In a keynote speech worthy of his nickname, "Mouth of the South," CNN founder Ted Turner said the United States should drop solar panels on other countries instead of bombs.
"I can't say U.S. President George W. Bush gets it very well, but hopefully we'll get someone a little smarter next time," he said to whistles and cheers.
In the speech at the Solar Power 2007 conference in Long Beach, Calif., Turner said humanity has never faced a more dangerous and complex problem than global warming.
He also called clean energy such as solar power "the greatest business opportunity in the history of humanity."
"The whole world is going to have to redo its energy regime and solar's going to be a big part of it," he said. "I've already made one fortune and lost it and I'm ready to make another. So let's get rich together and do some good."
Turner compared the clean-energy business to cable television, saying that at any one time twice as many people are watching Cartoon Network (which he also founded) as CNN, and 50 times more people are using coal-fired energy than solar power.
Turner, who famously donated $1 billion to the United Nations in 1997, said he takes the global-warming threat very seriously.
"Without going down swinging, I'm not going to leave a hothouse bomb-burned-out [planet] to our children and our grandchildren," he said. "We know what has to be done, goddamn it, and we're going to do it. That's why I'm here and not at the coal convention."
Turner emphasized the need to switch from coal power to renewables and noted the emissions-related asthma in Atlanta and China.
"Even here, the air quality is damaged by burning all this goddamn fossil fuel," he said, to applause and whistles. "The situation is serious right now. If you're a polar bear, it's as serious as hell right now," he said to laughter. "And I like polar bears."
Global warming will also be one of the biggest issues in the next election because while Iraq "is awful, it won't kill everybody, but global warming will," Turner said. "And I don't like that."
Turner said he supports unlocking part of the $3 trillion spent on the military worldwide and using it to solve the world's climate-change problems.
After all, he said, the world's next superpowers will be determined by who has the best educational systems, science, technology and health care - not aircraft carriers.
"We're losing the war spending $1 billion a day and they don't even have a budget," he said.
Turner's keynote received a standing ovation and attracted a line outside as the capacity exceeded that of the 1,800-person ballroom at the Long Beach Convention Center.
Art Aylesworth, CEO of solar-lighting company Carmanah Technologies Corp., called Turner's speech "bombastic."
"Sometimes, when inertia's not your friend, you need a good push," he said. "You can saw things in many ways, but he really gets your attention. And a guy as high-profile as Ted Turner leaves a wake behind him."
Peter Toggweiler, an engineer with Enecolo in Switzerland, said he was impressed by Turner's keynote.
"I was positively surprised by the clear statements," he said, adding that the world needs more high-ranking people to take action. "Cutting the military budget makes absolute sense and sending PV panels instead of bombs is absolutely a good way of doing it."