Tech billionaires Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and Bill Gates consider climate change appears to be prime on the agenda. On the other hand, some are questioning that whether they are focusing on their efforts in the right areas.
Elaborately speaking about the three richest billionaires who ranked in the top five richest people on the planet. They are all trying to develop new technologies which can reduce the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.
Currently, Musk is highly focused on funding carbon-captured technologies. However, Gates is particularly bullish on nuclear energy and Bezos has now created a dedicated “Bezos Earth fund.” Everyone believes that technology plays a prime role in tackling the change of climate. Now, they are doing their utmost to assure that they are pushing the boundaries when it comes to climatic tech.
“They basically think in the ‘Iron Man way,’ which is that we can build the technology to innovate ourselves out of it,” Christian Kroll, the founder and CEO of search engine Ecosia, told CNBC about the focus on planting trees.
He said in reference to trees, “No technology will ever get there.“And on top of that, you’re getting so many things for free. You’re getting fertile soil, you’re doing something against the biodiversity crisis, and you’re helping the water cycle so you have less droughts and less floods.”
Global carbon dioxide emissions have ascended over the last 100 years, principal to extraordinary global warming and climate change.
It’s highly known that trees are among the most effective carbon-capture machines on earth. They eradicate carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through a chemical reaction recognized as photosynthesis where they turn out the gas into energy which they use for development. Empress trees, for example, can fascinate about 103 tons of carbon a year per acre.
12 of the top 20 climate solutions narrates to either agriculture or forests, as per climate non-profit Project Drawdown based on San Francisco.
In the last week, Britain’s Prince William highlighted the significance of devoting nature to tackling climate change and safeguarding the planet.
He said, “We must invest in nature through reforestation, sustainable agriculture, and supporting healthy oceans, because doing so is one of the most cost effective and impactful ways of tackling climate change. It removes carbon from the atmosphere, helps build more resilient communities, tackles biodiversity loss, and protects people’s livelihoods. This is crucial if our children and grandchildren are to live sustainably on our precious planet.”
Jack Kelly, the founder of Open Climate Fix and a former researcher at Alphabet-owned AI lab DeepMind discussed the mix of approaches is required. He also said, “I think we need a wide range of interventions, both tech and reforestation.”
However, Trees and reforestation are comparatively low down on the tech billionaire agenda list, as per Kroll.
Notably, he said that the tech billionaires wouldn’t inevitably be able to “solve” climate change by planting more trees which may have a massive impact if they devoted more of their capital to the matter.
According to the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, Amazon founder Bezos is worth $197 billion, Tesla founder Musk is worth $181 billion, and Microsoft founder Gates is worth $145 billion.
Representatives for Musk and Gates did not instantaneously respond to reporters’ request for comment, while a representative for Bezos declined to comment.
Forests or fusion?
There’s no repudiating that tech billionaires are flattering progressively involved in climate change.
In January, Tesla CEO Musk vowed to invest $100 million in innovative carbon capture technologies. Carbon capture is the procedure of deceiving waste carbon dioxide either directly from the air, or just before it gets emanated from factories and power plants.
His share in new carbon capture technologies dwarfs the $1 million he disbursed on trees in 2019 when he provided YouTuber Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson a payment to help him grasp a $20 million tree planting target.
Musk’s posture on climate change is complicated, however. While he runs a moderately green electric vehicle company, he has also been disparaged for his love of bitcoin, which is now one of the world’s biggest CO2 emitters.
Meanwhile, Gates considers nuclear energy as the future and his TerraPower Company, which he established in 2008, is targeting to construct a fully functional advanced nuclear reactor.
In his new book “How to avoid a climate disaster,” Gates doesn’t seem to be convinced that trees are worth investing in.
He wrote, “It has obvious appeal for those of us who love trees, but it opens up a very complicated subject … its effect on climate change appears to be overblown.”
Gates claims that the most operative reforestation strategy is to stop cutting down so many of the trees we previously have and says that “you’d need somewhere around 50 acres’ worth of trees planted in tropical areas to absorb the emissions produced by an average American in their lifetime.”
The Microsoft mogul elucidated his stance on trees in a podcast interview with New York Times journalist Kara Swisher in February. “If you’re going to fund for 10,000 years constantly replanting it, then that’s a legitimate offset.” Gates also mentioned, “If you’re just planting one generation of trees, it doesn’t get you much. You know, I’m not saying it’s a mistake or anything. But that will not make a significant dent in this problem.”
Gates also added, “The idea that there’s a place to plant a trillion trees, that’s just wrong.”
Elsewhere, Bezos generated the $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund last February to deliver financial support to scientists, non-governmental organizations, activists, and the private sector.
Till now the Bezos Earth Fund has dispensed grants to several organizations that concentrate on reforestation comprising Eden Reforestation Projects, The Nature Conservancy, and The Natural Resources Defense Council.
However, Amazon has been disparaged for increasing pollution with its planes and vans, and for utilizing extreme amounts of cardboard when packing its products. Amazon said that its packaging is 100% renewable and that it doesn’t utilize plastic clamshells and wire ties.
Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing behemoth, and Microsoft also maneuver energy rigorous data centers on the world.
Turning profits in plants
But Kroll ponders the tech billionaires are still relatively “obsessed” with visualizing up new technologies to take on the problem. His company, Ecosia, has equipped tree planting as a major part of its identity.
Headquartered in Berlin, Ecosia donates 80% of its profits to charities that concentrate on reforestation. Principally, if a person drives on the Ecosia search engine and performs a search, almost all of the money that the company creates from digital ads will be utilized to plant trees.
The company has amalgamated with over 60 tree planting organizations who have planted over 123 million trees, Kroll said, adding that they’re mostly in developing countries in the tropics.
Kroll mentioned, “Through our tree planting, each search is removing around 1kg of CO2 from the atmosphere. I’m doing dozens of searches every day so thousands of searches every year. That’s a few tons of CO2 removed from the atmosphere just by searching.”
Kroll proposed that people should only be classified as billionaires when they eradicate a billion tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.
He said, “All the others are just dollar billionaires, That’s boring. We don’t need that in a 21st century anymore.”