My #1 Mission in Life: To End the Use of Carbon-Based Fuels

Dec 21, 2020

It all started with an ambulance ride to the hospital in 2006. I had been playing tennis at Waialae Country Club and felt abnormally tired afterwards. I stumbled to the front desk. They called a doctor who happened to be playing tennis as well. It looked to him like a heat stroke and he asked if I wanted them to call an ambulance. I agreed. My cardiologist later said that it was the best decision I’d made in my entire life.

Initially, I was just going in for observation. They didn’t detect anything wrong with me at the country club. But, halfway to the hospital, the siren went on. I was experiencing a “widowmaker heart attack,” which is a 100% blockage in the left anterior descending (LAD) artery.

Having just sold Blue Lava Wireless (my mobile games company) a month earlier, my first thought was, “You’ve got to be kidding me; I haven’t spent any of the money yet!” My second thought was, “No, I’m not going. I still have stuff to do.”

At the hospital, I received two stents and had 15 years added to my life expectancy as a result of this minor medical procedure. So, having just survived a heart attack, I thought about what I would do with this new second life. What would piss me off if I hadn’t done anything about it by the time I really died? I’d already made enough money to retire from my video game career. My kids already graduated college. What “stuff” did I have left to do?

I set about finding my missions in life; my bucket list.

My first mission came to me in the back of a newspaper in the recovery room. A small article—as small as they can get—said that humans were expected to kill all the coral in the world by the end of the century. Ocean acidification is going to dissolve coral quicker than the coral can rebuild itself. As a resident of Hawaii and an avid fan of surfing, I have a deep appreciation for the ocean’s amazing ecosystem. I thought to myself, “What a bunch of idiots.” And worse yet, I’m one of them.

Ocean acidification is caused by carbon dioxide being absorbed into the ocean. Carbon dioxide is coming from the atmosphere. We put it there. The combustion of fossil fuel and a bunch of other processes we have invented in the last couple hundred years have put so much CO2 into the air that it’s causing climate change, global warming, mass extinction and a host of other seriously nasty things. So, I decided on my first life mission: “To end the use of carbon-based fuel.”

I wondered how I might accomplish such a large and audacious goal. I thought “Let’s start in Hawaii (my current home) and then scale our solutions to other island communities and eventually reach the rest of the world.” Hawaii is one of the most isolated communities in the world. If we can do it here, we can do it anywhere. And, I have to figure out how to clean my own room before I ask other people to clean theirs.

So, I created the Blue Planet Foundation, a nonprofit organization that advocates for climate change education and policy, and Blue Planet Energy, an energy storage company producing safe and cost-effective clean energy solutions. Using Blue Planet Energy products, I took my own properties off-grid. I worked with Blue Planet Foundation to pass Hawaii’s 100% renewable energy by 2045 mandate, the first in the nation. Now, as we witness other states and communities adopt similar mandates, we’re focusing beyond Hawaii and beyond energy to create a greener future for all of humanity.

This commitment to a carbon neutral future guides my daily activities, my business decisions and my mindset. We still have a long way to go (offsetting my carbon footprint from other aspects of my life), but I have taken the first steps necessary to create a more sustainable lifestyle and develop the technologies for others to join me.