Progress Is Ugly

I walked out of my house in LA this morning and was greeted with this sight:

I thought “ugh” and debated picking it up and putting it where it belongs.

I am all for progress and understand that there are costs and benefits with everything.

This post explains how electric scooters can and likely will result in massive reductions in carbon emissions (and that Steve Jobs was a big fan of electric scooters).

With that electricity subtracted, the net amount of mitigated carbon equals 17,130 metric tons. Let’s reduce this number by 20% for people who would have walked and for chargers picking up scooters in their cars. Now we’re looking at a total amount of 13,700 metric tons of CO2 mitigated by not driving a car.That’s the equivalent of taking 105,000 cars off the roads around the world, each day.

That is a big deal. It is really hard for me to be against electric scooters when I see people riding them to work instead of driving or being driven in cars.

But the way electric scooters have been rolled out here on the west side of LA leaves a lot to be desired. I have counted at least five suppliers of electric scooters in my neighborhood. There seems to be no limit on new entrants. And the big product market fit innovation that unlocked electric scooters, the dockless network (which I’ve been a fan of on this blog), is also the cause of much of the “ugliness” of them.

I have no doubt that the electric scooter providers will innovate on the model and the product and figure out how to alleviate many or possibly all of this ugliness over time. But until then we will be picking up scooters from our lawns and sidewalks.

It is no wonder that large swaths of society are getting tired of tech companies, startups, and disruption and are starting to say “no mas.” We in startup land have learned that the winners beg for forgiveness instead of ask for permission. And you won’t find a bigger fan of and promoter of permission-less innovation than me and my colleagues at USV.

If we wait for those in power to grant permission to innovate we won’t get anywhere. Most everyone understands that.

So we end up with ugliness. And that is a big challenge for innovators. Can we innovate a little more beautifully? I don’t know but I hope that we can try. If we don’t, we will see even more backlash than we are seeing now.

#entrepreneurship#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

    1. Susan Rubinsky


      1. Adam Sher

        South Park covers all of the important issues and life lessons 🙂 If only they’d cover CS4All…

  1. Richard

    You argue climate change – I counter safe side walks. When it comes to scooters which matters today! With the irresponsibility of founders and the pandering over the last 5 years in this space and elsewhere, it’s time for the adults in the room (the VCs and board member) to step up! Mendacious.

  2. hungrygardener

    I am wondering if there is anyway to apply permission less innovation to important initiatives such as the Green New Deal? For example upgrading the power grid is an initiative that requires cooperation and coordination at the state and federal level. I live in western northern Virginia that is rural and quite beautiful. Power company wanted to build transmission lines from Western Virginia across Virginia to Norfolk area. Of course everyone was against it similar to outrage against wind turbines off coast of Cape Cod. I believe if this was explained as part of nationwide plan to upgrade the grid from which we would all benefit then some local resistance may be lessened. Wondering if there is way for permission less innovation to apply to chip away at major innovations from which we could all benefit.

  3. Rich Edwards

    Much like the history of the energy sector (among others), this is an example of the innovator not bearing the cost of negative externalities. There is, of course, the element of scale to this, and in this case, the adverse effects are felt very close to the market they serve. There have been some efforts from local licensing to address this, but still, there is still a general unsolved problem of balancing the benefit of less combustion car traffic with essentially having garbage left in front of your house.

  4. awaldstein

    It is ugly and a mess.I agree.And unfortunate and didn’t really need to be like that with a bit of logic and planning.But the upside of these scooters is really astounding.I use them multiple times a day when there.I agree that they are a keeper and implemented with amazing thoughtlessness.

    1. Richard

      What day you upside? Take the bus. Venice and Santa Monica have great public transportation options. Riding a scooter doesn’t make you cool or young.

      1. Donna Brewington White


        1. Richard

          I take buses – no emmisions – all the time. They are timely and reliable. Though they do get too many freeloaders / druggies using them.There is no real real transportation need for scooters – most are taken for leisure. If you use these pesky scooters you could be investing in and supporting public transportation. #Whiteprivilege.*They are 5 municipalities that have bus service in Santa Monica and Venice as well as the metro line.

        2. Richard

          The first time Fred rode a scooter he blogged about it like a child.

  5. Adam Sher

    Why aren’t there docking bays like bike shares have? I rarely see citibikes left around

    1. Bill Seliger

      These are dockless scooters, and many of these companies have or had a dockless bicycle product that resulted in much the same ‘mess’ of bicycles left all over. Citibike (or Divvy here in Chicago) charges an exorbitant fee for unreturned bikes (I believe Divvy is $1200). The challenge here is that the scooters aren’t locked in a dock and it’s difficult to tell if the scooter was left there by the previous registered user or thrown there by some kids.

      1. awaldstein

        nailed it.

      2. Campbell Macdonald

        You all saw the cars “left” sitting on the street, taking up a full lane of traffic with no fee, right?

      3. Adam Sher

        Maybe I don’t “get it” because they’re not in Philly yet. I understand that they’re dockless on purpose but I don’t see the purpose. Philly has a lot of personally owned electric skateboards, scooters, bikes, which no one leaves out. The user demographic for electric scooters and skateboards is young and able-bodied. This seems like a toy for people looking for more toys.

