Gates on the need for carbon-neutral energy source
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>> Energy is a topic you mentioned a couple times. It's something I know you're really passionate about. It's not something we've heard as much from you about, but you reference it at the end of your letter. What are some of the energy issues that you've been spending your time thinking about and what are some of the things that you're encouraging others to do?
>> Well, there's one breakthrough that is called for, and that's the ability to generate electricity with lower cost than we get it today, but no CO2 emission. And there's many paths to get there, and none of them are easy paths. We need to back a lot of them. And so I spent time with a lot of scientists talking about these things. In fact, Nathan Mirvold's [phonetic] got a group together that have done some very interesting invention around these topics. We've actually spun out a new company, a nuclear energy company, which sounds a bit unusual, but it's got a breakthrough approach that avoids some of the top problems. And we need a lot of companies like that. I invested in the known Colsus [phonetic] fund, 'cause he is backing some great entrepreneurs. I get some exposure to them as part of that. You know, innovation is called for in a big way. For rich people, yes, we can use less energy, we can afford a higher price. For the poor, a higher price of energy would mean that their life would be much worse. They couldn't afford as much fertilizer, or they couldn't get to their job, they can't get clean water. So the progress of civilization has depended on, will depend on, energy being cheaper. But now we have this constraint of not just less CO2, but no CO2. And you know, conservation can give you reductions, but the number we have to have is zero. And so the -- what you have to invent is not just efficiency; it's a whole new way of creating electricity that can meet the overall demand. So a fascinating topic, fits that innovation framework, and yet there's a private market, so the companies doing this work are... private companies where the employees get some of that upside. And many of them will fail; in fact, the vast majority. But all we need is a few to succeed to... take on both helping the poor and getting the climate change problem under control.
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