At TED2010, Bill Gates unveils his vision for the world’s energy future, describing the need for “miracles” to avoid planetary catastrophe and explaining why he’s backing a dramatically different type of nuclear reactor. The necessary goal? Zero carbon emissions globally by 2050.

Category: Energy, Technology, Video

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11 Responses to “Bill Gates on energy: Innovating to zero!”

  1. Dennis says:

    Wow, great stuff — I never would have suspected this insight from Gates — an on this topic.

  2. princess says:

    Thank you, thank you Barry for posting this. Maybe finally serious work will be done on the crucial energy problem. Connecting it with CO2 and the planet’s future, not just humanity and civilization’s future. And Bill Gates, smart, believable, good communicator. What a treat tonight. How can we work on this?

  3. vj says:

    Making it cheaper & eliminate CO2 approach is novel but if one can make it safely with renewables is everlasting and independent of availability of nuclear waste or the handling of it.

  4. mysterious eggs says:

    The CO2 argument is getting absurd. So is the fact that smart people are buying into an assumption riddled, discrete, out of sample climate forecasting model. Have we seen this folly before?

    Gates weakens his argument when he says the skeptics agree as soon as you bring in the economic factor. Why create obscure layers of CO2 reduction incentives that would be rife with fraud and corruption. Simply make producers pay for their waste, be it toy makers or power stations. If you create 1000 toys per day, we know it costs 1000*z [where z is some cost factor that is otherwise paid by taxpayers (in brownfield development or health costs when we're overrun by plastic debris in our water)] to dispose and clean up that production. Yes, that changes our consumer economy, but something has to give.

    And to bring this back to bailouts, many people’s raison d’etre on econoblogs. @26:35 “When you have something non economic, that to me, mostly is a waste”. Obviously, I’m taking that out of context, but that is the point to propose to every defender of bailouts. Do they honestly believe if we threw $12 trillion at energy research and every other stimulus possible (and necessary) that we’d be worse off than had we let TBTF fail? Who cares that GS, BofA and the rest would be lost in the sands of time? We’d have high tech, high paying jobs pouring out our ears and a puddle of tears under Lloyd Bankfraud’s office chair.

    Result.

  5. To review:

    The wealthiest guy on the planet retires, starts giving away billions, and spends a year thinking about nothing but energy and global weather — and he is somehow taken in by “the warming scam”?

    PUH-LEEZE!

  6. mysterious eggs says:

    Forgot to mention that I admire Gates greatly. He is an immensely positive force in the world despite people’s aversion to some of his business practices. Hopefully his entry in history books will be filled with his foundation’s works rather than a software company he once created.

  7. [...] Bill Gates suggest we have "zero carbon emissions globally by 2050."Close [...]

  8. Simon says:

    I don’t care who is right about climate change or all the things Microsoft has been accused of, the contrast between the activities of the engineers of this world and the machinations of the banking and financial classes could not be more stark.

  9. [...] The Big Picture: Bill Gates: innovating to zero! [...]

  10. mysterious eggs says:

    @BR “the warming scam”

    Yes, it is a scam. It is painful beyond belief to see this man being pushed in the right direction for the wrong reasons. Trying to simplify the Global Warming(TM) debate into a tiny equation speaks volumes of people’s willingness to believe nonsense and a communal belief that “we are more capable of solving our problems than every before”. Our daily weather is as significant as a single tick, our yearly weather as intraday noise and the weather over our lifetime can be paralleled to a single day. Most humans have a difficult time understanding such large time periods, I don’t think Gates has a problem understanding that magnitude of time though.

    We’re not going to get to zero CO2 by 2050 (not that we shouldn’t try) my best guess is that we’ll be burning even more fossil fuels by an absolute measure – less by a relative measure. But, at the same time, our scrubbing technology (be it industrial or commercial) will have increased immensely.

    Would you rather get rid of 90% of CO2 emissions or 50% of all industrial pollutants. Are we really deluding ourselves that CO2 is more important than Bisphenal A (emitted by plastics, an estrogen mimicking compound which effects development), heavy metals (neurotoxins – retardation, cancer), pharmaceutical runoff (antibiotic resistance, birth defects) and fertilizer dead zones (reduction of biodiversity – food chain disruptions). CO2 doesn’t kill, maim or deform us but we’re scared we’re going to lose some seaside tourist traps and celebrity cliff-side mansions? That sounds a lot like the sentiment that we must keep asset prices inflated. It comes down to our belief that we’re little gods. That we want to believe we’re capable of changing our planet at that rate speaks volumes to how important we still believe we are.

    Consumption is the answer Barry. Not removing it, but changing how it’s done. Producers must pay for the cleanup of their production. That is a negative externality that cannot be pushed into the future anymore. That can be done today, not in 20 years… maybe, if our research works out… and it’s as good as we say. I admire dreamers, I’m one myself, but this isn’t about dreaming. Nothing comes for free and “$10 billion more per year” is not going to solve this problem. We, in the developed world, have to stop pretending someone will “create a pill” to dissolve our footprint. Everything we do leaves it’s mark on the world, as it always has been and always will. Look at the footprints archived by mud of giant animals from the past. Everything leaves it’s mark. The only reason we feel so guilty about it is because we’re doing so irresponsibly.

    ***

    Thanks for allowing me to rant, that was a bit large for a blog comment.

  11. IanMc says:

    This “Terrapower” thing is interesting. Gates brushes off renewables so that he can talk about his venture capitlal spin-off nuclear project. A nuclear reactor that burns all of the existing waste we already have? Sounds amazing. Sounds to good to be true. So what happens to the burnt uranium? Do we get a giant column of lead? I don’t know why it apparantly took all the worlds supercomputers to come up with this burning candle theory. We discovered fussion and fission without the benefit of computers. I don’t know. I’m intrigued by the idea, but for some reason I always have more questions than answers when I hear Gates talk.

    I don’t think this thing will become a reality unless Apple makes one first and then Gates steals it.