This One Global Warming Chart Will Wreck Your Day



A new comic tilt on climate numbers. Concerned experts and activists have been struggling for years now to find new ways to explain the urgent but elusive nature of the climate-change threat. Because the data is complex and the effects are measured in small degrees over long terms, this is not an easy problem. But Randall Munroe, the resident nerd-genius behind the XKCD web comic, has found one brilliant solution: A long scrolling chart, like a timeline doing a headstand, that tracks millennia of human history against trends of cooling and warming (XKCD). Munroe keeps you amused with historical tidbits and gags as you scroll down; then he wallops you when the graph reaches the present and takes off on a frightening tangent, illustrating just how far off the charts we’re headed. Come for the stick figure jokes and stay for the angst.

The fall of the house of Rothenberg. Rothenberg Ventures, with about $50 million in its portfolio, wasn’t a huge Silicon Valley venture fund. But it had great connections, threw extravagant parties, touted a “culture of awesome,” and led a high-profile charge into the virtual reality industry (Backchannel). So it was a mini-earthquake in venture-land when Mike Rothenberg laid off nearly all of his employees in August. Now his firm is operating under a new name and faces an uncertain future. The first lesson here shouldn’t be a surprise: The VC business is super risky — that’s its whole point! But Rothenberg’s downfall also involves some very specific failures of transparency and accountability that Backchannel lays out: Rothenberg was apparently funneling the fund’s cash into his own VR-content startup without keeping his limited-partner investors informed. The big trouble with Rothenberg might have been its initial strategic error in taking a fat upfront management fee rather than the more typical small annual percentage, giving the firm an initial cash boost but robbing it of recurring revenue. Or maybe it was that Rothenberg, as some complained, “went Hollywood” and lost his way. However you read it, the Rothenberg saga makes for an important cautionary tale for a VC industry that’s too often eager to win when it should be shrewd, and star-struck when it should be skeptical.

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