This is quite a big development, since climate change hasn’t been on Bill’s radar until now.
By Glenn Chapman (AFP)
LONG BEACH, California — Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has broken from philanthropic work fighting poverty and disease to take on another threat to the world's poor -- climate change.
"Energy and climate are extremely important to these people," Gates told Friday a TED Conference audience packed with influential figures including the founders of Google and climate champion Al Gore.
"The climate getting worse means many years that crops won't grow from too much rain or not enough, leading to starvation and certainly unrest."
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.
He broke down variables in a carbon-dioxide-culprit formula, homing in on a conclusion that the answer to the problem is a source of energy that produces no carbon.
"The formula is a very straight forward one," Gates said. "More carbon dioxide equals temperature increase equals negative effects like collapsed ecosystems. We have to get to zero." …
"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 lot 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." …
Gates said that if he were allowed a single wish in the coming 50 years, it would be a global "zero carbon" culture.
"If I could pick a president or a vaccine, which I love, this is the wish I would pick," he said. …