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Posts Tagged ‘Bill Gates’

Foundation Road: Bill Gates On Energy Part 3

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

rural africa-saidaonlineFoundation road thumbnail

The majority of the world’s energy, other than hydro and nuclear, is produced by fossil fuels like coal that emit an overwhelming amount of CO2. But there’s some good news here, too. New green technologies are allowing the world to produce more carbon-free energy from solar and wind power. Maybe you live near a wind farm or have seen solar panels near your school.
It’s great that these are getting cheaper and more people are using them. We should use more of them where it makes sense, like in places where it’s especially sunny or windy. And by installing special new power lines we could make even more use of solar and wind power.
But to stop climate change and make energy affordable for everyone, we’re also going to need some new inventions.
Why? Solar and wind power are reliable energy sources so long as the sun is shining and the wind is blowing. But people still need dependable energy on butty days, at nighttime, and when the air is still. That means power companies often back up these renewable sources with fossil fuels like coal or natural gas, which emit greenhouse gases.

It would help, of course, if we had a great system for storing solar and wind power. But right now, the best storage option is rechargeable batteries, and they are expensive. Lithium-ion batteries like the one inside your laptop are still the gold standard. If you wanted to use one to store enough electricity to run everything in your house for a week, you would need a huge battery—and it would triple your electric bill.
So we need more powerful, more economical solutions.
In short, we need an energy miracle.
When I say “miracle,” I don’t mean something that’s impossible. I’ve seen miracles happen before. The personal computer. The Internet. The polio vaccine. None of them happened by chance. They are the result of research and development and the human capacity to innovate.
In this case, however, time is not on our side. Every day we are releasing more and more CO2 into our atmosphere and making our climate change problem even worse. We need a massive amount of research into thousands of new ideas—even ones that might sound a little crazy—if we want to get to zero emissions by the end of this century.
New ways to make solar and wind power available to everyone around the clock could be one solution. Some of the crazier inventions I’m excited about are a possible way to use solar energy to produce fuel, much like plants use sunlight to make food for themselves, and batteries the size of swimming pools with huge storage capacity.
Many of these ideas won’t work, but that’s okay. Each dead end will teach us something useful and keep us moving forward. As Thomas Edison famously said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”

But to find thousands of ways that won’t work, you first need to try thousands of different ideas. That’s not happening nearly enough.
Governments have a big role to play in sparking new advances, as they have for other scientific research. U.S. government funding was behind breakthrough cancer treatments and the moon landing. If you’re reading this online, you have the government to thank for that too. Research paid for by the U.S. government helped create the Internet.

But energy research and the transition to new energy sources takes a long time. It took four decades for oil to go from 5 percent of the world’s energy supply to 25 percent. Today, renewable energy sources like wind and solar account for less than 5 percent of the world’s energy.
So we need to get started now. I recently helped launch an effort by more than two dozen private citizens that will complement government research being done by several countries. It’s all aimed at delivering energy miracles.
You may be wondering what you can do to help.
First, it’s important for everyone to get educated about this energy challenge. Many young people are already actively involved in climate and energy issues and I’m sure they could use more help. Your generation is one of the most globally minded in history, adept at looking at our world’s problems beyond national borders. This will be a valuable asset as we work on global solutions in the decades ahead.

Second, if you’re someone with some crazy-sounding ideas to solve our energy challenge, the world needs you. Study extra hard in your math and sciences. You might just have the answer.
The challenge we face is big, perhaps bigger than many people imagine. But so is the opportunity. If the world can find a source of cheap, clean energy, it will do more than halt climate change. It will transform the lives of millions of the poorest families.
I’m so optimistic about the world’s ability to make a miracle happen that I’m willing to make a prediction. 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.
I like to think about what an energy miracle like that would mean in a slum I once visited in Nigeria. It was home to tens of thousands of people but there was no electricity. As night fell, no lights flickered on. The only glow came from open fires lit in metal barrels, where people gathered for the evening. There was no other light for kids to study by, no easy way to run a business or power local clinics and hospitals. It was sad to think about all of the potential in this community that was going untapped.
A cheap, clean source of energy would change everything.
Imagine that.


