Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have been trying to convince the cadre of American’s wealthiest residents to give away 50% of their net worth before they die. They are calling it The Giving Pledge. Even for someone who lives in New York City, where multi-million dollar apartments are commonplace on street after street, it is easy to lose sight on just how much money is condensed into the uppermost financially solvent citizens in our country and what that money could do, for say sustainability, if the priorities of more of its members were closer to those of philanthropists like Warren Buffet. For this, we can turn to the famed “Forbes 400” that lists the 400 wealthiest Americans each year. As of 2010, those twenty-score people represent a collective $1.27 trillion dollars, more than most of us can even fathom. Sure that’s approaching twice the entire federal economic stimulus package, but it’s also more than the GDP of 94% of African countries combined.
If we really got all of those people to part with just half of their accumulated funds, here’s the dent that $635 billion could make:
- Clean up all polluted United States E.P.A. Superfund sites almost 4 times over
- 488 GW of wind power including battery storage for 33% of production capacity
- Replace over 150 GW of Coal Power Capacity with Natural Gas
- Buy 27.8 Million Toyota Priuses or 1.27 Million Hybrid-Electric Buses
And then there is one of the most important stats of all: How much change in quality of life would result from cutting a fortune in half for any one of those 400 people? Zero.
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