Thursday, March 08, 2007

TED 2007

I'm at TED listening to John Doerr talk about how he's really concerned about CO2 emissions and global warming. He's talking about how him and 50 of his rich and powerful friends flew around the world in jets, discussing this issue, and how Brazil has successfully switched from gasoline to ethanol. He also spoke about how him and his friends lobbyied the California Congress to pass a cap and trade law to reduce CO2 emissions in the state. He says this will create jobs and wealth. He mentions that better bio fuels will be important, and how Kleiner Perkins is putting $200M into this area.

I'm skeptical about all of this. Firstly, flying around the world in jets is not a good way to reduce CO2 emissions.

Secondly, I would bet that Doerr's CO2 footprint rivals Al Gore's. Getting rich people like Doerr and Gore to live in small poor-people homes sums up the issues with the de-industrialization solution overall. Rich people don't want to live like poor people. Industrialized countries don't want to go back to poor agrarian societies.

Thirdly, I am willing to bet that Doerr's calculations on the economic benefits of cap-and-trade legislation do not take into account dead weight loss -- almost certainly the net effect of it is poorer Californians overall. The potential economic upside would come if it actually did reduce whatever negative effects may come from global warming, but California is too small to have any impact on this.

Fourthly, bio fuels work by burning carbon as well. They are also less efficient than gasoline powered cars, so I cannot see how a move to biofuel or ethanol would do anything other than *increase* CO2 emissions.

He left the stage weeping. (Businessweek on the same talk here. The old TED did not have reporters, the new TED is crawling with them).


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