The Wrongheaded Rhetoric on Climate Change

Climate change is a problem we need to solve. But the discussion of the problem and its solution has become so bogged down in unquestioned and unquestionable conventional wisdoms, exaggerations, and third rails that the way things are going it will never be solved. Celebrated venture capitalist John Doerr’s new book, “Speed and Scale,” offers a solution, in a way. But it is itself so mired in the swamp of the terms of the discussion that its proposed solutions will go unnoticed and have little impact.

I was immediately drawn to read and review the book when I read the description at It says, “Venture capitalist John Doerr reveals a sweeping – and actionable – plan to conquer humanity’s greatest challenge, climate change.”

Note “actionable” in italics.

This is what drew my attention to the book. I thought it meant that it offered not just calls for pledges, targets, goals, or disclosures; these are the ways most so-called climate change “action” is framed. (It’s gotten to the point where “doing more” to alleviate climate change actually means “promising more,” not doing more.) But I thought the blurb for the book meant it would call for specific actions, not just promises and ambitions.

I’m afraid, though, that the book is not enough of a departure from the extant framework.

Same old, same old

The book has several problems.

It presents the climate change challenge in the usual apocalyptic, all-or-nothing terms.

It muddies the waters by introducing, but not discussing seriously a tangential – and complicated – issue: “accelerating our path to net zero depends on our commitment to equity and justice. We cannot do the first without the second.”