When John Doerr talks, people listen. As one of Silicon Valley's most prolific venture capitalists, having earned upwards of $1 billion betting on tech heavyweights like Amazon, Compaq and Google, investors and businessmen paid close attention when he recently began evangelizing against the threat of global warming and embraced clean technology, citing it as the "biggest economic opportunity of the 21st century,"
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the firm in which he is a partner, has already invested $200 million in a group of startups working on new sources of alternative energy, waste remediation and other technologies to combat rising greenhouse gas emissions. Though we missed covering it the first time around, we wanted to bring to your attention a video of his recent appearance at TED, in which he made a moving, impassioned plea for change. Balancing hints of hope with strong words of caution, Doerr explained how he and his colleagues had spent a year surveying a microcosm of the current state of clean technology. He commended the progress of Wal-Mart, the world's largest private employer, in implementing some simple yet effective green policies at its stores and praised California for leading the way with its momentous AB 32 (i.e. global warming) bill.
He also spent some time discussing the state of the ethanol industry in Brazil, marveling at its wide-scale adoption, and talked up the potential of synthetic biology in revolutionizing the biofuels industry.
The theme he kept returning to, however, was his fear that this was all too little, too late. "I don't think we're going to make it," he repeated several times, citing his concerns for the future well-being of his 15-year old daughter and her generation as the primary motivation for his renewed sense of purpose.
We certainly share in his concerns, though we'd like to think that we're more optimistic about the long-term health of our planet and our ability to tackle global warming. Having said that, it can only help to have more people like John Doerr, the prime power-broker, on our side leading the fight for change.