Green:Net MiniNote: Gavin Starks, CEO of AMEE

Gavin Starks, CEO of AMEE, a web services platform that helps track and measure carbon consumption, scared the heck out of the audience this morning at the Green:Net conference here in San Francisco. He started off by pointing out that a 2.5-kilogram MacBook costs the equivalent of 460 kilograms of carbon dioxide, then painted a picture of drastic population decreases, the potential for war and refugees in a warming world and called for a carbon tax rather than a carbon cap.

The solution in Stark’s talk begins with the understanding of each person’s energy use, the creation of what he calls an “energy identity.” To create such an identity there are open standards that should be created (AMEE is trying) as well as privacy concerns that must be addressed, given the granularity of the information that will be shared. Such information could include your purchases, your energy consumption habits such as when you watch TV and what time you turn out the lights and go to bed. Securing such data will be key as well.

“Addressing some of the real privacy issues up front is absolutely critical,” Starks said, drawing a parallel to the issues surrounding the privacy issues with our digital selves on the web. The goal of such surveillance will be to then offset and reduce such energy use while getting people to change their lifestyle from a consumption-based one to a services oriented one that uses fewer resources.

Finally, we can’t just focus on carbon, Starks warned; we have to consider that we’ve hit the peak of much of our resource consumption.

So if this is indeed true, what do we need to do?

Move from a product society to a service society, Starks said — redefine our lives based on value.