In James Bond movies, evil-doers meet in exotic settings
to plot the destruction of the planet.
But the people here were plotting to save the planet.
The financiers who bankrolled the Web boom of the 1990s
have started chasing the new "New Thing": green power.
Venture capitalists are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into young companies
that cook up biofuels and harness the power of the sun.
They have a lot of money riding on global warming.
At island retreat, Branson and friends
seek to save a world 'on fire'
by Andrew Ross Sorkin, International Herald Tribune, Mar 20, 2008
NECKER ISLAND, British Virgin Islands: Richard Branson was lounging under the starry midnight sky on this palm-dappled speck of an island recently when he popped a sobering question. "So, do we really think the world is on fire?" Branson, the British magnate and adventurer, asked several guests, as a manservant scurried off to fetch him another glass of pinot grigio. What he wanted to know was whether his high-powered visitors, among them Larry Page of Google, Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia and Tony Blair, the former British prime minister, thought global warming threatened the planet. Branson does - and so did most of his guests. So on this recent weekend on his private hideaway in the crystalline waters between the islands of Tortola and Anegada, they tried to figure out what to do about it and perhaps get richer in the process.
Some of them, like Page, carbon-consciously jet-pooled in from Silicon Valley, where the financiers who bankrolled the Web boom of the 1990s have started chasing the new "New New Thing": green power. In an era of $100-plus oil, venture capitalists like Vinod Khosla, another invitee, are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into young companies that cook up biofuels and harness the power of the sun. Blair, who is now a senior adviser to JPMorgan Chase, squeezed in a few idyllic days here between assignments (he left early for Jerusalem). Another attendee only sort-of showed up. The Medusa, the 198-foot, or 60-meter, yacht owned by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, was moored off Necker Island all weekend, but Allen never came ashore.
The Caribbean getaway was the brainchild of Richard Stromback, a former professional hockey player who struck gold as a clean-technology entrepreneur. Stromback, the chief executive of Ecology Coatings, joked that a gathering like this might seem nefarious to some people. "In James Bond movies, evil-doers meet in exotic settings to plot the destruction of the planet," Stromback said, puffing on a cigar before dinner one night. But the people here, he said, were plotting to save the planet. So far, however, the hopes and dreams of alternative energy have far outstripped reality. But for Stromback and many of the other participants, a confluence of two powerful forces - soaring oil prices and growing concern over global warming - means the the era of economically viable green power is finally at hand.
Many executives and financiers, including some in attendance at the retreat, have a lot of money riding on global warming. Branson, for example, has invested in a host of alternative energy enterprises, including existing businesses within his sprawling Virgin Group. Khosla, the founding chief executive of Sun Microsystems and one of the most successful venture capitalists in Silicon Valley, has at least 33 investments in "clean tech," including new fermentation technology to make fuel-grade ethanol.
Much of the weekend was spent hashing over ideas in Branson's new open-air yoga pavilion. Talk ranged from the practicality of electric-powered cars to how much money would have to be invested in biofuels to reduce the price of crude to $35 a barrel, a prospect Khosla said was possible within the next 15 years. But the big question that hung over the meeting was whether the nations or the world could ever work together to tackle climate change and emissions of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide. "We have an agreement that there should be an agreement," said Blair, who was dressed in a white polo shirt, blue cargo shorts and sneakers. "But there's no agreement on what that agreement should be." Blair predicted that the United States would soon adopt a so-called cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions, as the European Union has done with mixed success. "I'm a little skeptical that it will work unless it's part of a global deal," he added.
As an alternative, Shai Agassi, the former president of SAP's product and technology group, suggested having companies buy carbon insurance. Insurance companies, after all, price all kinds of risks. "They know how to put a price on it better than the bookies," said Agassi, whose start-up, Better PLC of Palo Alto, California, has been trying to create the infrastructure to operate a countrywide fleet of electric vehicles in Israel. Everyone, it seemed, had some project in the works. Elon Musk, the co-founder of PayPal, talked about his latest project, Tesla Motors, a Silicon Valley company that makes sexy electric sports cars retailing for $100,000. Page has ordered one. D. Hunt Ramsbottom, chief executive of the synthetic fuel technology company Rentech, talked about his plans to make biofuels for airplanes. William McDonough, the designer, showed off pictures of some of his latest projects: a building in Abu Dhabi with solar panels built into the windows, and a Wal-Mart distribution center with an energy-friendly grass roof. And Page, who got married on Necker Island a few months ago, talked about problems that Google had faced in trying get permits to use solar energy.
