Almost overnight America has gone from a booming economy and full employment to an economy in free-fall and mass unemployment that soon will reach levels last seen at the height of The Great Depression. We are now in the midst of a pandemic emergency that may take trillions of dollars to solve. But the country is still in the midst of a slower moving but potentially more destructive climate emergency that also must be solved.
Saul Griffith thinks now is the time to kill two birds with one stone. The serial entrepreneur of a dozen companies in the San Francisco Bay Area has a grand plan about how to solve both emergencies through the ultimate infrastructure bill – the full buildout of a clean energy sustainable infrastructure for the entire country. In fact, Griffith thinks that this is about the only shovel-ready project with enough scale that could save the American economy at this point.
Griffith knows what he is talking about. He is the founder and chief scientist of Otherlab, a R&D company that helps U.S. government agencies and Fortune 500 companies design and build a wide range of transformative technologies, particularly involving clean energy. He has received the MacArthur “genius” award and even has been profiled in The New Yorker.
When the coronavirus emergency hit, Griffith was in the final stages of publishing a book called “Climate Emergency: Break Glass,” a grand plan from an engineer’s perspective on how America could dramatically scale up efforts to transition to a clean energy and sustainable infrastructure before it’s too late. We checked in with him for a long interview to get his thoughts on how best to get out of the coronavirus crisis. Hear him lay out all his many ideas in full.