khosla.bmpThere’s a notable Q&A with venture capitalist Vinod Khosla in the Mercury News today.

VentureBeat has written plenty about Khosla lately – he is at the heart of a massive expansion of Silicon Valley investments into clean technology, and of a campaign to raise a tax on California oil. He’s become a lightning rod for an oil industry hoping to snuff his efforts. We’ll continue to point out the relevant developments on this front.

He is also a man of extraordinary drive and good insight, even if some critics say he’s too optimistic about the potential for biofuel breakthroughs. The whole interview is worth reading, but here are two quotes that caught our attention:

Q: Are you a scientist at heart?

A: At heart, I’m a techie nerd. [Laughs] I love science because it’s a huge multiplier of resources. You need the right policy. You need the right market environment. But the one thing that multiplies resources by a factor of 10 is science. It has the potential to do something not 10 percent better or 20 percent better but 100 times better, and that power is what’s so exciting to me.

Q: You’ve said that largely because of our dependence on oil, what was earlier a global warming problem has become a climate crisis. But there is some dissension on that point, too.

A: When it comes to our planet, some scientists will say there is a 90 percent probability that we’re going to have a meltdown. Others say there’s a 20 percent chance. But at least 99 percent of the scientists believe that there’s a 20 to 90 percent chance that in the next 50 years we’re going to have a meltdown, meaning irreversible damage. Most people will insure their home if there is less than a 1 percent chance of a fire. Why not apply the same metrics to our planet?

Speaking of global warming, there’s a good summary by the Mercury News today of the challenges still facing California as it implements a tough law, AB32, to cut carbon emissions to 1990 levels by 2020