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Dear Bill Gates: Little Steps Matter

22 January 2010

Bill Gates, he of Microsoft fame, recently wrote an article for the Huffington Post that I found, well, pretty out of touch with reality.  Mr. Gates argues that instead of focusing on starting with little, simple steps that everyone can take to reduce energy use, we should instead go for broke:

The need to get to zero emissions in key sectors almost never gets mentioned. The danger is people will think they just need to do a little bit and things will be fine.  If CO2 reduction is important, we need to make it clear to people what really matters — getting to zero.  With that kind of clarity, people will understand the need to get to zero and begin to grasp the scope and scale of innovation that is needed.

Mr.  Gates, with all due respect, you don’t seem to know anything about ordinary people.  Most of us don’t spend all of our time thinking about energy.  We have jobs and families and lives and mortgages and other things to think about.  Making some sort of ‘zero emissions’ proclamation might work on the most passionate advocates in the energy world, but what about the rest of us?  While innovation in the energy industry is essential, simple actions still make a significant difference for the people who take them.  If we’re going to get the whole country behind a movement aimed towards zero emissions, wouldn’t it be useful if every single person was involved by doing something in their own homes? I think that will make all the difference towards building public support and momentum, not to mention helping people save money right now when we really need it.

:: Huffington Post

2 Comments leave one →
  1. John R permalink
    8 February 2010 1:48 pm

    Neely,
    First, I am very thankful for all that you and the MNCEE do, but you are missing the point of Bill’s article. His point is not that reducing demand is a bad idea, his point is that it alone is not enough to accomplish the stated and necessary goals. If we focus solely on the 2025 goal we are never going to be able to make the 2050 goal. We need to begin innovating now in order to get there and that will require some of the ‘ordinary people’ you refer to to to go beyond where most of us who have accepted the energy challenge have.
    It is understandable for you to be defensive when feeling like someone is dismissing your work, and please understand that is not what what being stated. You and your team are important, but we need funding for innovation running in parallel.

    Thanks.
    John

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