completely electrified, e.g. air travel. By-passing solar and wind generated power, he is making large investments advocating a new generation of nuclear power plants. Solar and wind he believes cannot be expected to generate enough electricity to meet the need.
In my mind, it is “the need” that also must be addressed. This would reduce the problem to the level where ordinary people, like you and me collectively, can and must contribute to an enduring solution.
People of my generation may remember another book with the sub title: Economics as if People Mattered. It was Small is Beautiful written in 1973 by the German-British economist, E. F. Schumacher. Though much of his thesis ran contrary to the economic science of his day (and ours), Schumacher was
no naïve crack-pot advocate of a “flower power” counter-culture. To the contrary, a Rhodes Scholar and later professor at Oxford, he was instrumental in developing plans for the British economic recovery from WWII and spent decades advising the British, and other governments, on matters of energy,
production, and development.
By his time, economics had evolved to a statistical science, able to quantify and project the world’s largest industrial economies. The “growth” economic policy that resulted focused on production, distribution, and consumption for the masses based on a conception that "material well-being" is the quantifiable equivalent for “quality of life.” To the contrary, Schumacher observed that large bureaucratic organizations often failed to serve humankind as these faceless, mathematically based systems did not accommodate the human need for “health, beauty, and permanence.“ Inspired by his contact with age-old cultures in the developing world—especially India during the life of Gandhi—he became convinced that smaller organization, using simple and available methods, or implementing “modern” but appropriately scaled technologies, afforded the most humanized, environmental, and sustainable economies.
By “downsizing”—i.e. reducing our “needs”—ordinary people of modest means can participate in the program now necessary to avoid, or perhaps survive, the worst consequences of any impending climate disaster. We need to learn to “live with less” within local economies, produce at least a part of one’s
own needs, live in smaller spaces, drive smaller cars fewer miles, vacation in our own “back yards,” and, like Bill Gates, electrify in every way we can—from efficient home heating systems to electric transportation.
Contrary to Gates’ analysis, solar and wind technologies can play a big part in reducing carbon energy demand—and have become not only affordable, but sensible--especially for homes, small business, municipal or institutional utilities, and vehicle re-charging stations. Bill Gates may feel good that he can
offset the “carbon footprint” of his travel by private jet to the tune of $7,000,000 annually in “carbon credits,” but this is not an option for most of us. Part of the solution to the present climate crisis will need to be big and technocratic, but if we will endure we will need to fundamentally change the way we live.