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    • It’s hard to believe that once upon a time, I was fresh off a 16-year career in earth science and was in meetings and on phone calls with Bill Gates, who I would have thought would never know anything about earth science and the peril we face.

      And yet. He’s now perhaps one of the very top few experts on the subject, and probably the #1 force for change. From what I can tell, the central things he believes are:

      1. Planting trees is overrated.
      2. The biggest thing we can do is stop eating animals.
      3. We have to figure out fusion or fission. Solar and wind is not enough.

      Here’s a fantastic interview of him about his book:


      I get the feeling he is losing his optimism a little. @Shewmaker : in my opinion, he speaks like a real scientist should speak, without certainty, open to new evidence changing his mind, with great command of data.

    • Chris, What you describe is the right kind of attitude. There is too much "knee-jerk" thinking in our society.

      People decide that someone is guilty before a trial and without having heard the evidence, they get angry if the jury decides differently.

      A founding CEO dies and leaves his in heritance to several relatives but without giving control over the company to all of them. Many years later, one of his heirs who is not part of the company sends money to a politician's campaign. People decide to boycott the company even though no one connected to the company is involved. (This is not to suggest that the heir in question does not own some shares—probably does. But many companies have some shareholders with whom the board and administration do not agree.)

      An accusation is made by a celebrity. People immediately begin attacking the accused. Later it turns out that the accusation was factually inaccurate.

      Our society seems to contain many people who have an inability to deal with uncertainty and either demand immediate certainty or jump to a conclusion without having access to objective fact.

      It is my opinion that this is an offspring of the rejection of the objectivity attitudes of the 1950s and 1960s. There were flaws with the "Just The Facts" attitude but the pendulum has now swung to "Just the feelings" or "Just my desire as to what reality is".

      More and more, we are told that whatever the majority desires or whatever the individual desires IS reality. Much of the strategy of the Obama years was focused on creating a narrative that will persuade enough people to shift reality.

      Canute, where are you?

    • Not read yet, but ordered. Will be read by this time next week. Mr Gates always seem to have thoughts well worth entertaining seriously.

      Speaking of environmental issues, has anyone any comments about Elon's $1.5 billion dollar investement in Bitcoins?

      Below is a link to a fascinating article from the Financial times, about the coal fired electrical generating capacity being dedicated to Bitcoin mining in China, Iran, and Kazakhstan. About the annual electricity generation in Norway, which is not anywhere near a trivial number....

      Anyone have thoughts pro or con? Does Tesla really belong in a Green Portfolio as an owner of Bitcoins and their associated CO2 output?

      It is easy to see the mania, and how one might wish to have invested modest sums in a Bitcoin account, but would anyone living in a western democracy really want to submit a major portion of their life's savings to it? Just asking?

    • One way I see this is a waste of resources, and creating unnecessary pollution. In this regard BitCoin seems to be a way to depart from the trust in government's money, the printing of which is a lot less energy intensive. If Elon buys his own share of land he can then create his own country. How can that be a good thing?

    • Reading this is on my seemingly endlessly expanding to-do list. It's got to be an interesting read, whether you agree with all of his thinking or not.

      Anyone actually read the book yet?

    • I'm halfway through. It's a great book. Honestly, I'm astonished at how much he knows about this and how clear his thinking is. I'm supposedly the (ex) earth scientist but I'm learning a ton. I've read a bunch of books lately, like Sanjay Gupta's book on staying sharp (he's a neurosurgeon) and though I respect him deeply, it was mostly yeah, yeah, we know. Not with this book from Gates, at least for me.

      Two things Gates says we have to come to grips with, which was a very big struggle for him, is (1) we have to get to zero greenhouse gas emissions or the earth will keep warming. He's an optimist, which he keeps emphasizing, but he says this won't be easy. At all. (2) the rate of growth of industrialization is staggering. We are building a new New York City every month around the world. Solar and wind take too much space to support it.

      As for Elon and bitcoin, I know he's a big hero of many people here, including me, but damn, his carbon footprint is insane. In my opinion, he thinks he knows about global warming and to say this about a guy who's is demonstrably brilliant makes me feel like an idiot, but I think he's way off and Gates is the guy to listen to.

    • Yes, I have.

      It is a thorough discussion of the very complex changes society will need to undergo to really accomplish no longer dumping CO2 into the atmosphere, in any manner.

      While fossil fuel burning for tranport is a major issue, modern society has numerous factors which contribute just as much, or more, than the use of fossil fuels for vehicles, especially the production of concrete, steel, and most plastics, all of which are major industries in modern western societies.

      Mr Gates, an avowed lover of cheeseburgers as a young software entrepreneur, now feels mankind needs to remove ruminants from the worlds surface. I wonder how the Masai will react to this idea, or the Indian citizens who worship cattle.

      I need more time to ruminate over all of his ideas, but I suspect at some point many of us will come to the conclusion we need to actively remove CO2 from the atmosphere in some manner, and perhaps attempt some form of shading a fraction of the globe from sunlight.

      We will truly have to become active global gardiners/caretakers, not passive creatures living on the surface of the planet. How this will be accomplished by many competing nations, with competing interests, will be interesting to follow.

      I suspect Mr Gates strongly believes we will ALL need to be constrained by a major carbon tax in the very near future. How voters will react to this sort of constraint might be challenging.

      We will desperately need the safe, small Thorium reactors to supply the major increases in electric generating capacity needed in the coming decades. Mr Gates estimates the world electrical need will probably quadruple in the coming decades.

      A lot to think about in his book - softly spoken, calmly exposited, without very little said about the politics of the coming changes.

      I will be interested to read other readers interpretation of his book.

      I posted this response as @Chris was posting his, and I would repeat his comment about how rapidly the world is growing and industrializing. China created more concrete for its cities in the last 20 years, than the USA made in the last 100 years.

      And the creation of concrete releases very large amounts of CO2, and it is almost inherent in the fabrication of concrete. We currently have no significant substitute for concrete in the modern world...

      I still can't believe the bitcoin miners consume more electricity than Norway's entire economy, most of it generated from coal burning generators in Kazakhstan and China. 🥺

    • Awesome review, Pathfinder. 💪 I agree with every word of it, but I found these two sentences in your review curious:

      mankind needs to remove ruminants from the world's surface

      I need more time to ruminate

      😅

    • Thanks @Pathfinder & @Chris I'm definitely going to find the time to read it.

      As for Elon and Tesla's buying of Bitcoin, it's massively environmentally irresponsible, and he's smart enough to know that, which sadly means the only conclusion that can be drawn is that he doesn't care about it.