Larta Institute launched its first podcast series today, Ideas, energized. The series is aimed to share Rohit Shukla’s unique perspective on issues that either affect or encourage innovation, such as Climate Change, the mistrust of science, and the challenges entrepreneurs of such innovations face in today’s market. The series will also have a focus on entrepreneurs journeys through case-studies of the entrepreneurs we have worked with at Larta Institute.
The first episode, With Climate Change, the Innovation Genie is Out of the Bottle, guides us through the recent history of climate change with a focus on California’s emissions efforts, and the solutions brought forth by federally funded American innovation. Overall, “the genie is out of the bottle” and the strong partnership being formed by industry highlights positive economic drivers for cleantech solutions. The issue, he says, is not discerning of geography. The responsibility and opportunity for reducing emissions and presenting solutions is upon the global community. Our risk, in the U.S., is only to be left behind.
Hello, I’m Rohit Shukla, and this is Larta Institute’s podcast series, Ideas, energized.
So, it seems that the U.S. has stepped back in reducing its involvement in the world movement toward reducing greenhouse gases, reaching a target of emissions controls, abandoning the dialogue that the Paris Climate Accords was supposed to engender. But let’s consider this: in many ways over the last 30 years, the movement toward cleaning the air, cleaning the water, controlling emissions, improving the environment has been an ongoing issue for states, regions, localities, countries around the world. The genie is out of the bottle. The commitment and desire to clean up the air, to focus on the sources of emissions and the overall reduction of greenhouse gases has reached a point of consensus across the world.
Even countries like China and India that have been on a rapid pace of development for the last 20 years or more have seen fit to start to engage actively in the reduction of emissions and the cleaning up of the air, in the controlling of greenhouse gases, and a variety of other things to improve the health of their working-age populations. This builds on a record of success that we’ve had here in the U.S. In Los Angeles, for example, the air is cleaner today than it was 30 years ago. There’s less evidence of lung conditions, particularly among children, for example, and there have been no stage one alerts for some 30 years due to aggressive action that the state took toward controlling emissions towards imposing fuel standards, towards promoting the use of unleaded fuel, towards the creation of the catalytic converter for cars. These have all resulted in marked evidence of a reduction in emissions.
The issue has now become one of contention because of the fact that there’s been an ideological battle being waged by certain sections in the country against the effects of man-made activity on the environment. Regardless of that ideological disposition, however, the consensus seems to be holding across the world, which is why there has been increasing dialogue toward the maintenance and the development of standards across different places in the world.
California, which has been able, as I’ve said, to establish its own set of rules, its own stringent standards, has received federal waivers in fuel standards for cars, has done more than any other state in fostering an environment of innovation around environmental technologies and emissions. It is now at the leading edge of this consensus and at the leading edge of collaboration between countries, including California and China, which has become the hallmark of the pullback from the Paris Climate Accords.
California has now been joined increasingly in this rather divisive political climate by a number of other states that have also seen the importance, both in the perspective of public policy and public health, but also the perspective of engaging innovations around the world in order to be able to add a sense of heft to their own strong economies and to their own desire to build new kinds of jobs and new kinds of companies that would explore and exploit the opportunities available in this new environment.
One key issue that needs to be understood by innovators working in this space is that the lack of leadership, this confusion that we see at the federal level, is actually a blessing in disguise. Because of the increasing interest in climate change around the world, and the impacts mitigating toward the fallout from climate change, you’re seeing many more sources of partnership and funding and interest around the globe. These ranges I suggested from state governments, of the kind that we’ve been talking about, for example, California that will increasingly engage with young innovative companies to create new products and services that will actually be used if not mandated in local commerce. But also, other kinds of funding and partnerships. Philanthropists increasingly concerned about the legacy we leave for our kids. Foundations that are considered that are both interested in public health and solutions to the huge problem of bad health and bad effects of emissions and of greenhouse gases.
So, in addition to appealing to diverse constituencies of the kind I just mentioned—philanthropists, individual companies, state governments, foundations, entrepreneurs—need to start advocating in their own behalf. Use the blogs that they need to set up anyway, or join, as the case may be, to put forth their ideas, and their solutions, and their innovations, and their opinions even—yes, even their opinions—that are based on the science they are observing or researching or studying.
They need to do more than apply to federal grants, that seemingly until this point have been the only real source of support. They need to communicate with communities that they are part of, whether those communities are undergoing current experiments in fracking—which by the way, has led to fractured communities because of the impacts of fracking on the environment locally. They need to basically start to thread the needle. To make sure that every little advance that they’ve made in the science that they’re studying is communicated effectively, so that it becomes part of the picture that they’re painting, part of the solution set they’re representing, and part of an innovative strategy that is important in the time—in this time—the time that we need to be able to celebrate human ingenuity in response to human-created problems that are now confronting us around the globe.
This is not just a U.S. problem, obviously we know that. This is a global problem. And so as a company engaged in any of the sciences associated with climate and weather and climate science in general, you need to see yourself as a global player. Because the air does not stop in Florida. Clouds do not cease to exist outside the borders of California. Climate does not respect national boundaries and neither should you.
Larta Institute is a Los Angeles-based business accelerator that gives scientists and entrepreneurs the tools they need to feed, fuel, and heal the world.