Foundation Road: Bill Gates on Energy

Saturday, February 27th, 2016

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Summary: Energy is a huge part of making life easier, healthier, more exciting, more cultural and, frankly, more energetic. 1.6 billion people live without electricity mainly in Africa and India. If Bill Gates “could have just one wish to help the poorest people, it would be to find a cheap, clean source of energy to power our world.”

by Bill
At some point today, you’ll probably do one or all of these things: Flip a switch for light. Take fresh food from a refrigerator. Turn a dial to make your home warmer or cooler. Press a button on your laptop to go online.
You probably won’t think twice about any of these actions, but you will actually be doing something extraordinary. You will be using a superpower—your access to energy.
Does that sound ridiculous?
Just imagine, for a minute, life without energy.
You don’t have a way to run a laptop, mobile phone, TV, or video games. You don’t have lights, heat, air conditioning, or even the Internet to read this letter.
About 1.3 billion people—18 percent of the world’s population—don’t need to imagine. That’s what life is like for them every day.
You can see this fact for yourself in this photograph of Africa at night taken from space.


Africa has made extraordinary progress in recent decades. It is one of the fastest-growing regions of the world with modern cities, hundreds of millions of mobile phone users, growing Internet access, and a vibrant middle class.
But as you can see from the areas without lights, that prosperity has not reached everyone. In fact, of the nearly one billion people in sub-Saharan Africa, 7 out of every 10 of them live in the dark, without electricity. The majority of them live in rural areas. You would see the same problem in Asia. In India alone, more than 300 million people don’t have electricity.
If you could zoom into one of those dark areas in that photograph, you might see a scene like this one. This is a student doing her homework by candlelight.007U0644MOV19_04_34_18Still001_800px_v02

I’m always a little stunned when I see photographs like this. It’s been well over a century since Thomas Edison demonstrated how an incandescent light bulb could turn night into day. (I’m lucky enough to own one of his sketches of how he planned to improve his light bulb. It’s dated 1885.) And yet, there are parts of the world where people are still waiting to enjoy the benefits of his invention.
If I could have just one wish to help the poorest people, it would be to find a cheap, clean source of energy to power our world.
You might be wondering, “Aren’t people just trying to stay healthy and find enough to eat? Isn’t that important too?” Yes, of course it is, and our foundation is working hard to help them. But energy makes all those things easier. It means you can run hospitals, light up schools, and use tractors to grow more food.
Think about the history classes you’re taking. If I had to sum up history in one sentence it would be: “Life gets better—not for everyone all the time, but for most people most of the time.” And the reason is energy. For thousands of years, people burned wood for fuel. Their lives were, by and large, short and hard. But when we started using coal in the 1800s, life started getting better a lot faster. Pretty soon we had lights, refrigerators, skyscrapers, elevators, air conditioning, cars, planes, and all the other things that make up modern life, from lifesaving medicines and moon landings to fertilizer and Matt Damon movies. (The Martian was my favorite movie last year.)

Without access to energy, the poor are stuck in the dark, denied all of these benefits and opportunities that come with power.

So if we really want to help the world’s poorest families, we need to find a way to get them cheap, clean energy. Cheap because everyone must be able to afford it. Clean because it must not emit any carbon dioxide—which is driving climate change.

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Effective Altruism: Peter Singer’s “The Most Good You Can Do”

Thursday, July 9th, 2015
“The Most Good You Can Do” Author Peter Seeger

Australians give more than $2.2bn a year to charities – but how well is that money spent? This conundrum is tackled by the philosopher Peter Singer in his new book The Most Good You Can Do.

Singer espouses the benefits of a growing movement called “effective altruism”, which demands targeted, evidenced-based giving that does the most good to alleviate poverty and reduce suffering.

Singer’s book is full of vignettes of people such as his former student Matt Wage, who decided to embark upon a career on Wall Street purely because he could earn more money to give away.

