Feb 15, 2010

Bill Gates and Climate Change

Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder, is showing some interest in climate change.
He is a wily guy and it is hard to see always where his business ends and charity begins.
But he is listened to by many throughout the world so his voice does make people think.

Here are excerpts of an article from Grist.org(2-13-10-Bill Gates talks climate change and high-tech nuclear). Gates spoke at the TED conference on Friday

He broke down variables in a carbon-dioxide-culprit formula, homing in on a conclusion that the answer to the problem of climate change is a source of energy that produces no carbon.

“The formula is a very straightforward one,” Gates said. “More carbon dioxide equals temperature increase equals negative effects like collapsed ecosystems. We have to get to zero.”

Gates said he is backing development of TerraPower reactors that could be fueled by nuclear waste from disposal facilities or generated by today’s power plants.

Gates touted TerraPower as more reliable than wind or solar, cleaner than burning coal or natural gas, and safer than current nuclear plants.

“With the right materials approach it could work,” Gates said. “Because you burn 99 percent of the waste, it is kind of like a candle.” Nuclear waste fed into a TerraPower reactor would potentially burn for decades before being exhausted.

“Today we are always refueling the reactor so lots of controls and lots of things that can go wrong,” Gates said. “That is not good. With this, you have a piece of fuel, think of it like a log, that burns for 60 years and it is done.”

Researching and testing TerraPower will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, with the building of a test reactor likely to cost in the billions.

Gates said that if he were allowed a single wish in the coming 50 years, it would be a global “zero carbon” culture.

“We need energy miracles. The microprocessor and internet are miracles. This is a case where we have to drive and get the miracle in a short timeline.”

Here are a few blogs from Grist commenting on Mr Gates speech:

This is significant news (and should be even for Microsoft-haters). Gates, to my knowledge, has never made such a public statement about the importance of combating climate change.

Ben Lieberman 2-14-10

Well, its good to see Bill Gates on board. Not sure about terrapower though, seems to distant and far off to be useful. i'd rather see him pushing solar thermal plants with base-load capacity such as being run and built in Spain.

Maxi 2-13-10

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