Gov. Moonbeam Finds Friends at ECO Conference

Security was tight as California Gov. Jerry Brown made a cameo appearance at Wednesday’s start of the annual ECO:nomics Conference at the Bacara Resort and Spa in Goleta.

The Democratic governor has some newfound supporters among Republicans because of his fiscal policies in his third term as the state’s chief executive, but he had even more backers in Goleta on Wednesday who praised him for his environmental polices of almost three decades ago.

“These guys are the optimists,” Brown said from his seat in the 200-member audience. He was talking about a panel that consisted of Dean Kamen, DEKA Research and Development president, Elon Musk, chairman and CEO of Tesla Motors and CEO and chief technical officer of SpaceX, and J. Craig Venter, chairman and president, of the J. Craig Venter Institute.

Brown was scheduled to speak Friday at the fifth annual Wall Street Journal-sponsored confab on en energy, economics and climate change, but he was prompted by the panel’s moderator after Venter talked about needing “disruptive technologies” that might force change in the way the world allows carbon and methane emissions, which are blamed for climate change.

“I don’t know if we should wait for some disruptive event,” Brown said. “That sounds kind of spooky.”

Venter said the world has to change the way it makes energy and the way it makes food. “Fuel equals food equals water,” he said, noting that the world’s supply of fresh water is diminishing. “Farms are the most inefficient systems we have,” he said, because of how much energy and water they consume and because of how much pollution they produce.

“I’m a big believer in markets,” Musk said. “The best thing to do is tax (carbon dioxide),” a chief cause of climate change. He said he believes the world “is a great place and it’s getting better … but let’s not be complacent.

Musk said the cost of solar panels is dropping from $4 a watt not long ago to about $1 per watt now.

However, he said, “India eventually will put more cars on road than the United States doubling the need for fuel and causing more rapid climate change.”

Compared to last year’s conference, audience members seem more amenable to curbing c carbon emissions and taking other step to help the environment.

Thursday night, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates is scheduled to speak on that very topic.

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