December 7, 2022


Many activists, scientists, and politicians have tried to answer this question. My response here is inspired by Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft. Gates has funded many projects in fighting climate change, and has recently published a book on the subject.

He believes that combating climate change has multiple aspects and demands global cooperation. Politicians may disagree on the specific solutions, but the goal — achieving net-zero by 2050 — must be agreed upon if it is to happen. 

People are not powerless; they have their responsibilities. Scientists also have key roles to play. Gates believes that advances in innovation and technology are required to reduce harmful emissions. 

One pivotal area that needs immediate innovation is battery technology. Without powerful batteries that can store large amounts of energy for a long period of time, it is difficult to count on reliable new energies as a standalone power source. Despite promising signs of progress in this field, there are still challenges to be resolved. 

Meanwhile, fossil fuel power plants should be replaced by nuclear ones to avoid introducing more greenhouse gas emissions. Even though nuclear power plants have environmental concerns, Gates believes that new generations are less prone to catastrophic accidents. 

In addition to these large-scale mitigation measures, we need a firm commitment from the public to reduce their consumption as much as possible. This will happen only when green premiums and options become widespread and affordable. ‘Climate prime’ is the extra cost of goods that are produced with minimal damage to the environment.

As an example, Gates explains how cement production needs this evolution. Cement production consumes a great deal of energy, and the process emits carbon dioxide. Its production introduces harmful emissions to the atmosphere through two sources. There are ‘green’ types of cement, but they cost nearly double. 

Development can’t be stopped as the population grows, and the economy largely depends on it. The only solution, then, is to make ‘green’ types of cement — and other goods — more affordable so that traditional ones can be replaced across the board.

Bill Gates is optimistic that the climate crisis can be managed, and this would be the greatest achievement of human history. 

30 years is enough time to reach this goal if we start today.

About the Author

Peter Johnston

Peter Johnston is a born and raised Muskokan with 30+ years of experience in municipal government. He has worked in both the public and private sectors in Gravenhurst, Sudbury, Bonfield, and Beijing, China. Gravenhurst is home.

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