Eco-Innovation and Real Costs of Expensive Raw Materials

It is really good to see all the people who care about our environment, and want to cut down on mankind’s CO2 footprint, but I believe that many of them have been fed a bill of goods by academia, and global warming alarmists. You see, CO2 is a trace gas in our atmosphere, there isn’t really all that much of it compared to the other gases. Mankind’s CO2 output is only about 2.6% of all the CO2 in the atmosphere, the other 97+ percent comes from nature.

Nevertheless, we have so many passionate young college students who want to go out and fix the world. They think they can come up with an eco-innovation, start a new company, and get subsidized taxpayer funding and grants, and gifts from the government. Indeed they have hopes of making millions of dollars, but alas the free-market is a little less forgiving for the starry eyed wannabe entrepreneurs.

As the founder of a think tank online, and a retired franchisor founder, I am somewhat irked by this rush of brand-new college students getting out of school, and starting businesses without understanding the reality of return on investment in free markets. Today, they want to cash in on the subsidies, the grants, and the fact that government is increasing regulation on their competitors to give them a free ride.

That can’t last forever, and perhaps you’ve noticed that China has been cutting down on the number of REEs they are allowing to leave their country. REEs are Rare Earth Elements; and included in this list of elements is lithium which is used to make ion-lithium batteries, something that is used in hybrid automobiles, and other alternative energy high-tech devices.

Not long ago, I was talking to the business manager of just such a startup company, who proudly told me about his Harvard MBA, and his buddy who graduated from MIT with an engineering degree, and had been involved in driving a solar car across the Australian Outback. Hey, that’s all well and good, but let’s get real – in other words, let’s come back to the real world here for a second.

The device they’d come up with is a tethered kite-flown donut-shaped wind turbine generator. Its body would be lighter than air, although the entire device “might” be might still work if it were heavier than air, because it would use the wind which is blowing to keep it aloft. Still, it would probably have to be very light and as such have hydrogen or helium inside of it. Hydrogen doesn’t make sense, due to lightning storms, and there is a problem when it comes to helium.

The reality is there is a shortage of helium in the marketplace, and it makes it almost as big of a problem as the rare Earth elements issue. Therefore I asked them; “What are you doing about the challenges of the cost of helium? And if you use hydrogen, what about lightning?” They hadn’t considered this problem, and yet they were going to go ahead with their business plan, and had already collected a grant from the DOE for $300,000 of my taxpayer’s money.

Amazing I tell you, what are they are teaching these kids in college? And you thought tuition was a big onerous expensive no return on investment? Apparently, academia seems to not understand. It’s too bad they don’t teach financial literacy in our colleges in America. Quite frankly as an entrepreneur, a taxpayer, and an innovator myself who runs a think tank, I’m a little bit miffed with the whole thing. Please consider all this.

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