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Al Gore and Green Collaboration

Green collaboration covers a wide spectrum. In April 2008, the California firm of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) and Generation Investment Management announced a collaboration to find, fund, and accelerate green business, technology, and policy. The firm also announced that Nobel Prize winner and former Vice President Al Gore had joined KPCB as a partner. KPCB will co-locate their European operations at Generation’s offices in London.

Gore stated that the alliance would bring together world-class business talent to focus on solving the climate crisis. He emphasized that, together, KPCB and Generation have a working understanding of this urgent, multidimensional challenge and are resolved to help business and government leaders accelerate the development of sustainable solutions. The collaborating groups said the alliance represents “a landmark alignment of resources to effect global change to protect the environment. It combines the research expertise of both organizations with a track record of successful investments in public and private companies, from early stage to large capitalization business. It aligns the convening power of Mr. Gore, the KPCB Greentech Innovation Network, and the Generation Advisory Board toward a common goal. In addition, KPCB’s presence in Asia and the United States, combined with Generation’s presence in the United States, Europe, and Australia, will support global-scale solutions.”

Gore also announced that as part of the agreement between the two firms, 100 percent of his salary as a partner at KPCB will be donated directly to the Alliance for Climate Protection—the nonpartisan foundation he chairs that focuses on accelerating policy solutions to the climate crisis. So, collaboration in the green space, including green IT, will continue to be far-reaching.

Al Gore’s July 2008 Bold Plan to Save the Planet

In July 2008, Al Gore announced an initiative to save the planet. The plan was so bold that the July 18, 2008 issue of Time magazine ran an article titled “Gore’s Bold, Unrealistic Plan to Save the Planet.” Gore challenged America to generate 100 percent of our electricity from sources that do not lead to global warming—and to do it within ten years.

Speaking in Washington on July 17, 2008, Gore called on Americans to completely abandon electricity generated by fossil fuels within ten years and replace them with carbon-free renewables like solar, wind, and geothermal. It is a bold plan, almost to the point of folly. But at the very least, it’s one that certainly matches the scale of his rhetoric. “The survival of the United States of America as we know it is at risk,” he said. “The future of human civilization is at stake.” Gore ended his speech on his plan with a rousing reminder of President John F. Kennedy’s challenge to put a man on the moon—a challenge that was met, Gore noted, in less than a decade. He stated, “We must now lift our nation to reach another goal that will change history.”

Gore’s vision of a completely decarbonized electrical supply within ten years makes discussions toward green computing seem like a piece of cake. However, Gore’s bold plan fits very well with the topic of this chapter: We must all collaborate on green IT, and much more collaboration is required to solve the issues of climate change and global greenhouse gas emissions. Gore’s emphasis on problems of national security, foreign oil dependency, and high energy prices should get a majority of Americans to support going green.

Although the Kennedy challenge for getting a man on the moon within ten years is an interesting comparison, the climate challenge will be quite different. The difference is largely in the global collaboration required. The moon shot called for focused scientific resources for a single target. Outside Houston and Cape Canaveral, most of us just watched. But decarbonizing our energy supply will require innovation, funding, and sacrifice at every level of society. It will be long and arduous, and even if it works, we won’t be rewarded with stirring film of a man on the moon. Nevertheless, we in information technology have an opportunity to almost immediately contribute—to collaborate—in the global effort of going green.

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