Effective altruists have worked out, Singer argues, that you can comfortably live without, say, 10% of your income and provide a net benefit to the world. He spoke to Guardian Australia about the book.

Oliver Milman: How would you describe effective altruism in a nutshell?
Peter Singer: It’s people who want to make a significant contribution to making the world a better place. That’s the “altruism”. “Significant” can mean 10% of your income, but for some people that can mean time or another contribution.

The second part is thinking about how to maximise what I’m giving – the time, the money, the skill – to make the world a better place. That’s where the head part of it comes in.

So are most people giving to charity for essentially selfish reasons?
There are a lot of “warm glow” givers. There are a lot of people giving without doing any research at all about whether their gifts are effective. So that’s a big problem.

I’m not so worried by people’s motivation. Maybe people do it because it makes them feel good. I’m not going to say “it makes you feel good so it’s not a sacrifice, you’re not an altruist”. I think that’s the wrong way to think about altruism.

We want to think that people who help others are altruists. We want people to feel good about giving, not good because they’ve got a bigger yacht than the next guy.

You talk about charities using pictures of children and animals, rather than hard details, to elicit a response.
It’s what people say about newspapers – the public gets what it deserves. People are prompted by the smiling faces and in some cases are even put off by too much detail and transparency, it’s hard to blame the organisation for doing this.


What’s pleasing is that there is a new breed of organisation that is appealing to the savvier group of donors who want information, they want hard information about what’s happening with their money, they want transparency.

Should there be a data-driven approach?
It’s fairly data-driven and certainly some people are like that. It’s not an accident that a lot of people into effective altruism are from the hedge fund area, computer-based stuff, startups and the like.

It’s all very pragmatic, isn’t it?
In the way of achieving an effect, yes, it’s completely pragmatic. Charity is a huge thing, in the US it’s $230bn a year, so it’s pretty big by any standards. And yet a lot of it isn’t going to the right place.

What information should altruists be looking for?
Firstly they should be saying “we chose this particular intervention because the data showed us”. So, they chose to distribute a certain number of bed nets in malaria-prone areas because there is data showing that is an effective way of preventing people getting sick and dying.

Take a larger organisation, such as Oxfam. I’d like to see them say, “We have a large number of projects and we chose these projects as a result of the following process.”

Who decides whether Oxfam would spend money on a rural savings and loans program in rural Mali and that it would spend money on assistance for relief from a cyclone? How were those decisions made?

Oxfam’s supporters don’t know the answer to that and it would be good to see the data upon which those decisions were made. Preferably, there would be independent evaluations of those projects.

I’m hoping the word gets around that if you do this, do it well, you’ll get money and organisations not providing the data won’t be on recommended lists. In a way I’m looking to shame organisations.

Is a lot of money wasted?
Yes. I’m not saying there are a lot of charities where it’s doing no good at all, but if you are giving to a charity to save a life for $100,000 and there’s another charity that could save a life for $5,000, then I’d say you’ve wasted $95,000.

Not all lives are considered equal though. People generally see their family and people around them as more important than people in faraway countries.

Yes, if there’s anything universally true of every culture, people pay more attention to the needs and interests of their close kin.

I’m not trying to fight that. That would be hopeless. I’m just saying it doesn’t have to stop there, that people’s altruism isn’t only related to kin and reciprocity, that there’s an element of it for distant strangers. It shouldn’t just be a plateau and then falls off a cliff if you’re not related to me or are my friend.

Why should people care about distant strangers?
Because you can make a big difference to their lives at a small cost to yourself, you are making the world a better place.

Even if we assume that your welfare is going to drop a little bit, and the welfare of several other people rises a lot, you are living in a better world. I think we ought to think about that, it should be a motivating factor.

Assuming you are a comfortable middle-class person, you are spending a lot of money on things that don’t make a huge difference to your life. Whether you change your curtains or buy a new car or new clothes, those sort of things make a pretty small difference. Whereas making a big difference to someone can be so much more fulfilling, so much more worthwhile. Even from a broadly self-interested sense, you’re better off.

