The Race of our Lives

How the private sector can help us win

The following is a speech I delivered this week to all employees at an innovative company called GridPoint. The company provides businesses the knowledge and tools to optimize their energy usage through a subscription service, with the goal of lowering both their emissions and costs. 

(Disclosure: I’m an investor in GridPoint). 

Good afternoon. I’m Mark Tercek, and I’m here today to talk about the fact that we are all in the race of our lives. 

We face a true climate emergency. Human behavior has already locked in devastating impacts from climate change. This human-made problem could have been avoided, but it’s too late now to prevent much of the damage. Much more importantly, looking ahead, unless we start making much better progress right away, we’re heading to truly catastrophic outcomes. That’s the race we’re in. It’s up to all of us whether we remain on this collision course or whether we swiftly change direction and start accelerating progress.  

As a career businessperson-turned environmentalist, I appreciate and admire the work all of you at GridPoint do every single day. I know your work is not easy, but I hope you all realize you’re doing two big and important things at once. 

First, you’re improving business outcomes for clients by lowering their energy bills. 

And second, you’re devising environmental solutions that reduce your clients’ greenhouse gas emissions too. 

That’s what you do every day. And you know what? You’re demonstrating what is likely the best way available to accelerate climate progress. 

And accelerate we must. 

You know it’s bad when George Soros tells us how worried he is about this challenge. Soros is one of the greatest investors of all time. He’s not exactly known for being alarmist. He is a tough and accomplished person. He survived the Nazi occupation of his native Hungary and went on to achieve one of the most spectacular investment records ever in the hedge fund business. His life’s work is to dispassionately face facts and analyze them; consider key factors in science, politics and other domains; and make forecasts on which he stakes huge investment bets. 

“Our civilization is in danger of collapsing because of the inexorable advance of climate change. The climate system is broken, and it needs to be repaired.”

Again, I’ll repeat this for emphasis. His forecast is bleak. “Our civilization is in danger of collapsing,” he says.

Nobody wants to hear that. So what do we do? Clearly we need to do everything we can to address this challenge. 

But what exactly does that mean?