Sunday, 2 December 2007


Sustainability is yet again the flavour of the month. A major broker was promoting its importance at a Conference in Sao Paolo two weeks back. 30 years ago my brother and I picked up a cheque for $10,000 in Houston for an essay on sustainability. We focused on what the UK should do with its North Sea Oil Resources and proposed a fund which would be used to develop sustainable alternatives when the oil runs out. Peter Walker, a key figure in the defeat of the miners' strike and a very successful entrepreneur/politician, told us that no government would take such a long term view.

In fact the UK did not blow the oil bonanza, it kept fuel taxes high, but it did not make the significant investments in alternative energy sources that we proposed. Now it needs to.

The prize that we won in 1977 was the George and Cynthia Mitchell Prize for Sustainable Development, sponsored by the Mitchell Energy and Development Corporation and supported by the University of Houston and the Club of Rome. It was awarded at a Conference in Houston on the subject of "Alternatives to Growth" at which Herman Kahn, Tip O'Neill and Jim Wright spoke. I remember that Jim Wright ,a Texan congressman who later succeeded Tip O'Neill as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, stated that there were "no alternatives to growth" - for some in Texas some things never change, but George and Cynthia Mitchell made an investment so that they could.

No comments: