My environmentally minded friends always joke about “Eco-Rockstars” – the big names in the environmental movement we all drool over: your Hunter Lovins, Adam Werbach, and Shai Agassi. We line up to see them speak but their names would fall on deaf ears at the RNC. The Clean Tech Forum took the idea of Eco-Rockstars to a new level with 20 foot projection screens on each side of the presenters and spotlights that danced over the balding heads in the audience between speakers.
This is the biggest gathering of clean tech investors and entrepreneurs in the world, and it’s pretty clear when you walk in the door that everyone is there to fund and be funded. If you can make it in the door, you know you’re in the right place. The Executive Chairman of the Forum, Nick Parker, opened with a call to action, reminding the audience of the dire situation we find ourselves in: the economic crisis, ecological collapse, and the ‘insecurity crisis’ aka the separation between the haves and the have-nots. He issued a call to action, reminding the audience that we didn’t have to answer a call to arms and pick up an AK-47 like prior generations, we merely had to make money off of solving the world’s challenges.
Despite my capitalist leanings that call gave me pause – did Mr. Parker mean that we should dance on the graves of dead bald eagles? But further on in his presentation he made it clear that he is genuinely concerned about the environment and sees the efficiencies and innovation capability of the clean tech sector as the best solution we have. He discussed the great garbage patch for nearly 10 minutes and stuttered through a visibly discomforting discussion of the lowered sperm count he faces as a male in the 21st century.
Most conference keynote addresses give you a reason to graze over the leftovers on the breakfast table. This one made me sad that I had to sneak out and head back to my day job. Don’t worry – coverage doesn’t end here! We’ll be bringing you features on some of the most innovative and exciting companies present at the conference through the rest of this week and next.