Bill Gates and I have a few things in common. We’re both entrepreneurs. We both believe that the world needs to reduce our carbon emissions and we think clean energy is the solution. BUT, based on his 2016 Annual Letter one thing we don't have in common is our ideological belief of why clean energy is an important factor.
You see Bill (is it ok if I call him Bill?) implies that the reason we need cheap, clean energy is so that all of us here in the developed world can continue to have all of our first-world conveniences AND the world’s poorest have access to that same stuff.
He says that (S)ervices (food, clothing, heat, houses, cars, TV, toothbrushes, Elmo dolls, Taylor Swift albums, etc.) “needs to go up in poor countries, so people can have lights, refrigerators, and so on.” But he makes no mention of using less “services” in the US and other countries.
Don’t get me wrong. I dream of an environmentally just world. A world where a Tanzanian girl can study by lamp light. A world where every farmer can turn a knob to water his crops. A world where a family can afford three healthy meals a day, plus a few treats in between. A world where we can breathe clean air not polluted from burning coal. My problem is with the excess stuff – the Elmo dolls and Taylor Swift albums, if you will.
As I type this, I’m sitting in the airport waiting to board a flight home. From where I sit, I can see pegs of colorful stuffed monkeys, a souvenir piggy bank, fuzzy frog keychains…everything you’ll never need. You can buy a charger cord or earphones just in case you left yours at home. There are no less than 130 choices of processed snacks filled with sugar, corn syrup, GMOs, artificial flavors and colors.
So, while I believe that clean energy is absolutely a solution to reducing carbon emissions, I also believe that our attitude of expecting what we want, when and where we want it needs to change big time. I’d like to see us consider our “needs” more thoughtfully and reduce our consumption as part of the solution. I’d like to challenge Bill to think more along the lines of:
P (Population) x E (Energy) x C (Carbon Dioxide) x S/2 (Services) = CO2
If eventually C = 0, then we get the same answer to the equation, but we prevent a little waste along the way.
I’m sure there are a few other things Bill and I don’t have in common. For instance, I have a secret love for Lucky Charms, I would be a giraffe, and my favorite subject is speech.
Oh, and I’m not a billionaire. Minor details.
Renee is a PUP board member and has spent the past several years surrounding herself with like-minded people who share her passion for caring for the planet. Her business, GReNee Consulting, provides marketing and sales consulting to natural and green companies. Follow her on Twitter: @GreenIndy