Monday, April 29, 2013

Supervising the Winding Down - A Bold Proposal for the Remediation of Carbon Pollution

The polar icecaps are melting.

Levels of fossilized carbon trapped in the atmosphere are rising.

Is this consequence, or happenstance?

The safer answer is to pick consequence, and accept the theory of Global Warming that holds that carbon pollution is driving climate change, with devastating consequences possibly for us, but certainly for our children and our children's children.

If we believe in Global Warming, take corrective action to reverse carbon pollution, and it turns out we were wrong, we will have gyrated through changing choices that we did not have to make. If, on the other hand, it turns out we were right, we will survive, and our children can prosper.

The path to reversing carbon pollution lies through a rebalancing of our global energy mix, to drastically reduce, or even eliminate, our combustion of fossilized carbons for motor fuel and power generation. This means winding down at least two, and maybe all three, of the bedrock industries on which our economy is currently built: coal, oil and natural gas. (Gas may be the wildcard in this, if as some claim, its contributions to carbon pollution are more manageable.)

This is, I believe, unprecedented in the whole of human history. Not the competitive shift from one bedrock technology to a new and better one. That has happened many times before. But the deliberate choice to wind down our use of one bedrock technology while we search for an alternative that is not better as a price-performer, but is better because it will not kill us all.

Fortunately, we also have the benefit of another evolution that is unprecedented, at least in the history of the Euro-American economy.  That is the evolution of stewardship investing as a new technology for  aggregating savings to form capital for investment. This technology for aggregating savings has not yet evolved its own technology for deploying capital (which is causing its own set of "birthing pains"), but as it does, it will provide the tools we need to manage the winding down of our dependence on fossilized carbon to fuel the engines of our comfort and our prosperity.

We can, using a strategy of "going private, staying private" transfer ownership and control of our fossilized carbon resources over to stewardship investors for the express purpose of overseeing the winding down of those industries as we transition over to more climate-friendly energy choices.

Using the innovative architecture of the equity split, stewardship investors can break out of the corporate model of investment ownership that is designed to keep going, until it crashes.

Instead of reinvesting profits to perpetuate the problems of incumbency with fossilized carbon, stewardship investors can pay out profits to themselves, realizing the returns required to support their portfolio needs, and superintending an orderly winding down of our fossilized carbon industries, as we reconfigure our economy around new, non-fossil energy choices.

It's what engineers call a controlled failure. Much to be preferred over the alternative: catastrophic collapse.

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