    2. Pete Griffiths

      It’s much better to not have docking stations.The great thing about these scooters is that you can find them anywhere.

      1. kenberger

        and a bit more importantly, leave them anywhere.

    3. Susan Rubinsky

      Docking stations don’t solve critical last mile problems. That’s why everything is going dockless. You get off the train/bus then pick up a bike or scooter and ride it home, where there are no docking stations.

      1. Adam Sher

        What is the last mile problem? How far away does one have to live to benefit from this? Isn’t the point of a city’s walk score to promote walking? So is this for people who are > 1 miles from a public transit station?

        1. Susan Rubinsky

          It’s referred to metaphorically as “the last mile” for people who use public transit. The big question is: “How will people travel from the bus stop to home/work/doctor/grocery/etc?” The “last mile” is a barrier to why a lot of people don’t use public transit. Bike and scooter sharing are becoming a great solution for a lot of people.As you said, walking is a great answer, but there are a lot of people for whom walking is not a great answer — seniors, people with disabilities, moms with kids and a bunch of groceries, etc. Or, maybe the last bus stop is two miles from the doctor’s office. Or, maybe the last mile has no streetlights or sidewalks or is up a big giant hill. You can come up with a lot of scenarios. These are the types of things people in city planning are considering all the time when thinking about solutions.

          1. Adam Sher

            Are the people you mentioned the primary users of dockless scooters?For the use cases you mentioned, an electric smart car (the mini ones) would be a better fit. A parents with kids and groceries isn’t served by a scooter. An older person with mobility issues is likely to be intimidated by an electric scooter. That person would more likely use a tiny electric car that’s speed limited would be more likely.

          2. Adam Sher

            As I said in my response to @billseliger:disqus these seem like a toy for people who want more toys. I’m basing this off of who I see using privately owned ones since there are no dockless items in Philly.

  6. johnbattelle

    I think the real opportunity here is to innovate for beauty, and command a premium – either in pricing, preference, or both. Wouldn’t most consumers prefer a brand that elegantly solved this design problem? I would!

  7. Michael Brill

    I’m pretty sure that’s Mark Suster running away on the opposite sidewalk.

    1. Donna Brewington White

      Ha! Wrong neighborhood. 🙂

    2. Richard

      First rule of the fightclub – never speak a bad word about member of the fight club.

  8. Thor Snilsberg

    Great take, Fred. I know you love urban issues and opportunities like light rail, etc. Ask Nick G. to introduce you to Paul Steely White if you don’t already know him. He is a visionary leader and urbanist who was recently plucked from NYC’s livable street movement to champion eScooters. Ever forward!

  9. falicon

    theoretically there is a data trail here…so seems like the quick/simple solution is to charge a ‘clean up’ fee for anyone that leaves a scooter in a non-desirable location. Anyone that returns it to the proper place (likely the next user) earns that cleanup fee credit to their account….for someone that wanted to hustle, they could then go around and earn a little money just cleaning up these sorts of things (and the tax is on the lazy/inconsiderate)….just a thought.

    1. Michael Brill

      Seems like in a few years, they’ll be able to park themselves in the right place for both safety and optimized accessibility.Maybe this isn’t a problem that needs to be solved right now.

      1. falicon

        I like that!Still – the small business/personal opportunity & money is often in finding a simple way to fill the gap “for now” — just gotta go in knowing it won’t last forever.

        1. Michael Brill

          Seems like a tractable problem if someone really cared – gyros, cameras, beacons, etc.

          1. Michael Brill

            And to be clear, I’m talking about gamification whereby fastidious users are rewarded with tasty lamb sandwiches.

    2. jason wright… money as the motivating mechanism. I find it interesting to observe how that driver of capitalist societies seems to so often go awol when a corporations market penetration begins to cause social and environmental blowback.

      1. Carmina

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    3. Susan Rubinsky

      there is a data trail. Depending on the ordinances of the community, they can geotag specific parking spots and/or fine users for parking the devices in the right of way. Lots of municipalities are getting bombarded with these issues, however, without regulations/ordinances in place to control the vendors.

    4. disqus_eqkwQXWduT

      Maybe there should be a sensor that tells bird when a scooter is on its side. Then pay a small fee to tidy up the birds. Many people picking up birds to charge could align the fallen ones.

    5. kenberger

      good idea… and 1 or both of these provisions are already provided by most of the standup scooter providers (see also my other comment here).

      1. falicon

        Nice – seemed like low hanging fruit, so makes sense that they are already on it! Thanks!

    6. Pete Griffiths

      You may be interested in reading:”The Moral Economy: Why good incentives are no substitute for good citizens”S Bowles.Turns out that such fines (counterintuitively) often have the opposite of the intended effect.

