Shoot for the moon : Deepak Chopra will speak on his Moonshot Project designed to make the state run on 100 percent renewable energy

Alternative medicine and holistic health expert Deepak Chopra will speak about his new project — unrelated to his typical work — this week in Santa Barbara.
Alternative medicine and holistic health expert Deepak Chopra will speak about his new project — unrelated to his typical work — this week in Santa Barbara.

Alternative medicine and holistic health guru Deepak Chopra thinks big and hopes big. And now he has a vision to heal our ailing Earth and it starts with California, top down and bottom up.

In a series of lectures at the Arlington Theatre and elsewhere sponsored by the World Business Academy on Thursday and Friday, he will speak about the California Moonshot Project, a collaboration between the Academy and Dr. Chopra’s nonprofit Chopra Foundation. The plan is to make all of California’s energy renewable and to have it done in 10 years. The name comes from the original moonshot project, President John F. Kennedy’s plan to send a man to the moon and have him safely return to Earth. (President Kennedy gave it 10 years as well — it turned out to take less time.)

Dr. Chopra’s project is a combination of several ideas that he’s come across from meeting various leaders and thinkers, some of whom speak at the Chopra Foundation’s annual “Sages and Scientists” conference.

One of them is Rinaldo Brutoco, founder of the World Business Academy, who has been looking into hydrogen energy for many years. Another is David Gershon, co-founder and CEO of the Empowerment Institute, who has proposed the “Cool City Challenge,” a block-by-block attempt to get folks to “shift their consciousness about the kinds of energy they choose and use,” as Dr. Chopra says. (Currently, six cities, Palo Alto and Davis among them, are up for a bid to become the first city to implement this plan.) He’s also brought in billionaire Richard Branson, who, along with SunEdison’s Jigar Shah, co-founded the Carbon War Room think tank, which is dedicated to market-based solutions to climate change.

“I’m not an expert in any of these areas,” Dr. Chopra admits to the News-Press by phone from his Chopra Foundation in Carlsbad. “But I do know how to convene people and get them to work with each other.”

There’s many more people Dr. Chopra wants to meet, and top of the list is Gov. Jerry Brown. That may happen, he says, but he doesn’t want to say too much more apart from “there’s been interest.” And as for Santa Barbara, he seems to think we’re on board.

If 10 years sounds too fast, Dr. Chopra quips, “You stretch more than you can reach. You never know what will happen.”

Trying to get government to do anything, let alone something done fast, could be challenging. Isn’t bureaucracy going to stand in the way?

Dr. Chopra has already thought about that.

“You have to accept that there is, in Washington alone, 28 health care lobbyists for one congressman,” he says. “Forget about the military industrial complex, the energy complex, etc. What you have to do is hope that enough critical mass forces everybody to shift consciousness. I’ll give some examples: You can’t smoke in public places. You can’t drink and drive. These are all things that came about when enough people said, ‘This is what we want.'”

Another roadblock would appear to be the nature of capitalism itself, where great ideas and public good may take second place to the bottom line and the needs of shareholders. But again, Dr. Chopra has long been on trying to bring social awareness to capital and business. He has written in The Huffington Post about the idea of “Just Capital,” tying social consciousness to Wall Street. He also teaches a course on the idea at Columbia Business School. (According to him, it’s one of the most popular courses.)

“Capitalism itself is shifting right now into what we call social entrepreneurship,” Dr. Chopra says with confidence. “And in a few years, no doubt in my mind, capitalism that does not serve the larger ecosystem will be pariahs. I don’t think it can continue the way that it is.”

The fact that Occupy Wall Street made popular the idea of the “one percent,” and that even talking about income inequality has raised the ire of the richest people on Earth, is evidence to Dr. Chopra that the “tipping point” has been reached.

“When the tipping point occurs, it will happen very fast,” he tells the News-Press. “The SRI class — socially responsible investors — is something like $5 trillion. It’s a growing movement. The only way it could be stopped is if we get too self-important about it. (It will work) if we stay focused, and there’s no personal investment, just for the cause itself.”

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