My Earth Day 'Insight'

By Bill Moore

Posted: 22 Apr 2010

I walked into the Georgetown University's faculty club meeting room and was greeted with a jovial, "Bill Moore!" I had no idea who this guy was who seemed to think I was his long lost brother. "I am sorry," I said reading this name badge. "Joe Butler. Where do I know that name?"

Then it struck me. "No, you're not that Joe Butler?"

"Yes," the tall gentleman replied with a smile.

Turning to his two companions, I explained that I had sold my 2000 Honda Insight Hybrid (#984) to a Joe Butler in Newfoundland, Canada last December. We had transacted the deal all by electronic mail. We had never met or even spoken before this night.

The event that brought Mr. Butler and I together last Tuesday night was the first of what I hope will be many "Creating Climate Wealth" conferences hosted by the Carbon War Room, an NGO with a different angle on what "going green" means. With seed money from Sir Richard Branson, the entrepreneurial head of the Virgin Group, which includes some 360 business endeavors from Virgin Records to Virgin Mobile to Virgin Airlines, CWR is headed by SunEdison founder Jigar Shah.

The object of the Creating Climate Wealth conference is to find ways to use the forces of the market: capitalism and innovation to turn solving the climate crisis into a wealth and jobs creation endeavor, with minimal government involvement and even less funding.

I am attending the event as a guest of Jigar, while Joe is attending on behalf a new start-up company that has come up with a way to reduce the CO2 emissions of portland cement by up to 40%. His just one of many new and innovative businesses that are participating in the conference, which goes into its second and final full day today.

Day one started with the usual plenary session with Sir Richard Branson leading off as the keynote speaker. This was followed by a moderated panel that included the head Waste Management, a venture capital firm, a representative from Underwriters Lab, and the former president of Costa Rica, the irrepressibly energetic Jose Maria Fuegeres.

We then broke up into six working tracks, but not before another "star" in her own right, Chelsea Sexton, sat down next to me. Like old friends meeting after too long a separation, we hugged and after the plenary session adjourned to one of the conference rooms set aside for the "electric vehicle" track, where a facilitator began the process of helping the 30 or so of us in the session start to brainstorm on the "barriers" to vehicle electrification.

It didn't take long for one of the participants to protest that we shouldn't be talking about barriers, but opportunities; that we should stop apologizing for the shortcomings of the electric vehicle and talk, instead, about their positive attributes. It turns out that that gentleman, whom I hadn't met before was married to someone I had met: the former president of the Sierra Club.

I ran into the Renstroms at last night's gala dinner held in honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day in the Ronald Reagan Building, a spacious, modern office building with tight security and a beautiful ballroom. At first, I didn't make the connection between Mrs. Renstrom and our first meeting until she mentioned that she was the past president of the Sierra Club.

Looking closer at her new business card, I asked if she'd ever been in Omaha, say for a Clean Cities event with the mayor? Yes, she replied.

"I was there too. We used my Honda Insight -- the one I sold to Joe Butler -- as the backdrop for the photo with the mayor. Here's that photo and my accompanying write up from the March 9, 2006 event.

What are the odds that a funny little car would connect people in this way?

Anyway, I am pleased to report that I am capturing much of the plenaries and especially last night's dinner speeches by Richard Branson, former Irish president Mary Robinson, and Earth Day organizer Denis Hayes on video and/or audio, and with Jigar's permission will be posting them here on EV World for your edification, enjoyment and, I am sure, inspiration.

Okay, time to get ready for Day Two.

NOTE: please excuse the errors in this article. I wrote it after only four hours of sleep and in a hurry.

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