Dean Kamen is known for his many inventions, some of which have transformed the world, from the insulin pump and an all-terrain wheelchair to portable water purification systems and robotic prosthetic limbs. Of course, others, like his Segway self-balancing electric scooter (which visitors to the Texas capitol will see whizzing past with curious sightseers holding on for dear life), became more of a pop-culture phenomenon than a major boost to his pocketbook.
His love for science, technology, engineering and innovating has made him wealthy and in 1986, Kamen bought a tiny, 2-acre private island off the coast of Connecticut in Long Island Sound, where he began bumping heads with the local authorities from the town of Southold, N.Y., which has jurisdiction over the island, when he wanted to put up a wind turbine. Like our Governor Perry, he made noises about seceding, but eventually did receive his variance to build his personal wind turbine. That turbine, coupled with the use of solar panels, provides the island with all its power. He replaced all the island’s lighting with LEDs, which cut down his in-house energy consumption by 70 percent, thus creating the most carbon-neutral kingdom (his pseudo island nation kingdom) on the planet — “carbon-negative,” in fact.
Kamen’s methods may sometimes seem childish and self-serving, but he claims to use mirth to attract attention to what he considers his most important work: inspiring others to think outside the box in developing new ways to live better lives and he hopes to inspire young people to follow his lead in seeking out innovation so that they, too, can become island rulers — or at least the masters of their fates.
Let’s hope that he does inspire people in this country to innovate and they can lead us into a new energy future.
By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.