‘The skeptics will accept it because it is cheaper’

That is the opinion offered by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates returning to the theme of his backing for the development of Traveling Wave Reactors or ‘TerraPower’.  Gates, according to AFP, has broken from philanthropic work fighting poverty and disease to take on what he believes is another threat to the world’s poor – climate change.

He was speaking to a Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference audience ‘packed with influential figures including the founders of Google and climate champion Al Gore’.

TerraPower is not a new idea, however no plant has ever been constructed even though it’s been kicked around by scientists since the 1950s.  The idea of using depleted uranium as a power source is excellent but there has not been sufficient interest in the concept previously because of the cost.  But things are different now because the idea is being pushed hard by Intellectual Ventures, an organisation founded in 2000 by Bill Gates’ former chief technology officer at Microsoft, Nathan Myhrvold.  Gates and Microsoft are, unsurprisingly, investors in Intellectual Ventures.  It just so happens that IV created a startup company in 2009 called TerraPower, to realise the Traveling Wave Reactor dream.

Since Myhrvold’s outfit got serious about this energy source, Bill Gates has been banging the drum to generate interest… and investment.  When Gates visited China’s state nuclear power technology corporation (SNPTC) last November,the write up was notable for the absence of the words ‘global warming’ and ‘climate change’.  But it comes as no surprise that a hardcore energy venture in need of large sums of money is swiftly metamorphosed by Gates from a purely energy initiative into a climate change one when the platform at the TED Conference put him in front of people such as Al Gore.  Gates is smart enough to know he had to position this energy idea in a climate change, zero carbon context.

After all, when it comes to accessing large sums of money the only benefactor in town is the taxpayer funded climate change club, doling out billions of pounds, dollars and euros of our hard earned taxes to all manner of projects, research programmes and advocacy groups.  Gates and Myhrvold want part of that action to move their TerraPower business venture forward and make them richer still.

Gates was certainly careful to press the right buttons at TED.  He was clearly mindful of the pressure on the climate change industry from the steady stream of exposés about unsupported claims, data manipulation, excluded material that enables scientists to ‘hide the decline’ in temperatures.  Fighting off the sceptics is priority one for the climate change industry, so Gates skilfully sent the message that supporting his prospect will see the sceptics roll over, meaning the money train will be able to continue unmolested.

The interesting thing here is that the climate change industry is changing tack and believes they way to mute dissent from AGW sceptics is to focus on cost:

Gates dismissed climate change skeptics, saying terrapower would render arguments moot because the energy produced would be cheaper than pollution-spewing methods used today.

“The skeptics will accept it because it is cheaper,” Gates said. “The might wish it did put out CO2, but they will take it.”

It seems that in the climate change bubble there’s a feeling that the concepts of good science, honesty and the recognition of the difference between theory and fact are not important to AGW sceptics.  The issue is whether man is affecting the climate or not.  The drive for cheap energy is a sensible goal irrespective of climate change matters.  But Gates has made it a climate change issue for no other reason than to open up the flow of taxpayer funded investment into TerraPower’s coffers.  Love the technology idea, hate the deceitful approach.

Because money is the primary driver of climate change claims and proposed solutions, these people seem to think that everyone else has the same motivation for the stance they take on the subject.  This is why multi billionaire Gates is sending up his test balloon, to see if those on the other side of the AGW argument can be bought off.  It is cynical and illustrative.  Also, as EU Referendum points out, such is the power of prestige and mutual admiration among the super rich and super powerful who stand to benefit from policies that punish the rest of us, Gates can make his unsupported claims without being drowned in a wave of derision.

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4 Responses to “‘The skeptics will accept it because it is cheaper’”


  1. 1 JohnM 13/02/2010 at 2:50 pm

    Since this talk was given at the Technology, Entertainment, Design (TED) Conference, I assume that it came under the heading ‘Entertainment’.

    Being a skeptic and cynic, something like this leaves me with a rotten taste in my mouth. No doubt some people will be ‘taken-in’, but, I hope, not many.

    The old saying, ‘Follow the money’ applies here.

  2. 2 JohnRS 13/02/2010 at 6:19 pm

    Don’t worry about Bill, he’ll catch up sooner or later.

    Remember this is the man that thought the Internet was a waste of space and so M$ were told to ignore it for a few years. Then he suddenly “saw the light” and wrote his famous memo that put it at the heart of everything. He stopped all new product development dead in its tracks and forced massive re-engineering and catch up programs onto all departments. Then he came out and pretended he’d always thought the Internet was a great idea.

    Something similar happened with security after the amount of media pain over M$’s poor quality products got too high to bear. Along came the “Trustworthy Computing” memo, all work stopped, staff had to go through mandatory training and, voila, M$ were true believers in the new faith. Security was something they’d always done, and done well!! (ahem)

    He’s a good businessman and a trule benevolent philanthropist but doesnt really understand science or technology. It’s no different here.

    We’ll just have to wait for his Damascene conversion on this one as well then he’ll be onside. Shouldnt take too much longer.

  3. 3 WestWright 13/02/2010 at 7:10 pm

    To put in more plebian terms, Leftard Gates and his audience have a terminal case of ‘my stuff don’t stink’ or ‘DO YOU know WHO I am?’

  4. 4 TDK 14/02/2010 at 10:48 am

    It’s worth reminding ourselves that Nathan Myhrvold’s IV is on the skeptical side:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6879251.ece


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