There’s a great piece in the Financial Times today about the need to tackle climate change with a concerted, global research and development effort that comes up with clean energy that is cheaper than fossil fuel energy. Sadly, the article is behind a paywall, because it deserves to be read. The authors, David King (former Chief Scientific Advisor) and Richard Layard (economist and founder of the LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance), make a compelling case that as climate change is the biggest problem facing mankind, we should focus our best and brightest minds on coming up with a solution.
One of the saddest things that has happened over the last twenty years is that those ‘best and brightest’ have tended to go into finance, because that’s where the money is. It was brought home to me at a party about 12 months ago where I met a late-20’s engineer who was giving up a promising career in medical device engineering to become a banker. I have nothing against banking per se, but it isn’t going to solve the world’s problems (although it has a reasonable recent track record in creating them).
Layard and King eloquently argue that just as JFK inspired a generation by kicking off the Apolllo Space Programme, we need the US and China to galvanise the next generation. Many of the people who could take part in such a programme might still be at school or university and we need to win hearts and minds, to inspire the next generation to choose to solve real problems over synthetic derivatives.