The following people were on the panel:
Dean Kamen, President, DEKA Research and Development
Elon Musk, Chairman and CEO, Tesla Motors and CEO and CTO, SpaceX
J. Craig Venter, Chairman and President, J. Craig Venter Institute
Alan Murray, Deputy Managing Editor and Executive Editor, Online, The Wall Street Journal
I've included the full video which includes these IMPORTANT points below:
- Dean Kamen: You're looking at a 21st century problem with a 19th century mindset. You're assuming it's all going to be what fixes cars in this country. If all the passenger cars in North America stopped tomorrow, they would have a 2% impact on greenhouse gases globally. The amount of methane gas coming off of cows in India and China, since methane by itself (CH4) is 21 times as bad for the environment as the C02, that's the byproduct of burning gasoline. Once you multiply it by 21 times, there's more greenhouse gas coming out of methane, coming out of those cows. Fortunately, until the 21st century almost nobody used as much energy, but the assertion that there's this tiny rounding error of the global population are going to start driving Prius' to solve the problem is like swatting at flies when we're going to get trampled by the elephants. The right question is there are 7 billion people out there now, most of whom have essentially never used electricity and don't have cars and they live on a buck or two a day. If all those people have the outrageous goal over the next 30 years of doubling - they want to live on 2 to 3 dollars a day, most of what that money will buy is power, energy and clean water. If those people do it the way we did, it doesn't matter what we do. All the stuff you're talking about would be like swatting at the flies while we're going to get trampled by the elephants. We have to come up with a way to make sure that the 7 billion people find a way better way to make, store, distribute, and use energy.
- J. Craig Venter: There's no single answer. The problem is such a magnitude of scale we've never dealt with before we need hundreds of answers. 11 years from now we're going to have 8 billion people on the planet. We're adding a billion people every 12 years so we need some solutions fast because we've never had this scale of increases in the population. We have to change how we produce food. Getting rid of the cows would be just as good as getting rid of coal and oil and probably as important because all the amount of fertilizer and water to make a kilogram of beef is not sustainable as 8 billion people start to change their standard of living. Farming, agriculture, using animals as a source of food has to be done away with as soon as possible.
- Elon Musk: Normally I think the market functions well and subsidies are not good, however, when you have a tragedy of the commons problem. Another example would be International Fishing Stocks where there's no ownership of a particular fishing zone because its in international waters then everybody goes nuts and fishes the stock to extinction. That's a classic Tragedy of the Commons Problem. Now we've got this issue where there's some CO2 capacity of the oceans and atmosphere beyond which severe damage will be done to the world and its not entirely clear what that threshold is but we're rolling the dice. In this case the Tragedy of the Commons is the Whole Planet. This is why it seems like an unwise thing to do to play Russian Roulette with the Whole Planet. And we've got only one planet right now. The ideal thing to do would be to tax CO2. That would actually be the best thing, but taxes are difficult to implement. Rather than do the right thing which is to put a tax on CO2, we're doing an indirect thing which is to subsidize electric cars to some degree and other renewables.
- J. Craig Venter: I agree with what you just said...I think putting a price on carbon whether its for fuels or cows, it has to be across the board for everything we do. I think without that there's never going to be a serious set of inventions that have economic and global impact. If we're successful and produce fuels that start to replace oil, that drops the price of oil and that becomes a downward cycle where we can never compete.
- Elon Musk: In order to affect a change that's really going to make a difference in the world, you have to actually start now and grow that change quite rapidly. In order for that change to manifest itself.. to get to a 50% renewable situation in 10 years, we have to push very hard right now. People are really not good at taking action.
- J. Craig Venter: Fuel = Food = Water. If any of these changes that look like their coming, the prediction for California in 50 years is half the water because there's half the snowfall in the Sierras, what happens to California Agriculture with half the water when there's already a water problem? We have to solve every part of the equation. We have to change our source of food because if we have half the amount of water, we can't deal with agriculture, farming, the way we're raising cattle the way we're doing it... We have to change how we produce food and where those sources are. We have to do something across the board or we're going to really be facing some tough challenges as we keep adding 1 billion people every 12 years.
Here is Part 2 of this article for reference: Video: Charlie Ayers WSJ ECOnomics 'You Shouldn't Have To Be Wealthy To Eat Healthy'