way, which would otherwise have gone to the wall). The previous commentators denying that global warming is man made or even real at all makes me think of the huge numbers of supposedly learned people/philosophers/theologians who have, over the centuries, believed that the Earth is flat and not spherical. Furthermore anyone who underpins their arguments that the warming seen on this planet is purely from natural cycles over geological time-scales unwittingly shows themselves to have little understanding of the climate observations from the modern industrialised era. No one disbelieves that the climate has, over geological time, changed by vast extremes but the warming seen today is NOT on a geological time-scale and hence is an extremely real and current threat.

Posted by Simon Harlock, UK | Report as abusive