How can I contact Robert Downey Jr.

Iron Man wants to save our planet! OK then

The Iron Man actor Robert Downey Jr. wants to support the development of new technologies with a foundation that should save our planet. This seems naive to many, but it is still a positive signal, writes 1E9 author Michael Förtsch in his commentary.

From Michael Förtsch

He is one of the smartest people on the planet, an inventor, a visionary, a technology icon, but also a bon vivant and proverb. No, I don't mean Elon Musk, but Robert Downey Jr., or rather: Tony Stark, his alter ego in the Marvel comic book adaptations. When he slips into one of his high-tech suits, he becomes an Iron Man. As a "man in a tin can" he sacrificed himself to be in Avengers: Endgame to save the earth and its people from Titan Thanos. The eleven years of cinema with the heroic but traumatized character have obviously rubbed off on the actor. Because he now wants to do good himself and contribute to improving living conditions on earth. At least he wants to try.

At the re: Mars conference, which Amazon founder Jeff Bezos once started for a small elite, Robert Downey Jr. announced a project in his speech. A foundation he founded, the Footprint Coalition, is due to start work in April 2020. It has a clear goal: to promote technologies that could help save “Mother Earth” and preserve it for future generations. World saving through technology, just like Iron Man does.

As the actor says, he himself developed “a sense of the crisis”. Especially since he has contributed a lot to climate change with his lifestyle, his travels and his consumption. “I'm a one-man carbon dioxide nightmare colossus,” he jokes. He now wants to take countermeasures with the Footprint Coalition. “With everything from robotics to nanotechnology, we can significantly, if not completely, cleanse the planet in just ten years,” he hopes after having had many conversations with “some super-intelligent, impressive experts”.

Iron Man is not going to save the world, but it can help

"I don't pretend to understand the complexities we face as a species just because I've embodied a genius in my professional life," says Robert Downey Jr. on stage. And in fact, in view of this ambitious goal, the actor could well be accused of naivety, a bit of cockiness and perhaps even a certain hubris - just like many other self-appointed rescuers of our species.

Anyone who believes that all it takes is the right technology to make our planet simple within just ten years to make heal that will probably fail. Especially since we humans have already ignored all sorts of warnings and missed opportunities. A number of animal species have already died out, large areas have withered and glaciers have melted. Nanotechnology and robotics will hardly be able to change that in the foreseeable future - unfortunately. And yet it is fantastic what Robert Downey Jr. is planning with his Footprint Coalition.

That he and his experts will not produce a miracle technology that will reverse the pollution and damage of decades in just a few years, that should somehow be clear to the actor too. But with targeted funding and public relations work, it could help advance technological developments that can help repair damage in certain areas, minimize additional damage to nature or compensate for the effects of climate change - even if only on a manageable scale.

It's a puzzle

The challenge of preserving our world and species is like a giant puzzle, the individual parts of which have to be brought together and correctly linked. We have to achieve a change of heart in politics and business, as demanded by Fridays for Future. We need to rethink our consumer culture, the way we travel, how and what we eat, how we produce energy. We have to achieve a new form of international and intergenerational cooperation.

Of course, you can't just flip a switch that suddenly activates all of these fields. Even if there is an abrupt change of heart, processes and regulations are needed that are just beginning and whose side effects on society and culture must be researched and compensated for. Even here, new technologies can unfold incredible benefits. They can act as a buffer - even if they are not yet working perfectly. E and hydrogen cars can replace combustion vehicles, E and hydrogen trains can replace diesel locks. Car and ride sharing can make private cars superfluous for many. They would keep a civilization mobile despite climate-positive upheaval.

At the same time, new technologies and concepts can be developed, researched and tested that could at least partially reverse our actions. Be it systems that suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, fish plastic waste out of the oceans or drone and robot systems that automate the reforestation of deforested forests. There are already first approaches and even functioning systems here. It just takes the courage and the money to use them to their full potential.

Yes, Robert Downey Jr. is probably not a genius like Iron Man, a scientist, or a visionary. But he could make a small contribution to all of this, which ultimately carries weight. And his visibility could ensure that others do the same. It may be a little over-optimistic about what he believes, but what he tries and wants to do is good.