Joel Makower kicks off VERGE 2014 with concern, hope and optimism

GreenBiz's chairman and executive editor Joel Makower told the VERGE 2014 audience that there's a lot of good being done in the world to make it more sustainable and equitable, but there are a lot of things to be concerned about.

Makower gave a summary of the cool technologies and science that is helping reduce humanity's negative effects on the planet, many of which were talked about in more detail during the conference at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco.

"There's lots of room to be hopeful, but it's also an incredibly challenging time," Makower said, citing diseases such as Ebola, environmental destruction and species extinction, urban congestion, the inequality and poverty spurring social movements, and a climate of near-constant warfare.

But Makower made sure to send the message that world isn't doomed. "It's an incredibly exciting time," Makower said about the near future in sustainability. "There's an enormous amount of opportunity."

Technology, Makower said, is making farming more efficient, cities smarter and supply chains and manufacturing more environmentally friendly. But that doesn't mean we've solved the big problems that fuel things like climate change.

"Time is not on our side. There's so much to do. We have to get on with this," Makower said.

The annual conference hosted speakers, breakout sessions and vendor demonstrations Oct. 28-30, marking the conference's fourth year.