18 June 2007

Is CleanTech Only About Money?

Let's Put the Clean in CleanTech

picture of audience, photo credit Chip KrauskopfI was at a cleantech event recently, and the organizer asked the audience (about 300), "How many of you came by public transportation?" I saw two hands go up. And this was in California, where even the Governor's has reduced his Hummer collection by 50%.

Almost all those investors, entrepreneurs, students, job-seekers, inventors, and other members of the cleantech ecosystem drove their cars to the event. (Some of the guys from CalCars did come in their plug-in-hybrid.)

Everybody is eager to make money off cleantech, but few are willing to make the changes in their own behaviors that will contribute as much as new technology to slowing global warming. And this crowd was probably better-informed about global warming than your average bunch.

I am sure the transition from a carbon-wasting economy to a carbon-sparing one will create a lot of wealth. Probably it will increase the total wealth of society as a whole. (Especially if you take into account the costs our descendants would incur trying to deal with a warmer world if we don't do enough today.) But whiz-bang new technology can't control global warming by itself. We have to change our behaviors.

And one of the most carbon-intensive behaviors we have is driving ourselves everywhere whenever we want to. Even if we can afford it (even after the cost of fuel increases substantially, as it has to do) we have to live differently. I sort of feel those in the cleantech sector should set an example.

So plan your events in locations which can be reached by public transportation, and at hours when buses run.

If we commit to a less carbon-intensive future we can all get there together.