Committee for green technology (28/52 – Terraism)

Illustration by Susanne Gold/ text by Ted Ganten
In this clip you will get more information on “Terraism”. Download the full book.

In our terraistic association, under the umbrella of the mission “Planet Preservation” we would also need an committee to adress challenges of green technology.

Why does green technology need backwinds?

While many new technologies have environmental benefits, they can be dangerous for established industries or do not currently have a business case that really inspires private investors. We see the same phenomena in the health sector. Here, for example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is therefore promoting ideas and companies worldwide that have the potential to advance humanity in major health challenges. This is then independent of the short-term business case and of detrimental effects on existing commercial business. In the pharmaceutical sector, developments are often so expensive that profit-oriented companies focus on financially strong customers rather than on the benefits for mankind. For example, new forms of therapy are constantly being developed for diseases such as obesity and diabetes, but the fight against epidemics in Africa is not being pursued. This is due to a lack of financing power in Africa. However, even if such developments are not a good business case to begin with mid- to long-term there could be great benefits and profits based on them. Like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, a terraistic association could promote new companies and technologies that have the potential to serve planet conservation, regardless of the short-term business case. If this is done skillfully and with the support of global corporations, a self-financing approach is thinkable. This may turn into a business case if we do not think in the short term, but beyond the five-year horizon.

Why do backwinds eventually pay off?

Often the added value lies in the long term or in combing different ideas with a purpose. Greenpeace has created a major showcase. As an organization with donations of about 300 million Euros, Greenpeace has already shown in 1996 that it is possible to build a three-liter car. Unfortunately, the statutes or self-image did not seem to allow Greenpeace to build this car and use the proceeds to develop further environmentally friendly technologies. But exactly this seems to me to be the right way. Profits would benefit the charitable cause of Terraism. That would generate real added value in the sense of the common good economy. Another advantage of the approach would be that companies would also be integrated as members. They could support the realization financially, provide machines and infrastructure or accompany it with know-how. Their own interest would be supported if, in return, the member companies that are helpful in the development would be granted a non-exclusive right, free of charge for a certain period of time, to commercially exploit further developments based on the technology in their field of business. I am currently not aware of any comparable non-profit, financially strong consortium with the goal of planetary conservation.

Publicity creates backwinds for competing ideas?

The terraistic association has an interest in ensuring that environmentally friendly technologies are used as much as possible and by as many as possible. However, there may be situations in which profit-oriented companies develop or buy up ideas which, although they should be realized as quickly as possible from a terraistic perspective, are too early for a company for strategic reasons, or even endanger the current business model. I could imagine that an oil company would have little interest in a brilliant idea for the use of hydrogen in automobiles being made public or implemented, immediately. Even if it were a great business case, oil companies would often not even be able to implement the idea. Moreover, it would attack their core business so radically that it would be psychologically difficult to pursue. They would have to be prepared to cannibalize themselves. In most cases, such ideas would be kept secret or, to the extent that they are protected by industrial property rights, this could prevent or hinder the immersion of the technology. Therefore, it seems to me to be beneficial to buy up or license in patents and technologies that serve environmental protection. Rights of use of these industrial property rights could be offered to all members at advantageous conditions and to the rest of the world at market conditions. This approach again has the potential to eventually become self-financing if not profitable. One would then use the license income to buy new ideas, rights and technologies. In the mid-term, this would at least reduce the probability that existing industries would sit on intellectual property rights and thus deliberately curb environmentally friendly technologies and inventions in the market.

Even if this were not a lucrative initiative, the transparency provided by systematic market research alone would be a real added value. On the one hand, the right companies could be made aware of interesting topics, and on the other hand, there is the possibility of building up pressure through publicity. Often the right ideas are just missing the stage or are in need to be combined. Organizing trade fairs and creating publicity would be a further, important contribution to the preservation of the planet.

Next week we will take a look into an fascinating legal vehicle for self-control of industry sectors: Collective Actions. Be curious …

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