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Thursday, February 23, 2012

HOW TO START A BILLION DOLLAR PROJECT

In times of desperation, government can do  amazing things, as for example, the Manhattan Project (to beat Hitler to the Atomic Bomb) and Apollo to the Moon (to catch up with the Soviet Union during the Cold War).  Today, short of an imminent attack from outer space aliens, there is nothing on the horizon compelling enough to evoke total world cooperation to accomplish magnificent objectives.  Global Warming, for example, will not be taken seriously enough for any kind of major united effort because the sea level is rising too slowly and hundreds of millions just won't perish one hot summer.  

It's bad enough that they are all broken in their own ways anyway, but scratch any federal government from taking a leadership role to save Planet Earth or inspire Humanitarian enterprises.  Local governments are hopeless and industry deals mostly with profits in the shorter term.


As recognized in Abundance by Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, this only leaves philanthropic options for grand opportunities.  Understandably, the very rich tend to mostly take on charitable or health challenges of the needy, as the guilt complex is real.  The morality of feeding and extending the lifetime of the abject is in itself  debatable, for a few have philosophized on the true value of prolonging subsistence level existence.

So are there, then, more meaningful and glorious aspirations?  Population control is fraught with moral dilemmas.  Environmental and specie protection causes are already overly subscribed.  Paul Allen made an attempt in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.
Somewhat along the same theme is the imaginative vision of the Thirty Metre Telescope, expected to cost somewhere in the vicinity of a billion dollars.  Simply enough, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation committed $200 million, and things began to move.  What will be observed?  Well, maybe some clues will be gleaned regarding dark matter/energy, perhaps more exosolar planets could be detected, or science will "see" closer to the edge of the Universe.  That's it?  Well, this is at least somewhat romantic and better than spending $3 trillion on the Middle East wars.

Wouldn't it be more productive to seal your (note:  this is particularly for billionaires) legacy with an international effort to develop clean energy, sustainable food crops, green chemicals, hydrogen, next generation fisheries, marine biomass plantations and exciting new futuristic habitats, while remediating global warming and preventing the formation of hurricanes, all in the same transcendent adventure?  Now that it has been largely determined that space is passe (no sense wasting any more money until China makes a threatening move), and the $150 billion International Space Station an official white elephant, the time has come for the International Pacific Ocean Station, the initial stage launching the Blue Revolution at sea.  The rendering above is Shimizu's Green Float environmental island.

Barron's has a list of 25 best philanthropists. Interestingly enough, #1 are Pierre and Pam Omidyar (left) and #7 are Bill and Melinda Gates.    You can further scan the list of Forbes' Billionaires (Mexico's Carlos Slim Helu is #1, by a wide margin, while Paul Allen is #56 and Gordon Moore is #268) and more immediately in the Pacific,  Japan's (#1 is Masayoshi Son) and South Korea's (#1 is Lee Kun-Hee) Top Ten Billionaires, China's 400 Richest (#1 is Liang Wengen, and there are 135 billionaires), and Hawaii's Richest People (#1 is Pierre Omidyar, who is #145 on that Forbes list).  Of course, it is all in who you know and how you can make your dream theirs.

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The Dow Jones Industrials rose 46 to 12,985, with world markets also mostly up.  Gold increased $3/toz to $1778, while oil is creeping up, with the WTI Cushing at $107/barrel and the Brent Spot at $126/barrel.

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