Our conversation with entrepreneurial Iowans in advance of the caucuses continues. To read the first half of the energy and environment discussion, click here. For a brief synopsis of the panel and its participants, click here. You can catch up on all the previous installments, including the introduction, here.
INC.COM: Is there any candidate who strikes anybody here as being close to what you'd like to hear on energy?
ADAM CARROLL: Dennis Kucinich is probably the only one out there. [Others in the group laugh.] You know, unfortunately, it takes someone who's totally off the wall to come in and change it. And politics right now it seems like everyone is toeing this line. Nobody's willing to step out.
JOSH MORE: I would like to see a de-emphasis in reducing the price of gas. I think it's pretty much a given at this point that gas is going to be expensive. We're running out of a resource, economics says it should become a more expensive resource. So changing either how we utilize it or modifying the culture so we're not as dependent on it would be useful to me.
ROBB SPEARMAN: I don't understand why gas went from $1.25 to $3 in the last two or three years. But the oil companies have made just ungodly profits, and we're spending just a boatload of money over in Iraq -- we should have control of the oil. We must be spending billions and billions and billions of dollars there, and I think it's got us nowhere.
We haven't seen the effects of it yet. We'll start seeing it 12 months from now, two years from now. It's almost a repeat of what happened in the Seventies when we had all those high interest rates, the housing market collapsed, and everything else.
STEVE BOERS: We can't control China, though. How much has their gas consumption gone up, just like it did with the steel? If we don't buy it, they will buy it.
WAYNE HANSEN: That gets back to the environment, too, because there's no control on that, either. Here in the United States we're catching all the heat and pressure on the environmental issues -- and we obviously want to take care of our natural resources and our environment -- but there's absolutely none on China.
HANK EVANS: They're bringing a new power plant on every day -- some 360 last year. Virtually no environmental controls, and we're sitting here wringing our hands over two little carbons going out the tailpipe. It's a drop in the bucket. I read the other day they're going to be responsible for 68 percent of the world's carbon emissions by the end of the next ten years.
INC.COM: What do people want to see done, if anything, about global warming?
ROWENA CROSBIE: I'm not sure anybody really has this thing figured out. Certainly there seems to be some consensus that the carbon footprint that people are leaving has an impact on it, but I suspect scientists would also tell you that the world's warming up anyway, so there's probably some Mother Nature going on as well. And, yeah, the government should be paying attention to that. I'd like to see them continue to study it.
INC.COM: Should there be a regulatory effort to reduce our carbon footprint at this point or not?
ROWENA CROSBIE: My understanding is there sort of is. I mean, for a long time, plants have had all kinds of government regulations about how they're supposed to dispose of noxious fumes and things like that. We've got restrictions on emissions in cars, too. They're just going to continue to look closely at it, I presume, and see what else is appropriate.
STEVE BOERS: It's got to be done globally. We can't do it alone. If we're trying to be the nice guys, doing everything right while no one else cares, then we're shooting ourselves basically, almost being taken advantage of. It's not just China, it's anybody who's industrialized that's not taken the care to slow down emissions in any way, shape, or form.
JOSH MORE: It's clear that even if we were to change things now, some of the effects are going to happen -- there's nothing we can do about that. So I would like to see a shift in global policy to penalize economically countries that are not doing anything to curtail emissions, coupled with a strategy for dealing with the effects that are coming. It's a little early for such a strategy since some of the effects aren't clearly known, but from the research I've seen it looks right now that there are going to be areas of his country that are going to run out of water, and disturbingly those are the same areas we have increased population growth. And that seems unsustainable to me.
In Part IV, our entrepreneurs discuss the cost health care, for their employees and themselves.