An inconvenient truth about venture capital

Al Gore aims to save the world as a partner at Kleiner-Perkins. But Manhattan Energy Projects don't grow on Silicon Valley trees

Published November 13, 2007 12:35AM (EST)

So Al Gore is now a partner at Kleiner-Perkins, the legendary venture-capital firm. And according to Fortune Magazine, he's thinking big!

"What we are going to have to put in place is a combination of the Manhattan Project, the Apollo project, and the Marshall Plan, and scale it globally."

But at another point in the same article, Gore says "We all believe that markets must play a central role."

O.K. What do the Manhattan Project, Apollo project and the Marshall Plan all have in common?

The "market" was not the prime mover in their success. The federal government of the United States conceived these projects, funded them, and changed the world by executing them successfully.

How the World Works wishes the best of luck to Al Gore in his new gig. Shower money like rain on all the deserving greentech startups out there and maybe one of them, or a baker's dozen, will hit the jackpot and save our asses from climate change and peak oil. But it's not going to happen without the U.S. government playing a central role, whether that means instituting a carbon tax, setting up a cap-and-trade system with teeth, or funding energy research and development that scales globally -- the kind of thing no VC firm, no matter how big its pockets, can dream of doing.

If Gore really wanted to put together a combo atomic-bomb-space-program-rescue-Europe-from-the-devastation-of-war program, maybe he should have dared something drastic, like, I dunno, running for president again.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

MORE FROM Andrew Leonard

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Al Gore Environment Global Warming Globalization How The World Works