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No more business as usual

Last week, I watched Kate Gordon speak at the Silicon Valley Leadership Group’s Energy and Sustainability Conference. I always enjoy watching Kate present, because she is always entertaining, substantive, and provocative. The subject was our upcoming Risky Business Project ( and our report that will be released next Tuesday in New York. Having read the report, I can tell you the findings are stunning. It looks at the economic risks the U.S. economy faces due to climate change like a classic risk analysis – just like business, government, and the military do all the time.

Kate was only able to touch on the high-level findings in her speech, as we have not released the report yet, but she made clear that California can expect radical changes across the state if we don’t move quickly to cut carbon emissions. We face great economic disruptions if we continue on the “business as usual” path.

To make the point, Kate talked about the lowly almond, which is a big crop in California. She explained that it takes one gallon of water to grow a single almond, and – as we are experiencing right now in California – things change quickly when you run out of water.

Not that I doubted Kate, but I Googled “How much water is needed to grow an almond” and found out she was right. Even more shocking, it takes four to nine gallons of water to grow a single walnut. More fun facts on water and food here.

It is our hope – and expectation – that the Risky Business Project’s first report will have an impact. We have a great set of partners, an incredible research team, and the Next Generation staff who have worked incredibly hard to take this idea from concept to reality in about 18 months. For a research project of this magnitude, that is amazing.

The report will be available on Tuesday, June 24th, and you can sign up to receive it at The press conference from New York will be webcast live through the Risky Business Project website. I look forward to hearing your feedback.

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