      1. falicon

        Thanks. I am a little familiar with this – I think Texas had similar study around littering that was super interesting.I would say the keys are in the fine amounts as well as being directly tied to the reward amounts. It’s not the system that profits from the tax, it’s the other users directly.Still not perfect solution and many details to iron out to get it right..but seems worth exploring if you are in that market…

        1. Pete Griffiths

          Yes. It is a fascinating area. Very very tricky for policy formulation.There was a case where a school ‘fined’ parents for arriving late with the result that more parents turned up late AND even when they removed the fine the tardiness remained higher than it had been.

    7. B12N

      Yep. This is a problem Singapore faced with rental bikes, so the transport agency here instituted rules and designated parking spaces (which I think now are applied to e-scooters as well). Users are fined $5 every time they park improperly, and have 3 strikes before they’re banned off the system entirely.

  10. kidmercury

    the emissions argument used has significant flaws.1. the power source used to generate electricity is a major determinant in understanding how much carbon emissions are being reduced. is it coal? 2. countries that switch from fossil fuels to solar/wind don’t reduce emissions. those that switch from fossil to nuclear/hydro do save emissions. already you are seeing carbon emissions rise when nuclear usage declines.arguments about not driving to save carbon emissions are focusing on factors with a very small effect size.

    1. Richard

      Yep, the gas to electric equivalent with carbon based electricity generation is 40 mpg.

    2. sigmaalgebra

      In a word, “carbon emissions” are IRRELEVANT. From where did you swallow the sewage that there is ANYTHING threatening about CO2 now or in the future? There is just as much evidence, literally, for the threats of short skirts on young women, use of Windex on kitchen counter tops, gyroscopic toys for children, cooking with soy sauce, etc. The evidence is rock solidly clear: CO2 has had and will have NO measurable effect on climate. The climate of the earth has been driven by volcanoes and astronomical effects, especially sun spots. Anything else is much worse than drinking Drain-o, self-destructive, garbage.It’s long past time to call TOTAL SELF-DESTRUCTIVE BS on the threat of CO2.

      1. kidmercury

        I agree with you, it is mostly just a tax scam, but this issue is religion for many, not science.

  11. Chimpwithcans

    A fine post this one.From an African perspective, it is a constant source of angst in my head to see messiness around me.Africa is a messy place.Often the mess means poverty and a lack of due care. That’s the story that the media tends to pick up on.But, very often messiness is a sign of people working bloody hard, and making a living DESPITE a crappy, corrupt government.A tin shack pops up on the side of the road providing milk, eggs, phone credit and a place to charge batteries. Mess or innovation?

    1. kidmercury

      totally agree. if you are for open innovation, then you have to be for stuff like this. the more you don’t want bikes or tin cans or whatever just randomly lying around, then the more permissions need to be gated in some way. i think most would agree that some kind of balance is needed.

    1. jason wright

      Are those wheel rims smashed?

      1. John Pepper


  12. J. Lightfield

    Most sidewalks like the one depicted are devoid of people walking on them. Are the cars parked at the curb an example of a negative externality caused by the car culture startups of a long time ago?

  13. Tom Labus

    People always think they’ll clean up later on during the party.

  14. Brandon Kessler

    “If we wait for those in power to grant permission to innovate we won’t get anywhere. Most everyone understands that.” <— big caveat here for companies that play fast and loose with our data and create fictional rationalizations like ‘Zuck’s Law’

  15. Simon Heap

    Personally, I’d find it a lot less offensive if it was upright on a kickstand.Simple to engineer although perhaps harder to get users to comply…

  16. jason wright

    so scooters don’t come with airbags as standard? i did not know that.

  17. Mark Rosenblatt

    Agree with all the sentiments. Two adds. First, these small wheeled scooters are pretty dangerous over potholes, speed bumps, or water. I prefer the electric bikes for safety.Second, 105,000 cars worth of carbon is less than rounding error against the billion cars on the road.To actually affect atmospheric carbon via the transportation market we need to open the internal combustion engine to non-oil based alternatives. These fuels, mostly alcohols made from almost anything organic, can mix with or replace gasoline. China and a few others countries pursue this path. We should too.Electric cars are great in the long term, but that really is the long term.

  18. Susan Rubinsky

    Thank you for this post. I’m on the bike share committee for my municipal region here in CT and this ugliness is being considered as we consciously deliberate about how we are going to proceed. Are we going to write highly prescriptive ordinances? Are we going to leave the playing field wide open? Are we going to forge exclusive relationships with specific vendors to help avoid the ugliness but, by the boundaries of that scenario also curtail innovation? Good questions to ask. No easy answers.

  19. Donna Brewington White

    Where I come from, leaving a scooter like this would be considered a lack “home training” vs. a tech problem. Still, a lot of meaningful insight gleaned from what could have just been eyesore for anyone else.That’s why we keep coming back, Fred.

  20. panterosa,

    This was a surprise to me in LA visit 2 weeks ago.But how is this different to how your kids must have left their bikes on your lawn when they were younger (ie. did that bother you)?

    1. TeddyBeingTeddy

      Speaking of, is anyone else very surprised that Fred lives in NYC and actually has lawn? That is so rare, anywhere in NYC.

