Still, some question whether these philanthropic investments can make a difference when it comes to a planetary crisis.
“I don’t see how giving a billion dollars to a wealthy university in the short term will move the needle on this issue,” said David Callahan, author of “The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age. ” “It’s nice that he’s saying goodbye to his money, but that billion dollars could have been better spent getting this on the scale of public opinion. As long as the public doesn’t see this as a top-level issue, politicians won’t do anything.” to do.”
Arun Majumdar, who was named as the school’s inaugural dean and has advised the Obama and Biden administrations on energy issues, said the school would provide context and analysis around climate change issues but would stop advocating. “We are not going into the political arena,” he said. “That is a very slippery slope for us.”
Mr. Majumdar, who currently holds a chair at Stanford named after Jay Precourt, a businessman who made his name in the oil business, also said the new school would work with and accept donations from fossil fuel companies.
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“Not all oil and gas industries are on board, but there are some that are under pressure to diversify or they will not survive,” said Mr Majumdar. “Those who want to diversify and be part of the solutions, and who want to work with us, are open to that.”
Mr Doerr said he was first inspired to tackle climate change in 2006 after watching Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth” with his family. He said that during the dinner party after the movie, his daughter said to him, “Your generation caused this problem. You better fix it.” The following year, Mr. Gore joined Kleiner Perkins, Mr. Doerr’s venture capital firm.
In the years that followed, Kleiner Perkins made several major investments in clean energy companies and Mr. Doerr gave a TED Talk entitled “Saving (and profit) in Greentech.” But during the 2008 financial crisis, when the cost of natural gas plummeted due to fracking, many of those clean energy companies failed.