Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt has been talking a lot lately about green energy. OK, so everybody has been talking a lot lately about green energy. But for Schmidt it is especially a good thing to talk about.
Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt has been talking a lot lately about green energy.
OK, so everybody has been talking a lot lately about green energy. But for Schmidt it is especially a good thing to talk about. Sure, it will help meet Google’s goal of world domination. You want to run the world? You’ve got to run the power grid.
But seriously, Schmidt is onto a smart sort of power grab.
In a speech last month, Schmidt spoke at length about taming global warming. He made a business case for alternative fuel. (You can see his entire presentation on YouTube, which is owned by, hey, Google.)
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“It’s cheaper to fix global warming than to ignore it,” Schmidt told the crowd. “It’s actually cheaper to fix it.”
Yeah, Schmidt is a numbers guy, and he ran the numbers. The cost of building a solar-, wind-, etc.-power systems that will halt global warming? About $4.5 trillion over 22 years.
“So you’re saying, ‘This guy must be absolutely mad,’ ” Schmidt said, saying exactly what everybody in the room was saying. “That’s a separate discussion.”
The mathematical method in Schmidt’s madness? The system, he said, would save $5.5 trillion over the same 22 years because electricity would be cheaper, cars would be more efficient and there would be no need to build traditional and expensive power plants.
“You spend money and you make money,” Schmidt said. “That’s what I do.”
Which, looking at the rise of Google, is hard to argue with.
Not to mention that Google consumes an enormous amount of electricity, running the servers that store all the world’s known knowledge. So what’s good for green is good for Google.
The catch — and there’s always a catch: It turns out Google’s stock price doesn’t travel in just one direction. The stock has been beaten down with the rest of the market.
The New York Times writes that shareholders might not be so happy about their golden search-and-advertising company getting distracted with all this green-tech stuff.
That’s exactly the wrong reaction.
Google, with its Google.org arm and its green initiatives, is doing exactly what successful Silicon Valley companies should do — lead.
Corporations that make buckets of money and enrich their principles and investors beyond anyone’s wildest dreams have a responsibility to use their brilliance, aggressiveness and arrogance to make the world a better place.
Radical and world-changing ideas look to be in short supply in the future as basic research and government investment in new ideas shrivel up. It’s vital that companies that have the brainpower and the money to conceive change also create change.
In that regard, we should all be saying: “Go Google. Go Green.”
Mike Cassidy is a technology columnist at the San Jose