John Doerr’s Tears

When the world falls apart some things stay in place
She takes off the Four Tops and puts it back in its case
When the world falls apart some things stay in place
Levi Stubbs’ tears.
— “Levi Stubbs’ Tears”, Billy Bragg (from Talking with the Taxman About Poetry)

In what was may have been one of the strangest moments at TED in Monterey, an admittedly often strange conference, venture capitalist John Doerr apparently cried yesterday at the end of a speech about climate change. In the talk he repeatedly said “I’m afraid”, and then closed by begging emotionally for people and companies to go green:

So, Doerr pleads with the TEDsters: Go carbon neutral, lobby governments, and most of all, use your personal power to take your businesses and your institutions green. Then come the tears. “If we do, I can look forward to the message I can have with my daughter in 20 years.” And he walks off [the stage].

Oh my. Assuming this is correct — and if any readers are there, please let me know — then to borrow a Jon Stewart-ism, uncomfortable.

[via Epicenter]


  1. Why are some people so arrogant as to think that everything happening to/on earth is caused by the last hundred years of human activity, when people have only been here AT ALL for a few 10s of 1000s of years of the 5 billion that earth has existed? No matter how good your car’s mileage is (even if you ride a bike and mothball all of America’s smokestacks!), the earth will go on (or not) warming and cooling as it has since it first formed as a planet.

  2. One Way Stox says:

    Holy Crap!!
    does he cry when it rains, too, or does he cry when it gets too hot? Does he start to shake in fear whenever he sees a cloud?
    “If we do, I can look forward to the message I can have with my daughter in 20 years.” Puh-leeze!!
    In 20yrs, the counter culture movement will have something new for you to cry about.

  3. He’s the Bill Walsh of VCs.

  4. wow, who led the morons out? climate change deniers are so tiresome.

  5. Mr. Rothfuss, the point is not to deny that the climate changes. The point is that it’s been changing in both directions for billions of years and will continue to do so (in both directions) regardless of economic output activity by humans. Personally, I’d rather have some VCs focus on ways to profitably get food and drinking water to the starving millions in Africa than whether I should buy a Toyota Prius or a Porsche or set my home thermostat a couple of degrees warmer in the Texas summer. I’ll try harder to be less of a moron for the rest of the day though.

  6. Yeah, it’s too bad a funny post had to draw all the bozos out. worth, when you ask why “some people” are so arrogant, I assume you mean “some people” to include 99% of the scientific community? Cuz it does.
    Your comment is meaningless. You’re suggesting that global warming is not real because, well, it just couldn’t possibly be real. No way. No how. Just couldn’t happen. Yawn. Get a clue.

  7. I appreciate the comments on this post, and I understand that climate change apparently bring out a lot of passion in people, but let’s keep the personal attacks to a minimum. Thanks.

  8. Global warming and climate change are a bit science and a bit religion, apostates and heretics will burn before this is all over…

  9. Crying makes me uncomfortable, yes. But my nephew, studying molecular biology at Carleton U in Ottawa, took a course in climate change from Tim Patterson there. You can google Patterson and make your own conclusions. But my nephew just rips the Global Warming argument a la Patterson. Me, I just listen. I got burned by the Club of Rome in the early seventies, so I am skeptical by default. But I would say Doerr’s tears can’t match my nephew’s vehemence.
    And I am glad Doerr is not being vehement and my nephew being weepy. That would be worse! :-)

  10. “climate change deniers are so tiresome.” That’s right stay right in your bubble. Don’t confront messy embarassing facts that conflict with your beliefs. It must be so comfortable to close out opposing points of view.
    Why is it you liberals are all for free speech except when it’s a conservative speaking?

  11. “Why is it you liberals are all for free speech except when it’s a conservative speaking?”
    Rick, how is the fact that somebody finds you tiresome in any way infringing on your freedom of speech? It’s totally legimate for him to find you tiresome or disagree with you, or vice versa. Don’t be so overly sensitive.
    Why is it even a partisan controversy? The fact is that I have no expertise in the subject and don’t know whether global warming is really happening or not, and neither do you, Rick. But we’ll all have to live on this Earth, so I’m surprised so many people are so hostile to the idea.

