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Bill Gates on Global Warming


I just read an interview in Rolling Stone with Bill Gates concerning his newfound interest in global warming.  It was interesting and promising because he is one of the richest men in the world and when his foundation gets behind a cause it has the power to do amazing things.  Gates is a radical consumer in the global warming conversation because he believes that energy consumption is a good thing.  He realizes that cutting our consumption levels is not really an option and raising the standard of living in other countries is a priority.  The third world is going to be affected by global warming the most and soonest so getting clean energy forms to develop these countries before disasters continue should be our number one goal.  We run on an economy where cheap energy is the basis and these countries should have that benefit too and we need to enable this with clean energy technologies.  The main issue we are facing is scale and individual consumption is not the problem but rather the development of the world is.

How do you go about solving this problem?  Gates is a huge proponent of research and development after doing it first hand in the IT industry.  He wants the goverment to vastly increase funding into energy R&D and pursue all innovative ideas rather than guessing now what the best option is and only funding that.  He doesn’t think clean coal is a viable option as it never can really be clean and storage of waste is a daunting task.  He also thinks that energy farms (wind and solar) can be great but they usually must be in remote environments and the transmission and storage of the energies make them not so efficient.  The energy form that Gates has personally been involved with funding is the re-invention of the nuclear power plant.  His approach is researching the traveling-wave reactor which uses waste uranium as fuel.  This takes a resource that would have been waste and utilizes it to make renewable energy.  The plants can be built anywhere which makes it a realistic and current option.  Many plants haved to be constructed and tested in order to make them economically viable and the safety issue still has to be made a top priority but in a couple decades he believes that nuclear could be our most reliable renewable energy source.

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