Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCarpio are on the Same Page

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Two prominent men, one the World’s Richest according to Forbes and the other, one of the highest paid Hollywood actor and the most recent recipient of Oscar’s best actor award, have something in common. Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCarpio are campaigning hard to save the world from climate change.

Gates in his annual letter, stressed that it has been more than a century since Thomas Edison, invented the light bulb and yet, a big chunk of the world’s seven billion population live without electricity.  In the sub-Saharan Africa alone, 70 percent live in the dark while there are roughly 300 million people in India without electricity.

And it is his wish to see the poorest of the poor have access to power, saying that they would be driven further into poverty and likely to suffer the most with the effects of climate change.

Of course, we already see the points of Gates. In our country, the poorest of the poor are the farmers and the fishermen. Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority shows that the fishermen and farmers in 2012 posted the highest poverty incidence of 39.2% and 38.3% respectively. These fisher folks and farmers are the ones who use kerosene lamps at home, too.

And unfortunately, the farmers are also the ones suffering from this round of El Nino, The Department of Agriculture has recently reported that damage to crop due to the drought already reached P4 billion.

However, Gates, a known philanthropist, does more than lament the lack of electrification in parts of the world and the possible effects of climate change on the poor. After learning that the world must eliminate carbon emission at the end of the century, he did the math and came up with an equation to drive carbon dioxide to zero.

CO2= P x S x E x C

CO2—carbon dioxide

P—world’s population

S—services used by each person

E—energy needed to produce the services

C—carbon dioxide produced by the E

According to Gates, the way to zero CO2 is to have a zero on any of the variables. Unfortunately, one cannot have zero for services and energy needed to provide the services. This means that our greatest chance of producing zero carbon dioxide is to have a value of zero for C.

What does Gates propose to do to keep C at zero?

His proposed solution is to find ways for solar and wind energy to provide energy 24/7.  But he also recognized that this is quite challenging since so far, the solution to having these power supply constant is battery storage, which unfortunately now remains expensive and could increase the cost of electricity as much as three times.

Now, how does he think we can harness the wind and solar energy that can power for 24 hours?  This is where he issued an energy challenge, asking for solutions on how wind and solar energy can be made available at any time of the day at low prices.  In fact, he has already funded the research for this.

Just how optimistic is Bill Gates that we can find a solution to this problem? Very optimistic as he said: “within the next 15 years—and especially if young people get involved—I expect the world will discover a clean energy breakthrough that will save our planet and power our world.”

And he is probably right. There have been significant progress in technology.  For example, recently, Amber Kinetics introduced its multi-hour flywheel battery storage solution, which acts as a reservoir for kinetic energy. The high-speed rotation of its steel rotors lets the system store power that can be drawn out as needed.  This cutting edge battery solutions is very handy these days.

On the other hand, recently awarded Leonardo DiCarpio made waves in his Oscar speech as he campaigned for us to take climate change seriously.  According to DiCarpio, “Climate change is real, it is happening right now. It is the most urgent threat facing our entire species, and we need to work collectively together and stop procrastinating.”

DiCarpio, after all, is a staunch green advocate. His foundation is giving away some $15 million in grants to various organizations involved in finding innovative ways to save the environment. Plus, he is also a United Nations envoy on climate change and has recently inked a deal with Netflix to produce non-fiction documentary and docu-series on the environment.

That’s the world’s richest and one of the best Hollywood actors who are putting their money to save the environment and telling us to do the same. Plus, there’s also Pope Francis with his landmark encyclical on the environment and climate change. Now, who else do we need to tell us that it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get ready to work and shift to renewable energy before we start taking more action?

6 thoughts on “Bill Gates and Leonardo DiCarpio are on the Same Page

  1. There are a few “low hanging” opportunities to reduce C – now, with commercially available technologies:
    1. Energy efficiency: Studies have shown that for every unit of electricity saved at the point of use, 5 to 10 less units of energy need to be generated -depending on existing local generation and distribution efficies. This Is sometimes called negawatts. The pay back for this efficiency improvement is just one or two years.
    2. All households, no matter where, consume more energy embedded in the water they consume than for all other household energy consumption combined. With available solar technologies (specific to water production, purification and distribution), C per unit of water delivered can be significantly reduced.
    3. About 30 to 50% of all electricity consumed goes for running motors – industrial process, HVAC, pumps, fans, etc. Comercially available motor drive technologies can increase efficiency of existing motors reducing C and simultaneously reduce peaking capacity (reserve) requirements at generation. With specific existing solar powered motor technology the C for motors can be eliminated.
    All these opportunities do not need batteries (or flywheels) to become available – they can be implemented today.
    The hurdle is financing – specifically making debt available. Even the poor folk are willing and have capacity to pay back if debt is properly mobilized. Trillions of dollars have supposedly been mobilized for investments in C reduction after the Paris accord. What is needed is innovations in lending, not so much in technology – commercially viable technologies can be implemented today. If financing structures that can lend in to a regime with non- contracted revenue flow in local currency can be arranged (BTW these structures can yield better risk adjusted returns compared to status quo), we can immediately start reducing C – no need for grants or handouts.

    Liked by 1 person

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