The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Bill Gates Warns of the Dangers of Trucks, Cement and Cow Farts
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
Oil rigs around the world keep pulling crude oil out of the ground, but the global pandemic has sent shockwaves into the market. The supply is up, but demand has plummeted now that industry has ground to a halt, highways are empty, and airplanes are parked in hangars.
Under an agreement negotiated by community groups — represented by NRDC and the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project — the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) will remove thousands of lead water pipes by 2026 in order to address the chronically high lead levels in the city's drinking water and protect residents' health.
By Dave Cooke
So, they finally went and did it — the Trump administration just finalized a rule to undo requirements on manufacturers to improve fuel economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new passenger cars and trucks. Even with the economy at the brink of a recession, they went forward with a policy they know is bad for consumers — their own analysis shows that American drivers are going to spend hundreds of dollars more in fuel as a result of this stupid policy — but they went ahead and did it anyway.
By Richard Connor
A blood test that screens for more than 50 types of cancer could help doctors treat patients at an earlier stage than previously possible, a new study shows. The method was used to screen for more than 50 types of cancer — including particularly deadly variants such as pancreatic, ovarian, bowel and brain.
Preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control showed a larger number of young people coming down with COVID-19 than first expected, with patients under the age of 45 comprising more than a third of all cases, and one in five of those patients requiring hospitalization. That also tends to be the group most likely to use e-cigarettes.