So Branson and a bunch of other rich dipshits, including Larry Page, Vinod Khosla, Elon Musk (above, trying to look thoughtful), Jimmy Wales and Tony Blair flew off to some island to party with dancing girls and get massages and eat ridiculous food and put their pea brains together to talk about global warming. I really really want to make fun of these ridiculous twats, but they’re kind of doing a good job of it all by themselves.
FWIW, yes, I was invited to attend this stupid event. I was like, Dudes, have you thought this through at all? I mean do you realize how ridiculous you’re going to look when Andrew Ross Sorkin writes this up in the Times?
For example, Branson asks, “Do we really think the world is on fire?” Of course the other nitwits say yes, yes, yes, oh yes, the world is definitely on fire, a major catastrophe is right around the corner, oh my God, yes, it’s terrible, fire everywhere, conflagration, the planet is melting — and oh, Tony, could you be a dear and pass me that amazing tarte Tatin and just a smidge of that whipped cream? Lovely. And then let’s do some more windsurfing and Jimmy can go bother the whores.
Never mind that we just had an incredibly cold winter in North America and huge record snowfalls across the continent. As Al Gore said to a bunch of us the other day, these record cold spells and record snowfalls are actually caused by global warming. To which Jerry York replied, “Jeez then I guess we better stop this global warming before we all fucking freeze to death, eh?”
Jerry, who’s the ultimate global warming skeptic, offers the following thought experiment. Imagine that instead of global warming what we were facing was a giant asteroid the size of the moon hurtling straight for our planet, expected to make impact in, oh, about ten years. In other words, if you really believe that global warming is about to destroy the planet, why haven’t you quit your job and moved to the top of a mountain somewhere to escape the rising ocean levels? Why aren’t you stockpiling food? Why aren’t you going door to door, telling everyone to run for their lives? Why aren’t you doing something? (And no, building a $100,000 electric roadster doesn’t count as doing something.)
Anyway, maybe the world really is getting warmer. Who knows. My point is that Branson and the boys aren’t nearly as scared as they’d like you to believe. Look at the photo above. Do those guys look like people who believe the world is on the brink of an imminent catastrophe that will kill millions of people? I mean they don’t look too scared or anything do they? Because we’ve all seen pictures of serious people doing serious things, right? Like the Yalta conference? Or the Cuban missile crisis? Or the Spanish Civil War? The Middle East peace process? The Anglo-Irish accord? That business in Bosnia a few years back? Ask yourself — were any of these things settled by a bunch of not-very-serious businessmen prancing around on a Caribbean island?
Here’s the thing. Everyone who’s ever dealt with Richard Branson realizes that he’s a complete con man, and his involvement in anything is a sure sign that it’s a crock of shit. Honestly, no matter where you are, if Branson gets on board you know there’s something profoundly wrong with the project. It’s the business equivalent of finding out that some movie has Donald Sutherland in it.
Truth is, Goldilocks does not really believe the world is about to burst into flames. What he does believe is that the global warming “crisis” is the next big way to make money off hype and fear. It’s the Y2K scam all over again. Truth is, the photo above and the ones on the linked page show a bunch of lucky rich bastards scheming to get even more rich. I’m telling you this because I’ve talked to these guys. I’ve been invited to invest in these funds. And I’ve done it. Why not? If the ducks are quacking, as they say.
Every VC in the Valley has a hard-on for greentech because it’s the first market they’ve ever seen where they can mitigate their risk by laying it off onto governments (ie taxpayers). The trick is to spread lots of hype and put pressure on governments (hence Kleiner hires Al Gore) so that governments will provide subsidies to keep these venture-funded startups alive until they can be flogged off onto the public markets. They’ll sell these stocks to dentists and they’ll use the same pitch that Toyota uses on the Prius — sure it’s overpriced, but think how good you’ll feel. These will be IPOs as a form of therapy, and the Birkenstock-wearing suckers will sing Kumbaya and talk about how capitalism is saving the world.
The great thing about this approach is not simply that it will let obscenely rich scammers get even more obscenely rich off the backs of taxpayers and suckers in the public markets, but that it also will enable these rich assholes to feel really good about themselves while they’re doing it. They can run around feeling sanctimonious about doing something meaningful with their lives. They also can feel a little less weird and guilty about having so much money.
Because believe me, almost everyone who has more than a billion dollars feels really weird and guilty about the money. (Larry Ellison and I are rare exceptions.) Rich dudes always need some kind of weird hobby (ballooning; mountain-climbing; building $100,000 electric sports cars; going into outer space with the Russians) and some kind of meaningful cause. If that cause gets you lots of good press and also involves flying your jet to exotic islands and partying with hired dancing girls in bikinis, so much the better.