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Tom Steyer thinks business is missing a big opportunity—and that Trump has done ‘nothing but whiff’

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Since Tom Steyer dropped out of the presidential race in February, he has been busy proselytizing about his favorite topic: climate. Both the political and the earthly, that is.

An advisor to Democratic candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden, Steyer is warning that the planet faces imminent calamity if bold and urgent action isn’t taken. But it’s not all doom and gloom, says Steyer, a billionaire and former hedge fund manager. Humanity may yet snatch prosperity from the jaws of eco-devastation.

Fortune caught up with Steyer, whose name has been floated for a possible Biden cabinet placement. He explained the Democratic ticket’s economic recovery plans, which tie together financial stimulus and environmental policy. The discussion ranged from how Steyer is reading the markets to what technological breakthroughs he’s most excited about (see: electric vehicles, offshore windfarms, and more).

Here is that conversation, edited and condensed for clarity.

Fortune: Which is the bigger crisis facing this country, COVID or climate?

Tom Steyer: I don’t separate those. It is our ability to handle the natural world. It’s about dealing with the facts, dealing with the science, and taking into account what you need to do to avoid disaster. Joe Biden intends to deal with them in a way that also addresses our high unemployment rates and the need to create good paying middle-class jobs. Mr. Trump has done nothing but whiff.

What would a Biden presidency entail?

The biggest thing the Biden campaign has proposed is the $2 trillion “build back better” plan to rebuild the infrastructure of America over four years with an eye toward climate and clean energy—but it’s not limited to that. It includes building affordable housing and charging stations for electric vehicles. It includes weatherizing millions of houses, redoing HVACs in commercial buildings, and rebuilding the grid so it can take in renewables. It’s a huge infrastructure deal. This is critical.

The president says the plan costs too much and will destroy the economy.

The exact opposite is true. Did you read Mr. Trump’s taxes? Are you going to listen to this guy on business or economics? I did two studies five or six years ago with Hank Paulson and Mike Bloomberg with the support of American CEOs and policy leaders called “risky business” to show that moving to clean energy creates faster growth, more and better paying jobs, and better health, while avoiding the climate disaster. It is a win, win, win. Clean energy is cheaper than fossil fuel energy. Trump either doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or he’s lying. Those are the only possibilities.

What is the cost to the country—or the planet—of delaying action?

Incalculable. Your generation is going to have to deal with this every single day for the rest of your lives.

Say more.

I live in California. We’ve had over 4 million acres burned so far this year. The record before this was two years ago, 1.9 million acres. The Gulf has a record number of hurricanes. If you have a strong stomach, read about how the now-considered-unstoppable melting of the Greenland and Antarctic glaciers will affect sea level. This is not a problem you can wait four years to deal with. No, this problem will just keep escalating until we get on top of it.

China is making bold commitments. It aims to be “carbon neutralby 2060. Do you believe, or trust, China’s leadership when it makes such pronouncements? Is there any hope of the U.S. and China working together?

I do not want the people of the United States to suffer horribly, and I don’t believe the Chinese leadership wants the people of China to suffer horribly. We can only solve this together. There is a huge business and economic opportunity up for grabs here. We can either seize it or not.

Where should the U.S. focus its attention?

Think about growth. Is growth going to come by us taking marginal market share in the internal combustion business, or is it going to come by us creating a whole new business in things like electric vehicles? Are we going to get growth by coming up with new coal plants? Or are we going to get growth by coming up with entirely new clean ways of creating electricity?

Elon Musk would appreciate your touting electric vehicles.

All I can say is the market is speaking really loudly here—really, really loudly in terms of where we’re going. The Republican Party isn’t listening. Just take a look at where people think the future is—whether that’s the balance sheets of our biggest banks, or the valuations of companies on freely traded exchanges. We say we want America to be energy independent. Let’s talk about how we’re going to do that.

Which technologies excite you most right now?

We can see how much better the battery is going to be and where solar prices are going in the next year or two. But can you really tell me how big offshore wind is? It could be huge. Can you really tell me where we’re going with clean hydrogen? That is a game changer.

As a former hedge fund manager, what advice might you have for people looking to get through this time of economic uncertainty?

I don’t really give investment advice anymore. I always say to people, if you want to do it, do it full time—be completely committed. But I will say this. It has never worked to invest in the past. We literally need to rebuild this country. Drive around and take a look. We need to rebuild the infrastructure and we have to do it on accelerated basis. This is a huge business opportunity.

More must-read finance coverage from Fortune:

Lyron Foster is a Hawaii based African American Musician, Author, Actor, Blogger, Filmmaker, Philanthropist and Multinational Serial Tech Entrepreneur.

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After denying the existence of COVID-19, influencer dies from this disease

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“I also thought there was no COVID, and this is all relative. Until I got sick,” he posted on his Instagram account.

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Report: Shots Fired at Congressional Candidate Jeannine Lee Lake, Who’s Running Against VP Mike Pence’s Brother

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Police in Muncie, Indiana, are investigating what witnesses say was gunfire targeting congressional candidate Jeannine Lee Lak, who’s running against the brother of Vice President Mike Pence.

The Muncie Star Press reported Lake was in her car (which has her name on the side) on Thursday, Oct. 15 when she and three other witnesses reported hearing gunshots. One of the witnesses said several shots may have flown over Lake’s car.

Lake took to Facebook several hours later to express her anger over the situation and with local law enforcement.

Downtown Muncie and it appears that shots have been fired … Witnesses report they were fired in my direction just a minute or so after I parked. We are all okay. Awaiting Muncie Police Department to come take statements. If you all want to help me defeat hate on Nov. 3, chip in what you can. Thank you. https://secure.actblue.com/donate/jeannine-lake-1 or via mail at PO Box 2833 Muncie IN 47307

Posted by Jeannine Lee Lake on Thursday, October 15, 2020

“I’m tired of talking to the local police and not getting anything done,” she said in the video.

Investigators told the Star Press they did not find any evidence of gunfire at the scene and do not have a suspect in the case.

“Officers did not locate any injured parties, damage to vehicles or other property, shell casings or projectile,” Assistant Chief Melissa Please told the Star Press.

Lake is now considering whether to pause in-person campaigning. Lake is also the only Black woman in the state of Indiana competing for a congreassional seat. She’s running against Greg Pence, the incumbent who holds the same seat his brother Mike held before becoming President Trump‘s vice president.

“I’m scared,” Lake said in the video. “I have to be honest, I’m scared. I’m not sure about campaigning right now.”

According to Lake, she’s had to deal with racism and racist threats throughout her campaign, including racist phone messages and packages in the mail and damage to personal property at her home.

“It’s terrifying to me. Now, in the scope of where we’re at with this campaign, in terms of some of the negative things, the harassment that’s happened, I do feel like things are escalating quite a bit,” Lake told the AP.

 

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10 countries where you can retire on just $100,000

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10 countries where you can retire on just $100,000Get the most from your retirement savings in these affordable places outside the U.S.


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