It was a very long Taco Bell drive-thru line, and we were trapped in it, but we didn’t mind. I was with one of my 13 year old (twin) daughters, Anjali, who had just finished singing in a concert for her school. We sat and we waited. In the end, I’m so glad we were stuck in that ridiculous line because we got to talk about all kinds of stuff. One of the things she’d been meaning to tell me was that she’d recently seen an incredible commercial on YouTube. This really caught my attention because a commercial had caught hers – to the point that she actually watched the whole advertisement (which kids never do). She proceeded to tell me about Manoj Bhargava, who is the founder of the drink, 5 Hour Energy. I have to admit that I had no idea who he was. And I was (initially) doubtful that the type of person she was describing was behind the little jolt of energy in a bottle which I’d bought so many times at gas stations to keep me awake on long drives. I’d always just assumed the company was part of Pepsi or Coke or some other evil empire. But she was totally correct, and her description of his good deeds was also spot on.
The only part she hadn’t mentioned was that the advertisement she’d seen was probably for a new movie about him called Billions in Change, which can be viewed in its entirety on YouTube.
So the story goes that since his businesses had been so successful, Bhargava had been trying to “give back” and help humanity via his charitable organizations. At some point, he stood back and (accurately) pegged the “philanthropy game” as ineffective and inefficient, not really trickling down far enough to the people who really needed it, saying:
“We don’t need more awareness. We’ve had enough talk about what’s wrong. We need solutions that are realistic and effective — and we need action.”
So he chose to focus on 3 areas that would make the most difference in the world:
“From severe drought, to air pollution, to medical costs, if you deal in the fundamental areas of water, energy, and health, you’ll affect everything and everyone, both rich and poor. That’s how you change the world.”
I couldn’t agree more.
I write and research climate change. A little more than a year ago I was determined to devote all my spare time to the issue, so I became a federal contractor and began to try and figure out why nothing of substance was actually being done. Sure, issues were being talked about and examined from every angle, ad infinitum, but it was by all the same groups of people, the same think tanks, universities, and wholly unoriginal NGO’s, all just grant-writing monsters. In the meantime, we as a species are getting nowhere. And fast. And while I could (and still might have to), work on a grant, just staring at some facet of the problem, I know it won’t actually solve a thing. Not one damn thing.
And I’m forced to agree with the fossil fuel-funded climate change denial “industry” when they criticize the loads of money wasted on neoenvironmentalists, who definitely have a good thing going. I question where they’re going to spend their bounty after we’ve hit one too many tipping points. And I can easily imagine that many of those toiling in the Biggest Green organizations truly think they’re achieving something – if they just stay busy enough. Something must be getting done, right? The self-anointed experts (when it comes to the environment) are on the job, and they’re fairly well-funded so things are getting better, right? I’m here to say they definitely are NOT. If anything, we’ve been going the wrong directions for decades, with virtually every quantifiable aspect of the climate crisis worse than ever. Just as dangerous, they’ve institutionalized the Clusterfuck of Doing Absolutely Nothing to the point that anyone who dares tip the applecart must first pierce the thickest veil ever. Bhargava puts it best when he says that he doesn’t rely on “experts” because they’re expert at everything that was. Almost by definition, they are incapable of conceiving of entirely new solutions to the same (seemingly unsolvable) problems.
Bhargava admits that he goes for the most bang for the buck – and it has to be as simple as possible. When his team pitches new ideas, he asks, “Is it a slam dunk?” If the answer is anything short of “absolutely,” then he’s not interested. He’s got a lab (called Stage Two) working on incredible stuff. For example, he came to realize that half the planet (3 billion people) either have no electricity, or only have electricity 2-3 hours a day. His response was Free Electric, which is a hybrid bicycle which you pedal for one hour and which then produces 24 hours of electricity. Boom. Problem solved. Mind blowing to see it in action.
There’s the Rain Project for desalinization of water – achieved in a matter of minutes. The water can be used for any purpose you wish (not only as drinking water), and it’s a mobile and flexible system. He’s got California’s drought figured out. I call THIS “Must See TV.”
And how about approaching human health by making wellness better, instead of just responding when the body breaks down and becomes ill? Enter ECP Renew (External Counter Pulsation). My daughter LOVED this invention. Want to see it in action, along with the rest of Bhargava’s great work? Check out his full movie, Billions in Change here on YouTube.
Manoj Bhargava is in a hurry. He’s thought through many of the roadblocks and bottlenecks which will be thrown up to oppose his new ideas (“Those that export fossil fuels will be pretty upset with me,” he says regarding his team’s groundbreaking work with graphene which just might supply unlimited, carbon-free energy). I can’t help but root for him and think that a world full of problems with no ready answers has met its match when it comes face-to-face with people like Tesla’s Elon Musk and 5 Hour Energy’s Manoj Bhargava. It’s just maybe, quite possibly, a slam dunk.