Kudos to Bill Gates. He says no more oil, no more gas. He’s contributing $2 billion of his own money to the race for green energy innovation. And, yes, it does need to be a race.
He has pledged to commit $2 billion himself.
Gates is on a solo global lobbying campaign to press his species to accomplish something on a scale it has never attempted before. He wants human beings to invent their way out of the coming collision with planetary climate change, accelerating a transition to new forms of energy that might normally take a century or more. To head off a rise in average global temperatures of 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels—the goal set by international agreement—Gates believes that by 2050, wealthy nations like China and the United States, the most prodigious belchers of greenhouse gases, must be adding no more carbon to the skies.
Those who study energy patterns say we are in a gradual transition from oil and coal to natural gas, a fuel that emits far less carbon but still contributes to global warming. Gates thinks that we can’t accept this outcome, and that our best chance to vault over natural gas to a globally applicable, carbon-free source of energy is to drive innovation “at an unnaturally high pace.”
When I sat down to hear his case a few weeks ago, he didn’t evince much patience for the argument that American politicians couldn’t agree even on whether climate change is real, much less on how to combat it. “If you’re not bringing math skills to the problem,” he said with a sort of amused asperity, “then representative democracy is a problem.” What follows is a condensed transcript of his remarks, lightly edited for clarity.
— James Bennet, The Atlantic
Read on. Bill Gates is optimistic about the climate crisis because of innovation. He thinks the U.S. Department of Energy spends R&D funds wisely, and that they need four times more money. He’s hopeful the American Congress will come through on climate action. He has faith in human ingenuity.