Bill Gates: the Most Important Climate Speech of the Year

– I’ve been deeply disappointed in the past with Bill and Melinda Gates and their efforts to improve the world.

– See and .

– Oh, I believed that their hearts were in the right place and they were sincerely trying to use their wealth to improve the world.  But I felt that they had been misled into working on the symptoms rather than the causes.

Their aim has improved considerably as evidenced by this speech, however. Now they are focused on one of the great drivers, climate changing emissions, that will shape the world’s future in a very negative way if we, humanity, do not confront it decisively.

– So bravo to them for correcting their course and refocusing on a cause rather than an effect.

– Having said that, I’d still like to point out that while this is a good step, it is not the last step.

– People, like the Gates, who have the idealism and power to make an impact, need to maximize their efforts by studying the entire landscape of problems confronting mankind and the biosphere and to trace the chains of cause and effect underlying these problems back to their deepest roots.

– Only, when we are dealing with the root causes of why our behaviors are so maladaptive, will we then have a genuine chance of ameliorating the problems effectively rather than just suppressing them with more bandages.

– And long time readers of this Blog will know that in my opinion, the deepest root cause of our maladaptive behaviors are our inborn biological imperatives.

– See and .

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When We Talk Zero, We Sound Crazy. When Bill Gates Does It, Bankers Pick Up the Phone.

On Friday, the world’s most successful businessperson and most powerful philanthropist did something outstandingly bold, that went almost unremarked: Bill Gates announced that his top priority is getting the world to zero climate emissions.

Now, I’m not a member of the Cult of Bill myself (I’m typing this on a MacBook), but you don’t have to believe that Gates has superhuman powers of prediction to know that his predictions have enormous power. People who will never listen to Al Gore, much to less someone like me, hang on Gates’ every utterance.

And Friday, Gates predicted extraordinary climate action: zero. Not small steps, not incremental progress, not doing less bad: zero. In fact, he stood in front of a slide with nothing but the planet Earth and the number zero. That moment was the most important thing that has happened at TED.

What, exactly, did he say, and why is it so important?

Gates spoke about his commitment to using his massive philanthropic resources (the Gates Foundation is the world’s largest) to make life better for people through public health and poverty alleviation (“vaccines and seeds” as he put it). Then he said something he’s never said before: that is it because he’s committed to improving life for the world’s vulnerable people that he now believes that climate change is the most important challenge on the planet.

Even more importantly, he acknowledged the only sensible goal, when it comes to climate emissions, is to eliminate them: we should be aiming for a civilization that produces no net emissions, and we should be aiming to live in that civilization here in the developed world by 2050.

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