      1. Amar

        I walked out of my house in LA this morning and was greeted with this sight:That is his LA house. Not saying his NYC digs might not have a lawn 🙂

        1. TeddyBeingTeddy

          Ha! Just realized he said that in his first sentence, my bad…

  21. TamiMForman

    Is there a space between begging forgiveness and asking permission? I think that’s what people would like to see. Community input? I agree with the need for innovation and it ain’t always going to be pretty, but the ire being unleashed by “move fast and break stuff” is not without it’s own (likely negative) consequences. I also think this is an argument for diversity and it’s not the neat “because we’ll make more money answer.” It’s because people with different POV will see — literally! — things differently. I just got a Varidesk. Will be interesting to see how I like it, but on first glance I can tell you that it wasn’t built for a woman who is 5’3″!

  22. Dorian Benkoil

    I would put this in the larger context of an economic system in which businesses at least short-term don’t need to bear the costs they can create for communities in which they operate. Those may come in the form of pollution; global warming; societal divisions; election meddling; or, the much lesser but still irritating issue of scooters scattered on sidewalks.

  23. sigmaalgebra

    An abandoned scooter on a suburban sidewalk is a small thing. Suburbs and especially cities have much more serious problems.ForIt is no wonder that large swaths of society are getting tired of tech companies, startups, and disruption and are starting to say “no mas.”I don’t see that. Wow! How exquisitely, socially delicately SENSITIVE today!Now, Elizabeth Holmeshttps://upload.wikimedia.or…beautiful woman!!!! Take it from me, with my autonomous peripheral processor, 100 THz cycle time, 20,000 core, can class with 99.999% accuracy 500 m away on a moonless night through fog and rain in 2 ns flat, she’s a beautiful woman!But Theranos looks like silly stuff down to irresponsible ditsy bimbo stuff down to dirty, dangerous fraud. No doubt people are tired of that. But snake oil full of vile, toxic sewage goes way back and is much less common now. Instead, professionalism in US medicine is nearly always from good to astoundingly high. And a bit beyond US medicine, I’m prepared to take seriously the claim of a good start on one treatment for all cancers as in…For my startup, I doubt there will be any significant, sincere public objection, e.g., I’m insisting that all the content be “safe for work”, better, family friendly, better, good for children, better, improve the culture of civilization.But there is something much, Much, MUCH, MUCH worse than an abandoned scooter or startup public relations and in the quote today: There is the wack-o, flim-flam, fraud scam of the threat of human generated CO2. There is no, none, nichts, nil, nada, zip, zilch, zero meaningful evidence that any reasonably possible levels of CO2 has ever had or ever will have any significant effect on the temperature or climate of earth. There is as much evidence that short skirts on young women will cause significant climate change, and I for one want no government regulations on skirt lengths! Still, there is a movement, a fad, a tribal charge, apparently very well funded, claiming over and over, as in the Nazi Minister of Propaganda Dr. J. Goebbels “If you tell a lie often enough then people will believe it.” that has NYT, especially the NYT, the quote today, PBS, nearly all of the Democrat party, especially the loudest voices of the Democrats, all screaming about the dangers of CO2. There is as much evidence for the dangers of short skirts — literally.The movement is amazing, that it is possible to sell sewage quite broadly. But, sure, the usual explanations apply: Always look for the hidden agenda. Follow the money. Look for who has the motives.But the downside is that the fraud, scam has already significantly cost the US economy and done serious harm to a lot of poor countries. E.g., a lot of poor country development has been throttled due to the fraud, scam. Very, very “ugly”, dirty business.And now AOC, Kamala, etc. are proposing the Green New Deal: Part of that is to eliminate the use of fossil fuels in the US in 10 years: As at…Ocasio-Cortez Demands 100% RenewableEnergy in 10 Yearswhich would basically stop nearly all wheels from turning and suddenly throw the technology and engineering crucial for the US economy back 120+ years and on the way KILL DEAD 10s of MILLIONS of US citizens and do more damage to the US than ever dreamed of by Tojo, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc., a disaster killing the most people in all of history. And there is just as much evidence for danger from short skirts as for CO2.But there is more: We have significant fractions of the Republican Party and nearly all the Democrat Party looking like BFF of the Mexican drug cartels by fighting Trump’s attempts to secure our southern border. So, Trump’s opponents are fine with the 72,000 US deaths in 2017 from drug overdoses, as in the well done CDC report at…A few numbers from a fast Google search show that the deaths per day compare with those of the US military in WWII and Viet Nam, and the total deaths for 10 years at 72,000 deaths a year totally swamp all US military deaths starting with WWII to the present. Still, we are awash in screaming about The Wall and hard push back via totally evidence-free, groundless, nasty, vile propaganda of insults, nasty accusations, character assassinations, etc. from ABC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, NYT, WaPo, the Oscars, etc.Again, look for the hidden agenda, follow the money, and look for who has the motives. The $250 billion to $500 billion (from Trump) a year to the Mexican cartels looks like plenty of money. Which anti-Trump people, media outlets, etc., have been bought off by the cartels? How much, i.e., what is the going rate?Who still wants to be Green? In public? Are you sure?