How would you class how public policy in Australia is going at the moment?
I think the cuts to foreign aid are deplorable. I say that in a non-partisan way because it was the second Rudd government that started it off, because there had been bipartisan support for moving to 0.5% of gross national income, then that Labor government said they’d postpone it. I think it’s shameful that Australia gives so little aid.

Look at Britain. David Cameron pledged to reach 0.7% and he did it, despite financial problems.

Maybe the political atmosphere has got more poisonous in Australia, maybe that gives people licence to attack others on matters that should be bipartisan, like foreign aid. I don’t know.

Does that debate, where we demonise the poorest, those fleeing persecution, impact upon peoples’ altruism?
The debate about asylum seekers is very unfortunate, but in a way there’s a loss of sense of proportion in how we are doing in accepting refugees and by that standard we are doing OK. That’s something we should be positive about.

Even after the aid cuts, we are giving more than the Americans, by proportion, so we aren’t doing badly, but I wouldn’t like to compare us with the Americans. They are very anti-government, more anti-government than us and more anti-government than anyone should be.

We should compare ourselves to reasonably affluent nations such as Sweden, Denmark, Norway and of course Britain. Australians, generally, think we are better off than Britain, so why can’t we give as much aid as them? We should do better.

What change would you like to see in an ideal world?
The ideal scenario is when people think “am I living ethically?” they aren’t thinking “have I stolen something, have I lied or cheated?” or whatever – usually you can tick those boxes and say no.

I’d like people to think more “have I done something significant to make the world a better place?” That could be through reducing animal suffering, reducing the risk of catastrophic disasters by acting on climate change or dealing with an epidemic.

Whatever you’re doing, you need to make sure it’s as effective as possible.



Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

“The NRA Pissed Off the Wrong Nerd Genius”–From The Daily Beast.

TFN: Summary: Joining allegedly 90 percent of Americans who support fight: Bill Gates Made public that he is donating $1 million for Universal Background Checks (on folks buying firearms).

Other Key Points of Story:

1) Story notes that “Original Amazon” investor Nick Hanaeur has already put up 1.4 million, and Paul Allen of Microsoft has already put in 500 grand.  Steve Ballmer 250 grand. French-Named Dude Thats “Having Bad Day” Wayne LaPierre…NRA “head honcho.”

2) The Seattle Based Moola is being put up to support Initiative 594 in Washington State. If passed by voters on November 4 , the bill will require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in the state.

3) Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg runs  “Everytown for Gun Safety,” ot of Virginia,  it is said that  “Gun Safety” had huge victory in the election of  Governor Terry Mccaullife..who is TOTALY with –according to this story– the 90 percent of Americans that believe in Universal Backround Checks.

4) The NRA has Chuck Norris, doing it’s “Trigger The Vote” Campaign. Norris famously warned of “1,000 years of darkness” if President Obama was re-elected….which was always pretty much a tough sell. * *However Chuck is doing the world a great service with his sponsored support of the “Total Gym“….TFN LOVES THE TOTAL GYM. Literally the best excercise machine The Network has ever tried and The Network will disclose at the time the we do own the incredible Low Budget version of the Total Gym…that just keeps-a-glidin.

5) Related Foundation News that has NRA “worried” (from story below) Once the Gates Foundation made it a priority to combat malaria around the world in 2000, it brought down deaths due to the insect-borne disease by 20 percent in 11 years, saving the lives of 1 million African children in the process.*

*TRANSLATION: Someone Not Former NYC Mayor Bloomberg…in the form an extremely well-known and effective and outandishly loaded tech guy (Bill Gates)…has joined the Fight for Gun Safety…This is major breaking  FOUNDATION NEWS…that may actually have the NRA scambling (PR wise)  today. Much more so if the Seattle team replicates it’s support for Gun Safety all over the place.

