Stewart and Lynda Resnick recently announced that they will provide California Institute of Technology (CalTech) the second-largest donation ever to an American university – $750 million for environmental study, with a focus on technological solutions to fight climate change.
According to Thomas F. Rosenbaum, CalTech President, this gift will be used to build a research center and to support a variety of projects, including attempts to sequester carbon from the atmosphere and store it in the ocean, capture and reuse rainfall, make plants more drought-resistant, and create easier-to-recycle plastics.
The Resnicks, owners of the Wonderful Company – with brands including Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful, Wonderful Pistachios, and Teleflora – have been criticized by environmentalists due to their businesses being heavy consumers of water and plastic. The bottled-water industry produces plastic waste and uses energy to ship water long distances, which is not sustainable. In addition, the Wonderful Company grows and sells almonds and pistachios, which require a lot of water to grow.
Mr. Resnick says he and his wife are providing the money to protect future generations because they have seen the devastating impact of climate change in their own business. “No one likes to deal with something that is unpleasant if they can kick it down the road,” he says, but “no experts are saying take your time. It’s happening now.”
The research funded by the Resnicks’ donation could make global agriculture more sustainable and mitigate some of the problems to which the Resnicks’ companies contribute. Mr. Resnick says, “If we had an alternative to plastic, we would use it.”
Of the $750 million donation, approximately $100 million will go toward construction of a building to house the Resnick Sustainability Resource Center, $250 million will finance research immediately, and $400 million will go into the university’s endowment for future environmental research.
For more information on the $750 million donation to CalTech, visit the school’s Web site.
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