    1. Richard

      Zero evidence might be stretching it? CO2 /rising average temps is a reasonable hypothesis? I’m haven’t looked at the data – or the model and it’s assumptions. Could so many climate scientists get wrong. If so, it will go down as the greatest error of all time. Moreover, isn’t smog alone enough of a reason for electric cars? Why produce the smog wher the cars are used the most ?

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Here’s essentially all the evidence:Run a photon past a molecule, and the molecule might absorb the photon. Then the molecule has more energy, has the energy from the photon, and is hotter. But the molecule will absorb the photon only under narrow circumstances.Okay, for CO2, it vibrates, bends, stretches, and twists. Each of these motions corresponds to an energy level and photon wavelength. So, CO2 absorbs photons in three narrow wavelength bands, one for each of the three motions, out in the infrared. As CO2 absorbs such photons, it gets warmer and in the atmosphere will warm it.CO2 doesn’t absorb visible light: Since the energy levels in visible light don’t correspond to any energy levels in CO2, CO2 can’t absorb such light and just lets it pass by.We can see that CO2 doesn’t absorb visible light: To do this, we just exhale and don’t see any trace or effect of CO2. Done.Now the NYT’s Tom Friedman on a late night talk show was wrong: He claimed that CO2 warms the atmosphere because it absorbs sunlight. Well, not really very much since CO2 can’t absorb visible light.A big point of the effect of CO2 is the greenhouse effect where the photons come through the atmosphere, strike the ground, and get absorbed by the ground. Then the warmer ground radiates like anything hot, in physics, like a Planck black (or gray) body. The wavelength of the radiation has a distribution but on average is shorter for higher temperatures. For the current context, the temperature of the ground (water, too) puts the wavelengths out in the infrared. That’s the greenhouse effect: Sunlight gets through the atmosphere or roof of the green house, heats the ground, but the radiation from the ground can’t get out the glass of the greenhouse. And in part the radiation can’t get out due to being absorbed by CO2 in the atmosphere.Fine. That all works. My ugrad physics prof was big on molecular spectroscopy and what gets absorbed by the atmosphere, for a while was measuring, with the blessing of the US Navy, what got absorbed across Chesapeake Bay. Long he had a contract from the USAF reading “To further the technology of the infrared.”. Yup, the USAF got a big time ROI on that — e.g., in Gulf War I.So, the claim is that due to the greenhouse effect, more CO2 in the atmosphere will warm the earth. The claim is that human sources of CO2 will raise the temperature enough to be a disaster and that we must spend anything needed to keep down the dangerous CO2. Thatis, without extra CO2, the infrared that the extra CO2 would absorb might be absorbed by clouds or water vapor a but otherwise would escape into outer space.Okay, but how much extra CO2 causes how much more absorption and how much more temperature? So, to see, just drag out the candidate concentrations of CO2, the CO2 absorption spectra, the Planck gray body radiation spectra, the effects of water vapor and clouds, the flows in the atmosphere from, say, the Navier-Stokes equations of fluid flow, using some work in multi-grid methods from Courant, etc. for computational fluid dynamics to solve the equations, handle parts of physical chemistry, conduction, re-radiation, diffusion, write some software, sign up for some computer time, put in the initial conditions, and calculate forward in time to make the predictions. Sounds good.A lot of people tried some such. Somehow I suspect they didn’t do really well on all the details I outlined. E.g., just the initial conditions will be a challenge. Further, as soon as the calculations move away from the initial conditions, there may be biological, polar, and ocean effects not treated in the software and that, really, we don’t know how to model in sufficient generality, detail, or accuracy.Well, apparently nearly all the some dozens of such modeling attempts predicted much higher temperatures soon. There were lots of headlines.There is a summary of the modeling work in the quite busy graphhttp://www.energyadvocate.c…In small print are the titles of the many studies.Bottom line it: The times of the predicted much higher temperatures came and went without hardly any temperature changes at all. A modeling effort that did about the best would just have done nothing and predicted no changes — easiest possible modeling effort!So, nearly all the modeling efforts flopped, failed, were a grand embarrassment. In general the modelling efforts failed.So what? Here’s what: We want science. Well, a big deal in science is the ability to make predictions that come true. In science, make a prediction that is significantly false and have to junk the candidate science. Science has zero patience with such stuff. In contrast, Einstein used his work on general relativity to predict bending of light due to the gravity of the sun. Soon observations of a solar eclipse permitted testing that. The prediction was confirmed, Einstein got famous. More recently, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) predicted the Higgs Boson and claimed to have found it. The statistical standards used were severe, IIRC 5 standard deviations. Moreover, two separate experiments at the LHC found the same thing. Now the Higgs Boson is accepted as solid physics. In stark contrast, nearly all the modeling efforts in the graph above have to be junked as science.So, for the score card, for scientific evidence, CO2 for warming the planet is 0 successes for 1 big try.So, so far we have no, none, zip, zilch, zero, nichts, nil, nada solid scientific evidence that candidate concentrations of CO2 will cause significant warming or climate change.But wait, there’s more:Long in the news were the efforts of the former next president of the United States, Saint Laureate Al Guru and his movie An Inconvenient Truth. At one time there were copies on the Internet; I downloaded one and believe I still have it, several times in my relatively good file backup system!In this movie, Gore, ah, Guru, got some of the data from some of the Antarctic ice core work. One of the sources may have been the data from Vostok station by the Russians. The data Gore used had time, temperature, and CO2 concentrations. Gore had a huge graph of this data with time on the horizontal axis, increasing from left to right. He plotted both temperature and CO2 concentrations. He claimed that the graph showed that temperature and CO2 concentrations went up and down together. From that he concluded that more CO2 causes, and did cause, the higher temperatures. Then he claimed that CO2 concentrations rising since the start of the Industrial Revolution will be causing disastrous increases in temperature.Alas, Gore and his audience needed some lessons in graph reading: Yes, the graph covered IIRC 800,000 years or so of time. So, on that graph, 800 years was only one part in 1000.Why 800 years? Well, looking at the data carefully:(1) The CO2 concentrations went up about 800 years AFTER the temperatures went up. So, presto, bingo, the higher CO2 concentrations did NOT cause the higher temperatures.