Christian Long

Bill Gates: Innovating to Zero

In TED Talks on April 12, 2010 at 9:36 am

Reflection by SAMUEL M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Bill Gates: Innovating to Zero

Innovating to zero.

As weird as this may sound, it is the future of science and engineering as we know it. Innovating to zero emissions in itself is a gauche notion because scientists and engineers don’t try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to zero. They, instead, try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions down to a low enough number that impacts the environment to a lesser extent.

The bad thing about this is: the environment is still affected, albeit to a lesser extent.

Innovating to zero emissions is also an awkward notion because we, as consumers, are used to hearing car companies brag about having “more horsepower, more torque, and a higher top speed” than the ‘other guys’. This higher horsepower, torque, and top speed all come at the expense of fuel efficiency. It’s not until recent years that car companies started using hybrid technology and focused on lowering carbon dioxide emissions and raising gas mileage. Despite all the recent hype on ‘new’ hybrid technology and ‘pushing the limits of a car engine,’ the technology for hybrid vehicles has been around since 1901.

The bad thing about not reducing carbon emissions down to zero is climate change. When carbon dioxide is released into the air, it traps heat from the sun. This heat then stays in the atmosphere and heats the planet — a process also known as Global Warming. Currently, the effect Global Warming has on the planet is under debate but there is scientific evidence that shows the average temperature of Earth has been slowly rising.

However, this does not mean we, as intelligent human beings, cannot combat Global Warming by drastically reducing our emissions down to zero.

There are many other energy sources we can use. Among them is the Terrapower Nuclear Power Plant. This type of power plant differs from the normal Nuclear Power plant because it burns 99% of the uranium — unlike the average power plant that burns 1%. The downside about this, however, is the radiation it gives off. Terrapower is still safer than conventional nuclear power.

What the world needs now isn’t faster cars and more horsepower. The world does not need more carbon dioxide to in the atmosphere. What the world really needs is an innovation… an innovation back to where we came from.

What the world really needs is an innovation back to zero.

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