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T. Boone Pickens is not an environmentalist. He may be a patriot. He is definitely a <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/blog/main/archives/2009/02/pickens_pragmat.html">pragmatist</a>. That may not turn out to be a bad thing for the environment. Unless Pickens finds environmental protection competes with the national security or his own business interests.

Kevin Ferguson

February 4, 2009

3 Min Read

T. Boone Pickens is not an environmentalist. He may be a patriot. He is definitely a pragmatist. That may not turn out to be a bad thing for the environment. Unless Pickens finds environmental protection competes with the national security or his own business interests.In addition to his advocacy of domestic oil drilling and nuclear power as needed, Pickens's lack of environmental motives also can be found in his water holdings, Mesa Water: "Mesa Water represents a group of Texas Panhandle landowners, led by Boone Pickens, who put a lot of stock in two basic things . . . land and family. For generations, these families have lived and worked in the rolling hills they love. God blessed their land with an underground aquifer filled with naturally pure groundwater. And thanks to the Ogallala Aquifer, these landowners have more water than they can ever use."

There are some environmentalists that take issue with Pickens' plans for the aquifer, which include selling water from the four-county Texas Panhandle area Mesa Water controls, among them the Sierra Club. Just the same, the Sierra Club backs the Pickens Plan: "While we don't agree with Pickens on everything -- we do agree with the elements of his plan and his overarching goals," the group states. Pickens and the Sierra Club are not alone in their pragmatism. John Holdren, a climate change expert and science adviser to President Obama, has long lobbied for a varied approach. In his address at the United Nations' 2008 Investor Summit on Climate Risk, he states: "If you have a big problem and you don't have a panacea ... you need a portfolio. You need not one approach, not two approaches, but many approaches. Not necessarily everything on the menu, because developing the better options to their full potential might spare you from using some of the costlier and riskier ones. But the longer we wait to take serious action, the more we will be forced to accept absolutely everything, the smart things and the stupid things, in a desperate attempt to mitigate climate change." That mix, Holdren has very grudgingly allowed, may have to include nuclear power, although that option is fraught with other hazards. In their pragmatism, they have much in common. Where they part company is the goal of that pragmatism. Pickens advocates doing whatever is necessary for national security. Holdren advocates doing whatever is necessary to avoid catastrophic climate change. Similar pragmatism is found in the IT world as well. Sun's new energy-efficient data center in Broomfield, Colo., for example, is expected to save $1 million and 11,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases annually. But the goal, says Global Lab and Datacenter Design Services senior director Dean Nelson on a Sun promotional video, "was not to save the planet. ... Bottom line: It was to keep our costs under control." The project reduced the data center's square footage to 120,000 square feet from 496,000 square feet. Fortunately, pragmatism -- whether political or economic -- and environmentalism can run in tandem. At least for now. Read Part 1 of this blog here.

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