Quantcast

Bill Gates Warns of the Dangers of Trucks, Cement and Cow Farts

Climate
The grand challenges of climate change

This year's letter from Bill and Melinda Gates focused on nine things that surprised them. For the Microsoft-cofounder, one thing he was surprised to learn was the massive amount of new buildings the planet should expect in the coming decades due to urban population growth.

"The number of buildings in the world is going to double by 2060. It's like we're going to build a new New York City every month for the next 40 years," he said.


Construction materials such as steel, cement wood "requires lots of energy from fossil fuels," as Gates noted in the letter, "and the processes involved release carbon as a byproduct."

"We need to find a way to make it all without worsening climate change," he wrote.

The "larger point," the billionaire philanthropist said, is that battling climate change requires much more than just solar panels and wind turbines. It requires "breakthrough inventions" across every polluting sector—buildings, agriculture, electricity, manufacturing and transportation.

Those five industries are the biggest contributors to global greenhouse gas emissions, or as Gates calls them, the five "grand challenges in climate change."

"Solar panels are great, but we should be hearing about trucks, cement, and cow farts too," he wrote.

For instance, electricity counts for only a quarter of the emissions, Gates said in a promo video with Melinda for their annual letter. "Things like cement, steel, meat—there's a lot of other activities that are generating 75 percent of it," he said.

Bill and Melinda Gates's 2019 Annual Letter www.youtube.com

Meanwhile, agriculture accounts for another 24 percent of greenhouse gases. Gates quipped: "That includes cattle, which give off methane when they belch and pass gas. (A personal surprise for me: I never thought I'd be writing seriously about bovine flatulence.)"

On that note, Gates was happy to report that the European Commission recently committed to invest in research and development on the five challenge areas, and Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the $1 billion fund he helped launch, will be using the five areas to as a guide for their future investments in clean-energy companies.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures counts a number of wealthy and influential billionaires as investors and board members, including Amazon chief Jeff Bezos, Virgin Group's Richard Branson, Alibaba founder Jack Ma and more.

"Part of the solution is to invest in innovation in all five sectors so we can do these things without destroying the climate," Gates concluded. "We need breakthrough inventions in each of the grand challenges."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A new rule that ends limits for hog slaughtering speeds could increase animal suffering, advocates warn. kickers / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Trump's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) finalized a new hog slaughtering rule Tuesday that environmental and food safety advocates warn could harm animals, plant workers and public health, Reuters reported.

Read More Show Less
Prehistoric and historic walrus skulls, tusks and bone fragments often wash ashore on the southern coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula in Iceland. Hilmar J. Malmquist

A unique subpopulation of ancient walrus in Iceland was likely hunted to extinction by Vikings shortly after arrival to the region, according to new research.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Drivers make their way on the US 101 freeway on Aug. 30 in Los Angeles, California. Mario Tama / Getty Images

In its latest move to undermine action on the climate crisis, the Trump administration will formally rescind California's waiver to set stricter auto emissions standards under the Clean Air Act.

Read More Show Less
Brazilians living in The Netherlands organized a demonstration in solidarity with rainforest protectors and against the president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro on Sept. 1 in The Hague, Netherlands. Romy Arroyo Fernandez / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Tara Smith

Fires in the Brazilian Amazon have jumped 84 percent during President Jair Bolsonaro's first year in office and in July 2019 alone, an area of rainforest the size of Manhattan was lost every day. The Amazon fires may seem beyond human control, but they're not beyond human culpability.

Read More Show Less
Author, social activist and filmmaker Naomi Klein speaking on the one year anniversary of Hurricane Maria on Sept. 20, 2018. Erik McGregor / Pacific Press / LightRocket / Getty Images

By Natalie Hanman

Why are you publishing this book now?

I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
This illustration can convey a representation of "eco-anxiety" — "chronic fear of environmental doom." AD_Images / Pixabay

As the climate crisis takes on more urgency, psychologists around the world are seeing an increase in the number of children sitting in their offices suffering from 'eco-anxiety,' which the American Psychological Association described as a "chronic fear of environmental doom," as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less
Electric cars recharge at public charging stations. Sven Loeffler / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Ben Jervey

Drivers of electric cars are being unfairly punished by punitive fees in several states, according to a newly published analysis by Consumer Reports. Legislators in 26 states have enacted or proposed special registration fees for electric vehicles (EVs) that the consumer advocacy group found to be more expensive than the gas taxes paid by the driver of an average new gasoline vehicle.

Read More Show Less
A plastic bag sticks to a wire fence in a remote location in the Mourne Mountains, co Down, Northern Ireland. Dave G Kelly / Moment / Getty Images

Ireland is ready to say goodbye to plastic cutlery, plastic balloon sticks and grocery items wrapped in plastic as a way to drastically reduce the amount of waste in Irish landfills, according to the Ireland's national broadcaster, RTE.

Read More Show Less