Bill Gates: ‘Be open to ideas that seem wild’ to fight climate change


Bill Gates believes that future generations will need to be open-minded when it comes to accepting new technologies aimed at combating climate change.

“We want to be open to ideas that seem wild,” Gates said on Friday in his most recent Ask Me Anything session on Reddit. 

The billionaire Microsoft co-founder’s ninth Reddit question-and-answer session (his first was back in 2013) focused on climate change, both in terms of the steps he personally takes on a daily basis to reduce carbon emissions and how people in the future will have to continue embracing developing technologies aimed at tackling the impending crisis.

Gates, who recently wrote a new book titled “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster,” fielded a question in the Reddit forum from a user who asked: “What niche technology do you believe could play a significant role in the future in the battle against climate change?”

Rather than highlight one specific technology, the billionaire philanthropist responded by saying that future generations will need to rely on “a lot of technologies,” including “synthetic meat, energy storage, new ways of making building materials,” Gates replied before noting the importance of being open-minded when it comes to adopting niche technologies that can help mitigate the effects of climate change.

“Fusion might come along but we can’t count on it,” Gates added, referring to nuclear fusion technology that has the potential to eventually produce unlimited clean energy, though the technology is still expected to be several years away. (A nuclear fusion start-up backed by Gates, called Commonwealth Fusion Systems, hopes to be producing fusion energy on the power grid by “the early 2030s.”)

For what it’s worth, Gates himself has already adopted and championed some of the existing new technologies he mentioned, such as synthetic meats and energy storage. Earlier in Friday’s Reddit AMA, Gates talked about the steps he’s personally taking to reduce his own carbon footprint. 

“On the personal front, I am doing a lot more,” Gates wrote. “I am driving electric cars. I have solar panels at my house. I eat synthetic meat (some of the time!). I buy green aviation fuel. I pay for direct air capture by Climeworks. I help finance electric heat pumps in low cost housing to replace natural gas.”

Gates published his new book in February, and the billionaire has spent the past few months regularly discussing climate change, which he says could create a global crisis that’s worse than the current coronavirus pandemic (a topic he’s also been outspoken about over the past year) in the next few decades.

In a February interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” Gates told Anderson Cooper that successfully tackling the climate change crisis would be “the most amazing thing mankind has ever done,” but he added that it would take an “all-out effort, like a world war, but it’s us against greenhouse gases.”

In his book, Gates also addresses various ways the average person can combat climate change in their daily lives, including political engagement and talking about the issue with family and friends, as well as buying more sustainable products.

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