Original DAILY BEAST US NEWS story  by Cliff Shecter below

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg already had the gun lobby in his sights. Now Bill Gates is donating $1 million for universal background checks—and there’s more where that came from.
Somewhere in a large glass tower in Northern Virginia, there’s a guy who runs guns with a French name having a bad day. With good reason.

It was reported Monday that Bill Gates, Microsoft co-founder and incredibly wealthy guy, and with his wife, Melinda, have given $1 million to Initiative 594 in Washington state. The ballot initiative, if passed by voters on November 4 (and it currently enjoys overwhelming support), will require universal background checks for all firearm purchases in the state.

Gates is only the latest Washington billionaire to give to the effort, with original Amazon investor Nick Hanauer providing crucial early funding, and more recently upping his overall donation to $1.4 million. Additionally, Gates’s Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen, has provided $500,000 for the cause.

But Gates’s fame brings more attention and further legitimizes the initiative in a way that almost nobody else could. Once the Gates Foundation made it a priority to combat malaria around the world in 2000, it brought down deaths due to the insect-borne disease by 20 percent in 11 years, saving the lives of 1 million African children in the process.

Gates has the ability to grab headlines and make an issue go viral with the constant media coverage he receives, and the financial ability, if he wins, to fund similar efforts around the country. His involvement could be the answer to the public health crisis that makes American children 93 percent of those murdered in the 26 high-income countries around the world.

Meanwhile, the NRA has…Chuck Norris, doing its “Trigger The Vote” Campaign. An actor, in the sense that he showed up in films, who was last seen round-housing Vietnamese extras in B-movies in the ’80s, back when he was only pushing 50. In more recent times, the more Methuselah-esque-appearing Norris has spent his time warning us of 1,000 years of darkness if President Obama is reelected. (He was. Boo!)

That, in short, is why the guy with the French-sounding name, National Rifle Association head honcho Wayne LaPierre, is probably somewhere drowning his sorrows in his Pernod. Because Gates’ involvement in this issue is just about the last thing LaPierre needs.

Already, the NRA has shown its disdain for anyone with the guts and resources to take on its political cartel of legally bribed legislators around the country. It was used to having the field to itself financially in the 2000s, until along came New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. After seeing his constituents and police force victimized by lax gun laws out of state, lobbied for by the NRA, he decided it was time to do something.

The now former mayor’s activism had led to the ire of LaPierre & Company, who’ve just released a multimillion-dollar advertising campaign blasting Bloomberg, replete with his supposed sneering at “flyover country” in between the coasts. Which LaPierre clearly doesn’t do while receiving his million-dollar-plus compensation in the wealthy Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Ironically, it was in Virginia where Bloomberg’s organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, had one of its biggest victories, when it elected a governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in 2013. None of whom thought a 12-year old should be able to open-carry an Uzi in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, because of, you know, freedom. Suddenly those who agree with the 90 percent of the country who support universal background checks had access to similar, if not greater, financial resources than those who pledged their allegiance to an arms dealer-funded front group.

Bloomberg is worth $33 billion, but if that’s not enough, Gates is worth well over two times that amount. Who knows, with that kind of dough, maybe even measures that “only” enjoy 56 percent support like bans on assault weapons and/or high-capacity magazines could pass via direct voting by uncorrupted American citizens. Or perhaps state legislators and members of Congress who bend easily to the will of these Lords of War could be swapped out for those who live in a closer neighborhood to the best interests of the American populace.

Likely the NRA will try to do to Gates what it has attempted to do to Bloomberg for a few years now, and seek to make this fight about him and not its right-wing radicalism in the service of avarice. He’s a billionaire trying to influence our political process, after all, unlike Manhattan resident David Koch, who along with his brother Charles has polluted our political process to no end, including funding the NRA.

Sure, in an ideal world big money wouldn’t play such an outsize role in our elections, such as this hugely important ballot initiative in Washington state. But that’s not what the NRA wants. It just wants its big money still to be all that decides the outcome, and it isn’t. Which is why Wayne LaPierre’s having a bad day.