(2) It is a good guess that the higher temperatures, from whatever cause, after 800 years resulted in more biological activity and, thus, in more CO2. So, that is an explanation of the higher CO2.(3) Yes, the graph also showed the temperature falling, from whatever cause. But the CO2 concentrations did not precede the lower temperatures. So, the lower temperatures were not caused by lower CO2 concentrations. And, the high CO2 concentrations did not keep the temperatures from falling.Net, from the graph Al Guru put up, apparently CO2 has no observable or significant effect on temperature. As in my description of the greenhouse effect, we do expect that CO2 will do some warming, but from 800,000 years of changes and temperature and CO2, apparently the effect of CO2 is too small to see and, in reality on earth, has nothing at all significant to do with temperature.Then screaming out is the question, what the heck did cause the temperature changes? Well, in short, the “good leads” are volcanoes and astronomical effects. One of the astronomical effects is a long period thingy about the orbit of earth. Over shorter times, e.g., decades or centuries, the effect is changes in the rates of sun spots. This astronomical data fits the temperature data surprisingly well; CO2 concentrations don’t fit the temperature data at all well.Over the near term, in the last few thousand years we have had two significant warm periods, warmer than now, and for both there is no hint that CO2 was the cause.There was ice in the Delaware River when Washington crossed due to The Little Ice Age. It really was colder, There had been three years of crop failures just before the French Revolution. Napoleon’s walk back from Moscow encountered the same thing. Well, there had been some decades of a much lower rate of sun spots.Why do sun spots affect temperature? Here’s the theory (and it does fit well with a lot of data): Sun spots generate solar wind particles. They flow out from the sun in all directions, 3D. Also coming in from all directions 3D, are cosmic rays. Cosmic rays that hit water molecules in the upper atmosphere generate water droplets and, thus, clouds which have a net cooling effect. More solar wind collides with more cosmic rays, in a huge sphere with center at the sun, and, thus, reduces cosmic rays hitting the upper atmosphere of earth, creates fewer clouds, and has a net warming effect. That’s the theory, and apparently it fits the data well.Warning: IIRC, there has long and often been an 11 year cycle to the rates of sun spots. If the cycle holds now, we are in for a few years of fewer sun spots and, thus, cooler weather.One more is since WWII: Although there was a lot of CO2 generated in WWII and its recovery, we actually had some significant cooling from about 1944 to about 1970. So, higher CO2 didn’t cause warming. The cooling was from fewer sun spots, and the higher CO2 didn’t stop the effect of the sun spots.Net, for the temperature of the earth, there is no, none, nichts, nil, nada, zip,, zilch, zero meaningful evidence that anything like reasonable CO2 concentrations have any significant effect at on the temperature of the earth. There really is the greenhouse effect, but all the observational data indicates that the effect is too small to measure given the noise of other effects.For public policy, f’get about any danger from CO2. We shouldn’t spend even 10 cents to try to control CO2. To spend $trillions to control CO2 is wack-o, uninformed, misinformed, ignorant, anxiety driven, hysterical, against The Enlightenment, The Age of Reason, rationality, science, the data, common sense and dangerous and destructive. Such expenditures would be a severe shot in the gut of the US, create massive suffering and death in the poorer countries, and a disaster for civilization, The effort to have the US give up on fossil fuels in 10 years would cause nearly all wheels to stop turning, throw US infrastructure, engineering, productivity, and the economy back 120+ years and along the way kill a major fraction of the US population, kill 10s of millions of US people, be the largest source of death in all of human history, be worse damage to the US than ever dreamed of by Tojo, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc. and be one heck of a cause of WWIII and nuclear disaster. Yet, that is just what Kamala, AOC, Fauxcahontas, Gillibrand, nearly all of the Democrats, much of the media, etc. are asking for. More generally the NYT, nearly all the media, PBS, etc. are still assuming that CO2 is dangerous and calling for reducing CO2 — dumb, dumb de dumb dumb, dumb. Dangerous. Destructive. Brain dead. Just plain STUPID. One heck of a triumph of propaganda pushed by some special interests.There is no more meaningful evidence that CO2 will cause global warming than short skirts will cause global warming. The CO2 scam is massive public insanity.There is more on the data, fitting of the data, and the sun spots, along with the politics and more inThe Great Global Warming Swindleat…Since it’s mostly just a video documentary, it’s short on references and does not show the data in fine detail. There are some rough edges. It’s not perfect. But it has a lot of really important stuff, e.g., from Lindzen and the role Thatcher played and is far, FAR better than what the alarmists have for CO2.Bottom line: F’get about CO2. Gas up your 700 HP car, do a big burn-out, and have fun.For more: Ignore all the alarmist media that has lied to us so seriously for so long — let them go out of business. Let the alarmists go the way of Governor Moonbeam, Bullet Train to Nowhere, big annual forest fires, smoking funny stuff, etc. No more renewable energy subsidies. Shutdown the wind farms and save the birds and bats. To heck with solar panels. Go ahead and let the poor countries use fossil fuels to develop. Drill, baby, drill!!!! Get going on nukes for the electric grid.Send Kamala, AOC, Fauxcahontas, Gillibrand, etc. back to pre-school.Get on to solving some real problems: Homelessness, especially for veterans; crumbling US infrastructure; the fraction of the labor force still unemployed; the foreign trade deficit; cases of wasteful spending in our health care system; the rotting central cities; the illegal drug problem; the standard of living so low that the birth rate is so low that we are going extinct; the challenge of young families to afford a house; the problem of bringing in immigrants as slave labor or to keep down earnings for US citizens; the military threats from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea; the too much money spent on US military bases in foreign lands; the far too big role of special interests in US politics; having US education do more for the students and the US economy; etc.

