Thursday, February 25, 2010

Innovate to Zero

As any green blog these days, we have to provide commentary on Bill Gates' recent talk at TED 2010.

The basic premise of the talk is that we won't stop our climate problem unless we can bring down the CO2 emission from 26 billions tons today to basically zero. Yes, zero. The factors in this are :

CO2 =

P (eople) times
S (services consumes per person) times
E (energy per service) times
C (O2 emiited per service)

One of these needs to trends towards zero for all to go down. First-grade math. People won't go down, but up. Services (aka quality of life really) should go up for all those people. Energy per services is already going down but not enough. So really, he claims, emissions per service is the one that needs to be made zero. Enter innovation. Only radical, miraculous innovation can do the trick.

Wow, sounds like we're in a bind here. Without a miracle, we're toast. BUt fear not, Bill has some potential miracles up his sleaves. He is heaviliy investing into a new form of nuclear energy called "TerraPower". Bit of a euphemism, but if ot were to work, it wuuld actually take todays radioactive trash and burn that almost cleanly at minimum risk. Sounds like a miracle? To me it does. But then again, Bill has deep pockets and a lot of pull, so we'll see in the next 20 years. He at leats points out that all other innovations and forms of energy will be critical to get us closer to zero as an energy mix and buy us time for the miracle to occur.

Take a look and judge for yourself. My overall sense was it sounded more like a VC pitch for a new form of nuclear energy than an all comprising approach to solving our climate crisis. But at least one more powerful person is now strongly in the camp of the climate savers...

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