What are you afraid of? The wrong things — according to Søren Ekelund
A few weeks back, I met Søren Ekelund. We were both invited to a Halloween party at the house of the first people who travelled around the globe in an electric car — a car that Søren himself had helped build. The car was a converted Nissan Qashqai and it had some trouble charging. After fiddling with it for a while, we all sat down at a grand dinner table and enjoyed a fantastic pumpkin soup! Lucky for me, I got to sit next to Søren. And he told me he was waiting for his TEDx Copenhagen Talk to go public. I was quite surprised to hear what it was about.
You know nothing, average human!
Søren told me that he had discovered that the cheapest way to save lives was to build an asteroid defence system. He presents some examples: The likelihood of getting killed by a shark is about half the chance of getting killed by a falling vending machine. The likelihood of being killed by terrorists is slightly lower than being killed by an asteroid. Yet, we spend billions in defending ourselves against terrorists and next to nothing in defending ourselves against asteroids.
Yes, the title of the talk is somewhat provocative, but there is a strong point to it. See the full talk here.
Is he actually serious about defending ourselves against asteroids? He sure is! He co-founded the Emergency Asteroid Defence Project for this reason. And to add to his TEDx Talk, let me bring to your attention the concept of public goods (a great video on the subject can be found here). It brings about the problem of nobody being willing to pay for a public good individually due to the (mistaken) notion that somebody else probably will. Thus, nobody pays to avoid disaster, and we are all doomed. So what to do about it?
Venture Capital Financing
As an experiment, Søren tried to finance the Emergency Asteroid Defence Project through crowdfunding, but just as he had suspected, he raised almost no money at all. So, if crowdfunding does not work and the concept of public goods really is a thing that humans are not wired to grasp, what will it take to finance a project like this on a global scale? Well, Søren found a solution and its called Venture Capital Financing of Society. The website explains it elegantly:
The Venture Capital Financing of Society (VCFS) foundation is an investment fund with a scientific solution to sustainable profits, focused on transparent terms plus massive data analysis by proprietary software and vast Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) entrepreneur experience, in a team that leverages the pros of SRI while avoiding the cons of general venture capital funds.
This is a grand concept, and it might just save all of us. First of all, let’s get that Asteroid Defense System built (it costs the same as one week of the US anti-terrorism budget), and then let’s move on to solve the climate change crisis, please.