This video was brought to you by GatesNotes, where Bill Gates, a technophile billionaire shares his delusions.
Honestly, Gates thinks that carbon capture and storage is a viable solution, and that should tell you enough to question his motives. He maintains that 65% emissions come from poorer nations, and we need to let them emit to catch up to the standard of living in the West - the thing is that the poorest 50% could double their emissions so long as Gates and his friends cut their huge emissions back to reasonable levels. What he also fails to mention is that the emissions from lower income countries are typically due to them manufacturing goods at low cost for the West, and these costs are kept so low because of a lack of environmental and social protections.
So the biggest lever we need to pull is to end the obsession with consumption. Amazon (and others) allow people to click a button and have something delivered the next day, completely separated from the realities of all the resources and waste that go into those products. The fact that we have this thing called “retail therapy” (and that it works) shows a fundamental issue in our society, and advertisers have a lot to answer for. Politicians also encourage consumption as a way to raise GDP, but I think we need to move away from the GDP obsessed society. Carbon taxes are vital, but also we need to take the ‘externalities’ and make them ‘internalities’.
In other realms electrification of everything has the potential to reduce emissions by 40%. If we shut down all the coat power plants that’s also 40% of emissions, and happily renewable (+ storage) are cheaper than running existing coal power plants in many markets, and only getting cheaper. Of course renewable energy infrastructure takes resources, but that is why we should be building them to last 100+ years - it is feasible for concentrated solar power, but less so for wind and photovoltaics. Perovskite solar cells will be fantastic if they can be durable, because the raw material is clay, which is ubiquitous. Once we have renewables and massive electrification it should be feasible to produce zero emissions building products (except for cement) - but this still leaves us with the issues of resource overconsumption and biodiversity collapse.
We need to recognize that we owe a debt to poorer nations, and provide assistance to help them develop modern, distributed renewable power generation.
In terms of what people in this forum can do (beyond voting):
- Advocate to build nothing and reuse existing building stock wherever possible.
- Minimize building footprints and massive reduce the use of materials that damage the environment, ban old growth lumber from your job, don’t blindly build with timber without understanding its sourcing.
- Design for the circular economy, engage materials engineers to make sure your structures can last 100 - 1000 years, design for adaptive reuse.