        1. Greg Gentschev

          It’s a well known fact that the length of a comment is inversely correlated with its trustworthiness.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Since your claim is “well known”, surely you have several solid references with good evidence of your claim. Since that is an interesting claim, can we see the best three references?But with your claim the shortest post would be the best, e.g., the relatively short1 = 0should be one of the most “trustworthy”.Moreover, for all the work I’ve done on my startup to find ways to have the meaning of Internet content, including text in posts, it is astounding that such good progress could be made looking only at length!Or, given a “trustworthy post”, append 1 = 110**100 times for a relatively long post just as “trustworthy”. So, we have a contradiction to your claim.If you DO have a trustworthy post, then let us see it!If you have trouble with my posts, then maybe a local community college could give you a remedial course in reading.In addition with a course in reading comprehension, you could see that my posts are to save the US from throwing away tens of $trillions and killing tens of millions of US citizens. Or maybe you find the short quote I gave of AOC about stopping fossil fuels in 10 years “trustworthy”?Or maybe you are still at the gullible third grade level and still find the NYT Greenies “trustworthy”?Here at AVC you can join with some of the adults.

  24. Richard

    Venice – raise your taxes and fix your f-in sidewalks to make them ADA compliant. Hypocrites !

  25. Glenn Whitney

    Most cars parked on the street aren’t shiny new Teslas. I find the many cars parked on the street to be ugly. I especially find it ugly to breathe the air around these cars when they are running.

  26. Pointsandfigures

    friend of mine rode one, blew out his collarbone….I am not sure I am excited for them to come to northern climates, where there is ice and snow (and heavy wind which you don’t take into account on a scooter)By the way, when I read the title of this post and saw the sidewalk I thought it was going to be about straightening sidewalks..

  27. Greg Gentschev

    I’m all for messy innovation. My only quibble is with the idea that removing the equivalent of 100,000 cars from the road is going to do anything meaningful. There are about 1.2 billion cars on the road, heading to 2 billion. Scooters are great for convenience, but at the scale of the article you link to, they unfortunately won’t really change the carbon picture.

    1. Matt Kruza

      Thank you for the common sense reply… the numbers were a little hazy (not sure if some how 105,000 cars globally was the total worldwide potential, but I took it the same way as you), but always annoys me when big numbers are thrown around but are utterly meaningless without context. I guess the message wouldn’t sell as well if it was put this way:imagine you have 20,000 cars. We will take ONE off the road, please trumpet our idea! (and i agree scooters are pretty cool and good idea btw)

    2. jason wright

      Isn’t the autonomous car going to change those numbers dramatically? The present inefficiency of distribution and usage will be solved(?) by not owning a car by simply calling one up when a journey is required. Most of the time most cars are parked up doing nothing. That’s nuts.

    3. Matt Zagaja

      I’m currently training for my first marathon and I will say that every step, no matter how little, is meaningful as long as it brings me closer to the finish line.

      1. Greg Gentschev

        I wouldn’t train for a marathon by running a block a week. Your mileage may vary.

  28. Yb927

    Fred: I hate to sound like a bloody sycophant But… you are amazing. 15 years in and you’re still telling it like it is. And that’s a wonder to behold. How do you do it? You are so successful and so rich and still can reflect so clearly on real world issues that concern the common man and with (seemingly) no bias. It’s a wonder to behold and a huge service to the (tech) community at large.And you’re right: Can’t technological and business innovation be more thoughtful? More respectful? More (gasp) humane? If we think that we didn’t have a part in enabling the Trump with the greed and heartleness and singular focus on returns – we’re wrong!!!! Finding a scooter dumped on your doorstep is the physical manifestation of that and just a facet of the lack of caring Maybe the next step is to incorporate into the USV manifesto HUMANITY. Continue to change the world. You have the power to.

