As news of the devastation of Maria sinks in affecting the 3.4 million inhabitants of Puerto Rico, it reminds me of my privilege. Indeed, disasters like this will continue to happen and probably get worse.
A couple of thoughts:
- I would call on the world to see this as a silver lining. We have a moment to make a collective response to put the island on track to become a hub of innovation, resourcefulness and resilience. We have a moment to stand together and do the right thing.
- It is going to cost a lot of money to rebuild the Puerto Rican infrastructure. If spent poorly or hastily without taking into account the key stakeholders, many of the same problems will plague the territory again. There should be transparency on finances, and this could be made possible with new distributed ledger technologies.
- I cannot even begin to empathize how much of a hot mess this country is right now and will continue to be, and humanitarian relief should be prioritized. The navigation challenges to address this will build leaders who can find more efficient ways of supporting the public health infrastructure.
- Solar energy should move into the island quickly, and batteries should be installed with a long term perspective to support a distributed power grid. Not only does this allow power to get back to the island much more rapidly, but it also replaces the need for gas powered generators.
- The do-gooders cannot co-opt what rightfully belongs to Puerto Ricans and educating from the ground up and building local leadership is a key part of long term success. Puerto Ricans who left the island but would want to come back should have easy opportunities to do so.
- Puerto Ricans are American citizens. This fact should not be forgotten by other Americans and true patriots must stand fully behind whatever it’s going to take to get the island back on it feet.
- It is highly probably that whatever the US government gives to Puerto Rico will not be enough. The investment community must be willing to project finance new investments. If our government had its act together it could allow for a new incentive structure that retroactively allowed investor “first responders” to write off some of their taxes.
- Holistic agriculture and indoor farming can improve resilience as well as soil quality and local jobs.
- New ways to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in concrete can help rebuild much of the physical infrastructure.
- We’re building a business that make payment for points 8 and 9 (and for anything that can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) easier
It’s going to be hard. There is a lot to learn from and to rip ownership of the island from vulture funds. Watch John Oliver’s piece on how exclusion from being able to go bankrupt, industrial collapse, school failures and deadly mosquitoes have completely screwed the island.
Also published on Medium.