Thursday, November 1, 2018

A Short Online Letter to the Board of Alphabet Inc.

Dear Chairman Hennessy,

I would like to openly share a question that kept coming back to me in the past couple of days, and that gave me courage to write a short open letter for the first time in my life.

While catching up with daily news I came across a couple of articles in the past week alone, namely on the world’s remaining wilderness areas that are under threat. That the Earth’s oceans have retained 60 percent more heat each year than we’ve previously thought, that humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, that China has legalised rhino horn and tiger bone usage after 25 years, to calling for urgent action to develop technologies for negative emissions because our clean energy efforts won’t be enough.

Here’s the question: is there actually a future for us, for your company, for humanity and our natural environment? What we do today will lay down the trajectory for our carrying capacity on Earth. Instead of investing in self-driving transportation and connecting every human to the Internet, maybe investments should go towards active carbon capture and removal. Or perhaps invest in other organisations that protect rainforests and natural reserves, or in no-till farming techniques.

Some of my peers believe in a future on another planet, but what is the societal cost to create a Noah’s Ark that can live sustainably on another planet, most likely after we’ve destroyed our home beyond the point of no return?

Why am I reaching out to Alphabet in this format? I grew up in a time with great optimism about the future, where the Internet was transforming our human society day by day. At one point, our generation switched from AltaVista and Yahoo to Google. That was, in my opinion, a leap forward in how a search engine could bring us together with a comprehensive information web at our fingertips. One can even argue that the Google search engine has been used at least once by every single Internet user. Imagine now, with the reach of Alphabet Inc. if you would help us remain together as a species and help maintain our planet for a Googol of future generations…

Because this is an open letter I’m not expecting an answer, and I know that there are smart folk that are actively working on some of these problems. Nevertheless, it would mean a great deal to our pale blue dot if not just Alphabet, but also other big players in the private sector would pave the way for a new generation of sustainable technologies and instil some needed optimism on us average Joey Tribbiani’s.

Sincerely,

Francis Laclé