Bill Gates and Others on Climate Change

Photo by  Jakob Owens

Photo by Jakob Owens

Last week, a blog post by Bill Gates discussed the major sources of greenhouse gas and how much they contribute to climate change. His comments included:

  • "Electricity (25%). Although there’s been progress in the renewable energy market, we still need more breakthroughs. For example, wind and solar need zero-carbon backup sources for windless days, long periods of cloudy weather, and nighttime. We also need to make the electric grid a lot more efficient so clean energy can be delivered where it’s needed, when it’s needed.

  • "Agriculture (24%). Cattle are a huge source of methane; in fact, if they were a country, they would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases! In addition, deforestation—clearing land for crops, for instance—removes trees that pull CO2 out of the air, and when the trees are burned, they release all their carbon back into the atmosphere.

  • "Manufacturing (21%). Look at the plastic, steel, and cement around you. All of it contributed to climate change. Making cement and steel requires lots of energy from fossil fuels, and it involves chemical reactions that release carbon as a byproduct.

  • "Transportation (14%). Low-emission cars are great, but cars account for a little less than half of transportation-related emissions today—and that share will shrink in the future. More emissions come from airplanes, cargo ships, and trucks. 

  • "Buildings (6%) …  The refrigerant inside your AC unit is a greenhouse gas. In addition, it takes a lot of energy to run air conditioners, heaters, lights, and other appliances … The world’s building stock will double in area by 2060. That’s like adding another New York City every month for 40 years.

  •  “To stop the planet from getting substantially warmer, we need breakthroughs in how we make things, grow food, and move people and goods—not just how we power our homes and cars."

Separately GatesBan Ki-moonSecretary-General of the United Nations, and Kristalina GeorgievaCEO, World Bank launched the Global Commission on Adaptation “to bring scale and speed to climate adaptation solutions”.

  • Ban Ki-moon said “Without urgent adaptation action, we risk undermining food, energy and water security for decades to come. Continued economic growth and reductions in global poverty are possible despite these daunting challenges—but only if societies invest much more in adaptation.”

  • Kristalina Georgieva said “Our climate has already changed. Dramatic weather events and volatile seasons are the new normal … We face a choice: business as usual and hope for the best. Or we act now and build for a resilient future."

  • Note: Countries involved in this effort include: Argentina, Bangladesh, Canada, China, Costa Rica. Denmark, Ethiopia, Germany, Grenada, India, Indonesia, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Netherlands, Senegal, South Africa, United Kingdom.


  • Addressing climate change will require: 1) energy alternatives such as wind, solar and geothermal, 2) advances in new technologies (lithium battery, hydrogen fuel cell, etc), 3) many forms of conservation, 4) various carbon tax approaches and 5) a reconsideration of the nuclear power option.

  • Climate change efforts need to differentiate between "feel good projects" and projects that make sense.  

  • Even skeptics of climate change should concede that providing a cleaner planet to future generations is better than the alternative.

Paul Dravis