Greta’s right, Gates is wrong!
Contrasting Gates and Thunberg is critical. However, people get distracted by Gates’ focus on technical methodology. The REAL question is our DEGREE OF RESOLVE AND URGENCY. You need look no further than their book titles:
“How to AVOID The Climate Crisis” vs. Our House IS on Fire” (emphasis added to both). Gates’ whole tone is one of complacent certainty, Thunberg’s one of panic.
Thunberg says “I want you to panic” and “Unite behind the science.” Gates in his book admits he’s not cutting back on private jet travel, etc. Thunberg is MISINTERPRETED as saying we should not fly. She specifically said that was HER decision, not a demand for everyone. Bottom line — WE ARE NOT DOING ENOUGH. We are not even discussing enough — or proposing enough. Certainly, Gates is not ACTING enough. He’s still mostly focused on public health instead of identifying the Climate Emergency as the number one health problem and switching his philanthropic priority and focus. And for God’s sake, he should stop flying around the world just because he can. That’s just elitist selfishness. We can’t afford elitist selfishness. Certainly can’t say it’s right!
Greta asks us to “Unite behind the science.” She says this is a climate emergency. Scientific American also says so: “we are living in a climate emergency and we’re going to say so” Gates says we can avoid what Greta says IS already. Bottom line, Greta is right and Gates is wrong. Science is basically in concensus that this is an emergency and Gates doesn’t get it. Greta says we need to ACT NOW, Gates implies we’re acting already.
Some specifics: there are serious holes in our plans as most people view them. Solar and Wind are the two main energy sources being deployed (but too slowly), but even as these are rolled out, they aren’t solving the energy STORAGE problem, which will take expensive batteries which aren’t being rolled out in great numbers because they’re not yet cost effective. So maybe Nuclear will have to supply backup and load leveling — but we’re unlikely to implement that in time either. Electric cars are nice but they’re not being added quickly enough yet, it’ll be years before a decent percentage are on the road at the rate we’re going. So, WE HAVE TO DO MUCH MORE. Also, the reason the Climate Emergency is NOW is that whole cities and subcontinents are burning up, natural disasters have multiplied in number and severity, and sea level rising has already impacted whole coasts and islands. Cities are implementing remediation for past and expected impacts. My next door neighbors used to live in Paradise, California which was destroyed by fire. Tell them there’s no climate emergency! National catastrophes such as Syria, involving mass climate evacuation, civil unrest, and government destabolization are already happening and are sure to increase in size and number. In short, we still are not acting like it’s an emergency. We’re still just doing planning for the future as usual. GRETA IS RIGHT! WAKE UP! Gates is not so much wrong in technical details, it’s that his actions and his words both reflect a calm confidence rather than the APPROPRIATE amount of concern and action. Greta is not wrong about HER personal choices not to fly and so on — she is being mis-interperated as saying everyone should do as she does. She is NOT saying that, she is saying:
Act as if it’s an emergency — as if your house is on fire — however you feel is appropriate with that in mind. Do not act as if this is a time for business as usual. And unite behind the science. Bottom line: Greta is right, Gates is wrong. Of course Gates is wrong, because he’s a technical guy and this is not a technical problem — it’s a problem of will and we need to get on a war footing. Treat our response as that of a war — amass a response equal or greater than that of World War II.
The good news is we have elected a President and Vice President of the United States who understands the urgency of the climate emergency, who understands that everything must change and climate response must be built into all aspects of our actions — all branches of government and all government agencies, and who understands that we must “build back better” from the pandemic. He’s already convened a virtual (not physical) climate summit and rejoined the Paris Agreement. He will have great challenges convincing everyone of the urgency of the climate emergency and getting political support necessary for all the spending needed, but he has the will and the compassion and the government experience to wage a war on global warming and be the global leader we need today. Please actively support him in every way possible. His vision is excellent and his focus is right.
Thanks to Project Syndicate for publishing the article “Greta Thunberg or Bill Gates?” which prompted this article.