There was plenty of time for fun and games, of course. After lunch one afternoon, Branson suggested that the entire gang sail off to Mosquito, a nearby island he also owns, aboard a dozen catamarans. He said there was a party over there. Page, an avid kite surfer, struck out alone. One of Blair's security personal trailed behind in a motorboat. As the catamarans beached up on Mosquito, music was blaring and bikini-clad women were dancing. Branson deadpanned, "Normally the girls would be naked, but the prime minister is here."
WHOLE WORLD IN THEIR HANDS? and F*CK OFF LIGHT BULB
Lights out for global warming 'Earth Hour' ("citizens care about climate change"). BBC, Mar 29, 2008
Global-warming Gore the planet PR agent (says skeptics are flat-earthers who think who think moon-landing never really happened). CBS, Mar 28, 2008
Branson and friends seek to save a world 'on fire' (at an island retreat in British Virgin Islands). IHT, Mar 20, 2008
Blair wants climate revolution. BBC, Mar 15, 2008
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for a "global environment revolution" to tackle climate change. Mr Blair is on a visit to Japan to discuss global greenhouse gas targets. In a speech to a meeting of G8 ministers building on the 2005 Gleneagles summit, he stressed the need for a "global deal". He suggested it should be led by the UN and that failure to act on climate change "would be deeply and unforgivably irresponsible". During his visit, organised by Climate Group, Mr Blair is due to meet climate change experts from China, Japan, Europe and the US. He is attempting to guide attempts to secure a deal involving China and the US to slash emissions by 50% by 2050, on the first part of a trip that will also take him to China and India. He said: "Unfortunately the source of the emissions is irrelevant. It is the fact and amount of them that matters. "The UN machinery is valiantly striving to put this deal together. The UN and the UN alone is the right forum to reach the global agreement....Mr Blair, who stood down as prime minister last year, is also a peace envoy to the Middle East Climate Group for the "quartet" of the EU, Russia, the US and UN....
CARBON KING (Economist Strikes Gold In Climate-Change Fight). Wall Street Journal, Mar 13, 2008. Go to CLIMATE-CHANGE CARBON RACKET
Charles says climate-change skeptics are mad (global effort needed to counter climate change). Trinidad Tobago Express. Mar 7, 2008. Go to ROYALLY MAD CLIMATE-CHANGE
INCONVENIENT TRUTH A LIE and SCHOOLS CONVENIENTLY LIED TO
CLIMATE-CHANGE DENIER CREED
TRAFFICKERS IN FOOD
GATES PLANTING STERILE SEEDS
AFRICA AGRO-FUELED FAMINE
BIO-FUEL CRIME AGAINST HUMANITY
BIO-FUEL WAR ON FOOD
GM FOOD = GONE MAD
FOOD AS FUEL STARVES HUNGRY
F*CK OFF LIGHT BULB
DIM WIT LIGHT BULBS
HUMANITARIAN CONCERTS OTHER SIDE
U2 BONO ARCH-ARCH CAPITALIST
KYOTO = KILL YOUR TOMORROWS
WHOLE WORLD IN THEIR HANDS?
NANNY STATE IN DRIVER'S SEAT
BILL GATES IS WATCHING YOU!
BILL GATES BEHIND TELESCREEN
WATER BLOWS WIND OUTA WATER
WINDMILLS ARE GREEN STALINISM
WINDMILLS ON KENNEDY CAPE
DEAD IN THE WATER (documentary on water privatization)
TAKE NOT OUR DAILY BREAD
PUBLIC PRIVATE LAND GRABS
ANTI-NATURE IS ANTI-GOD
THE WATER BARONS
WHO IS MAURICE STRONG? (Custodian of the Planet)
CLONING BIBLE STORY
GREENSPAN FROM JEKYLL ISLAND
INDIAN LAND CLAIMS
WORLD FOOD BANK
LENIN BEHIND ENVIRONMENTALISTS
FACTORY FARMING COVER-UP
GULLIVER ON GM AGRICULTURE (extracting sun-beams out of cucumbers; condensing air into tangible substance)
2.Big Brother and 5.Pyramidal New World Order and 35.The Brotherhood and 10.The Rulers and 14.Scientific Experimentation and 16.MiniTrue and 28.Reality Control
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