  29. kenberger

    This sort of mess/problem has actually been attempted to be covered already as part of the business model: collectors are paid to collect these, charge them up, and place them, via incentives. Such collectors have been profiled in various media pieces, easy to google.Maybe time and efficiencies need to kick in to avoid further counter picture proof, such as in this post.

  30. JaredMermey

    When the bits we move are in the physical world, the ugliness is much easier to see.

  31. Pete Griffiths

    I can’t help reflecting on the industrial revolution – those black satanic mills – and on the chaos of urbanization and industrialization in the ‘third world’ and think that we have it pretty good.Scooter on sidewalk = first world problem.

  32. Terry J Leach

    So far we have not had many if any start-ups that have created what I call, “Bicycles for the mind”. I think creating opportunities for new skills will go along way helping the promotion and acceptance of permission-less innovation.

  33. Matt Zagaja

    What if instead of laying in the street, these were in the rented trunks of Uber/Lyft cars that could be summoned to you via the app? Ride share drivers get paid extra money for that real estate and potentially drop-off/pick-up of the units that could also charge while in the trunk. You still docklessly drop it off at your destination but soon after it is swooped up by an otherwise unoccupied Uber driver.Otherwise we would need to compel building owners to build infrastructure for scooters the way we do for automobiles. Instead of parking minimums new developments could have scooter/bicycle minimums. Maybe a tax on scooter companies that we then use to subsidize a retrofit of existing building infrastructure.

  34. Moe Abbas

    self driving scooters on very low MPH overnight to docking stations.

  35. Justin Roff-Marsh

    I don’t think fines are the direction of the solution.All innovation is ugly, at least viewed from someone’s frame of reference.I have four hideous garbage bins that I have to lug out to the curb on Monday night and return Tuesday morning. But I don’t hate the bins and I don’t feel compelled to vandalize my neighbors’. In fact, I suspect if the garbage truck returned my neighbor’s bin to the middle of my driveway, I’d dutifully wheel it back to where it belonged without a second thought.I think the direction of the solution is to get folks to value these scooters. And the best way to get folks to value them is to compel them, somehow, to ride them!It only takes one ride to develop a visceral understanding that the scooter is a thing of significant value and not a piece of garbage.

  36. samholland00

    the two companies in sf, scoot and skip, require riders lock up their scooter to a pole, bike rack, etc. this really cuts down on the side walk blockers and makes it more in line with cyclists.

  37. jason wright

    and not forgetting the once oxygenating but now decapitated tree. a sad sight. I saved a tree from the chopping tendencies of a neighbour late last year by requesting and getting a TPO (Tree Preservation Order) from my local council. Personal intervention is the ‘atomic unit’ that can shift the momentum of all of these issues. We are just not encouraged to realise that we do have the super power of choice.

  38. awaldstein

    There is not one plan or one solution in my opinion.I think it needs to be solved from the top down and bottoms up.Scooters are a natural dockless solution for that area. i use them a lot and solve a ton of problems.Tech companies are to blame as is the municipality. I think the municipality more though.This is fixable piece by piece.

  39. Donna Brewington White

    If I knew you were commenting more regularly I’d have been back sooner.

  40. JamesHRH

    Two words – Nu Clear.

  41. samholland00

    private sector moves inherently faster than public. i could see a situation where they partner with local transportation entities to provide a method of “public transit”

  42. awaldstein

    i think it is definitely part of it for certain.back when they put citibikes in barcelona i remember they gave you a bonus if you biked docks at the top of the hill by the Gaudi park.made sense that those types of behavioral economic things should be there.really hard to communicate about them though.

  43. Adam Sher

    The app could suggest optimal parking spots for the scooters based on your location. If you park in the desired zone, you get use credits., You could provide tiers. Tier 1 – park neatly; Tier 2 – park in a locally central area; Tier 3 …

  44. jason wright

    One word – France.

  45. jason wright

    Fred could do something about that tree. The personal choice ”wheelhouse’.

  46. JamesHRH

    With no nuclear accidents and 70% of its power provided by Nu Clear?

  47. JamesHRH

    0 deaths.40 years ago.

  48. JamesHRH

    VCs disagree with you. Lots of new tech being worked on.Your dismissal of new systems is illogical Captain.

  49. JamesHRH

    Hahahahaha.Personally, I prefer my energy to be provided whenever I want it.I bet we can agree that my fellow Canucks are doing great work here –… .

  50. JamesHRH

    Yes, but what if you mined the uranium in ultra northern Canada, and ran electric trains carrying monster grid level salt batteries down to urban areas.Did you know that there was a town called Uranium City in my home province?…If you are wondering, the edge of civilization is where the highway lines end on the map to the right side. The place where I take the pictures of the 18 point bull elks or wolves and other wildlife, which is in a national park and at least an hour by car of any place with more than 10,000 people…….is at the top of the highway lines.