Recent concerns about global warming have encouraged both government and private entities to pursue the development of clean technologies and renewable energy sources. However, considerable obstacles exist to getting green technology into the marketplace.
California Attorney General Jerry Brown touched upon some of the roadblocks in his keynote address at the Clean Technology Roundtable that was held on June 30 at Santa Monica College’s Broad Stage. Brown stated, “At a time when we’re trying to fix up balance sheets and straighten out bankrupt governments … the idea that money should be made available for new ideas for the kinds of inventions, experiments and breakthroughs that we need is a very hard idea to get through.” He also pointed out “A lot of powerful people do not take climate change seriously and there are some scientists that disagree too.” However, the vast majority consider global warming a significant threat.
The problem according to Brown is that the threat is down the road but steps to deal with it need to be taken now. Governments find it hard to commit to something that is not immediate. Another challenge is that our nation is not generating the skilled intellectual talent needed for energy engineering or efficiency engineering. He concluded his remarks by observing, “America is at a crossroads. We’re at a shaky point in our history and one of the keys is the investment in energy, technology, and getting more efficient, more competitive and more sustainable.”
Two panels were also part of the roundtable. The first one focused on business issues facing clean technology industries. The second panel which was moderated by Santa Monica City Council member Bobby Shriver concentrated on stimulus funding and other government support for clean technology.
During the panel discussion Shriver mentioned two ways Santa Monica would be utilizing stimulus money for clean technology. The first was to build a POP (dark fiber) center in Downtown Santa Monica to decrease the cost of the City’s Information Technology (IT) and Public Wi-Fi networks. Shriver noted that high data demand by the many postproduction companies in Santa Monica could cost them more money that real estate costs. Therefore, this City center will also be an “inducement to companies with heavy IT demand to locate here.” It will also decrease traffic by having less messengers bringing materials to movie and T.V. studios in the San Fernando Valley because now that information can be sent electronically.
Another project the stimulus money will be used for is a million gallon storage facility that will be built under a park for rainwater so it can be used for irrigation and toilet flushing. They are also encouraging developers to plug into this facility.
More than 30 elected officials and business professionals participated in the roundtable. Among them were California’s State Controller, John Chiang and California State Treasurer, Bill Lockyer.