Crank of the Week - November 21, 2010 - Eric Schmidt
Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently concurred with film director James Cameron that people who question the science of anthropogenic global warming are, in their opinions, “criminal.” Cameron, a Crank of the Week laureate, and Schmidt made the comments during a recent on stage conversation at a private event in Silicon Valley. During a two hour “discussion,” the duo of left-coast billionaires had a vacuous interchange in which they predicted that humanity “will have extincted 70% of the species on the planet by the end of the century.” This is another example of how people who can be very smart about some things can be very stupid about others.
It also shows that billionaires hold other people's ideas in contempt. Presumably, Schmidt and Cameron would like to see any scientist who dares to question scientific dogma be prosecuted and jailed. If these clowns were in charge, science would still teach that Earth is at the center of the universe, maggots to form spontaneously on dead meat, and species never go extinct.
“There are people who in my view criminally doubt some of the science,” Schmidt stated, to which Cameron quickly added “I agree, criminally, I agree with that.” Freedom of speech and open scientific inquiry are obviously not highly valued by ether if these mega-rich narcissists. A strange stance indeed, considering both of them made their fortunes using advanced technology.
The intemperate remarks came during a two hour conversation that touched on everything from the technology needs of the upcoming Avatar 2 film to the perils that face the environment if action isn’t taken. The vast majority of the conversation turned toward ecological issues when Schmidt described Avatar as a narrative about the world’s ecology. “Why do you care so much about it?” Schmidt asked Cameron. “What is your responsibility and why are you using your significant perch?” Come on, get a room you two.
Schmidt and Cameron at their 2 hour Churchill Club lovefest.
Schmidt of course, is famous for being one of the founders of high-flying Silicon Valley web search giant, Google. Known as a company that values individual initiative and out of the box thinking, Google encourages innovation among its highly educated work force. This makes the doctrinal intolerance on Schmidt's part even more puzzling. But then, this is not the first time Schmidt has made wacky statements to the press.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal's Holman Jenkins, the Google CEO predicted, apparently seriously, that “every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites.” Technology writers and web critics have called this idea “bizarre” and “unworkable.”
This is also not Schmidt's first foray into environmental and energy policy. In 2008, Google issued the Clean Energy 2030 proposal, which “provides a potential path to weaning the U.S. off of coal and oil for electricity generation by 2030 (with some remaining use of natural gas as well as nuclear), and cutting oil use for cars by 44%.” At least that proposal was based in science and technology, and intended to promote ideas and discussion.
What has caused Schmidt to go off the deep end and agree with Cameron is unknown—perhaps Eric is a bit starstruck with the Avatar director. According to Cameron: “People, we need to evolve mentally and philosophically to something that has never existed before. We need to become techno-indigenous people of an entire Earth, not of a nation, not of a state, but of a planet.”
Neither movie directors nor CEOs are accustom to people disagreeing with them. It was an expressed desire to have a showdown, a wild west shootout, with climate change skeptics that earned Cameron his Crank of the Week. With Schmidt labeling anyone who disagrees with his views on climate change a criminal is seems only fitting that Eric join James among the ranks of whackjob climate change true believers. Congratulations, this Crank of the Week is all yours, Google CEO Eric Schmidt.