The rise of the climate dude. Bill Gates’s faith in a technological fix for climate change is typical of privileged men who think they can swoop in and solve the problems others have spent decades trying to fix. Alongside Gates’s book comes The New Climate War, by Michael Mann, a well-known American climate scientist. Mann is the genuine article. He started in the field in the early 1990s as a graduate student at Yale University and has never left it. He is less than convinced by Gates’s relatively late conversion to the climate cause. Gates is a classic example of a “first-time climate dude”, believes Mann. This phenomenon is “the tendency for members of a particular, privileged demographic group (primarily middle-aged, almost exclusively white men) to think they can just swoop in… and solve the great problems that others have spent decades unable to crack”. The result is a mess, “consisting of fatally bad takes and misguided framing couched in deeply condescending mansplaining”. Mann argues that science, not “unproven” technology, should be the guiding principle. Electrification, energy efficiency, existing renewable energies – solar, wind, wave, geothermal, hydroelectric and tidal – and energy storage should allow us to “meet up to 80 per cent of global energy demand by 2030 and 100 per cent by 2050”. He is particularly scathing about Gates’s funding of geo-engineering – which aims to counteract climate change by intervening in the Earth’s natural systems, for example, by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Such schemes are largely “science fiction”, Mann writes. “And as with science fiction films, bad things tend to happen when we start tampering with Mother Nature.” Gates is more sanguine. He describes geo-engineering as “a cutting-edge, ‘Break Glass in Case of Emergency’ kind of tool” to have in case disaster strikes. “There may come a day when we don’t have a choice. Best to prepare for that day now.”
New Statesman 17th Feb 2021 read more »
Tim Schwab: Gates proceeds from a precarious position, not just because of his thin credentials, untested solutions, and stunning financial conflicts of interest, but because his undemocratic assertion of power—no one appointed or elected him as the world’s new climate czar—comes at precisely the time when democratic institutions have become essential to solving climate change.
The Nation 16th Feb 2021 read more »