  12. One Way Stox says:

    I don’t want to speak for Rick, but I’ll chime by saying that “man-made global warming is the stupidest thing the counter culture movement has ever tried to get over on us”.
    –will ‘man-made glbl wrmng’ produce more clouds, or fewer?
    –sea levels haven’t risen in 30yrs., in fact, they’re supposed to rise 10-20 centimeters every 100yrs, but rose less than 2cms b/t 1900-yr2000.
    –Co2 levels rose dramatically b/t 1940-1970, yet temps dropped
    –as the Earth emerged from past interglacial periods, the planet would actually become much warmer than it is today. What’s wrong?
    –if Gore/Hillary wants to drive Big Oil out of biz, how do you think they’re gonna make up for the ONE QUARTER of a TRILLION DOLLARS that XOM, BPA, CVX, & COP pay in income tax to the US Treasury every year? Not to mention the 20-cents/gln in excise tax, or the gas tax that some states impose? & what are ya gonna do about the 1MM workers in those four corporations?
    glbl wrmng=y2k -’90s
    glbl wrmng=killer bees – ’80s
    glbl wrmng=the coming ice age – ’70s
    if ELF=Terrorist

  13. OM,
    The difference between us is that I have studied both sides, I read Earth in the balance when it first came out. Most proponents of global warming I speak with have only heard one side of the argument. When they put down opposing arguments with “denier” and “tiresome” it’s proof that they’re not willing to engage in a honest debate.
    When I was in college man made pollution was supposed to be causing a new ice age. Then the temperature numbers reversed themselves as Stox stated and all of a sudden it was global warming instead.
    The global cooling people didn’t want honest debate either ;

  14. You may think a belief in global warming would lead to a change in lifestyle. Au contraire. As I write this, my wife is watching a DVD on our flat screen TV home theater system, I am watching FoxNews streamed to my PSP through my location free player, and it has been unseasonably hot so, we have turned on the air conditioner. Also, we have returned from shopping at Wal-Mart in our SUV. Does my energy consumption make me feel guilty? Not in the slightest. I, like Al Gore, have purchased carbon offsets. In my case, I bought shares in an utility that has promised to not build 11 coal fired power plants. They won a seal of approval from an environmental organization.
    Al Gore buys his carbon offsets from Generation Investment Management LLC and he is an officer in this corporation. He is buying offsets from himself. Global warming is a wonderful thing.

  15. One Way Stox says:

    Jwk44, you’re welcome to a seat at my table any time brother.
    p.s. — anyone see the cover of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED this week? It’s a shot of Florida Marlins pitcher standing on the mound of the team’s stadium in Miami KNEE-DEEP IN WATER!!
    The caption reads “As the Planet Changes, So Do the Games We Play–Time to Pay Attention”
    talk about JUMPING THE SHARK!!

  16. One Way Stox says:

    NY TIMES PLANS TUESDAY HIT ON GORE, NEWSROOM SOURCES TELL DRUDGE: ‘Scientists argue that Gore’s warnings are full of exaggerated claims and startling errors’… Developing…

  17. Queensbury says:

    Y. 2. K.

  18. Y2K spending was very healthy for the tech industry–until it stopped. Likewise Gore’s folly could be good for science when it isn’t being hijacked by the socialist luddites.

  19. John Doerr’s tears before peers depressing TED might possibly emote from that day’s WSJ Lead Article about myCFO’s “AWESOME” tax dodge, that he and others are dodging responsibility for.
    Curious coincidence: the same Front Page Wall Street Journal WSJ News Article on myCFO — was then (and still is) blocked (censored) from Google “News” Search…

  20. the article truly should continue with [the stage and promptly boards one of his 2 private jets; while wiping the tears from his face he asks his pilots for a high speed cruise to his destination (which he is known to do despite an already egregious gesture of a single man’s ‘carbon footprint’)].
    I have no problem with private jets…if I had the money i would be the first guy in line to buy one. But for him to come out and cry about the environment like this, saying “I don’t think we are going to make it” is irrational at best, and offensively hypocritical first and foremost.

  21. I’ve run the numbers and have a simple and low-cost solution to global warming. Anyone crying over global warming is too emotional.
    A solution to global warming

  22. The only practical thing I can do in my full capacity of verbal powerlessness (the man who didn’t change the world), are the following four things:
    1. Google “India China Global Warming” and contemplate the irony
    2. Watch “Mars Attack” and base all my predictions about the future on a Hollywood movie
    3. Contemplate how visible the Planet Earth is in context of the entirety of the multi-dimension universe and then write a five line blog that defines Quantum Physics
    3. Live my personal life as intelligently as I can (which is probably the only thing I will do that actually makes any difference, I guess if I eat less, I will emit less personal global gas)

  23. I’m surprised it takes a VC to cry before people start listening to these issues.
    We’ve heard scientists talk about these issues for half a decade and it doesn’t cause a stir in anyone.

  24. biofuels from algae…..way more productive per acre than any other crops….50 times..NERL research was de funded due to political pressure 1996…. Thanks AL GORE….algae can be up to 80% oil at certain times…harvested daily…grown in the desert…needs the equivelent of 2% of currently cultivated farmland to replace all US transportation fuels.
    Chlamydomonus Reinhartii….and to all a good night.