While flying across the country, I was struck by the extent of the drought. From 30,000 feet, you can’t miss how once-green farmland is now barren for thousands of square miles. As I looked out over this bone-dry farmland, I felt horrible for the farmers who feed us and imagined their struggle to survive. And I wondered about my role in this process and thought about a quote from Bill Gates I recently read.
Speaking on a Sept. 30 episode of Bloomberg’s “Zero” podcast, Bill Gates said expectations that people were going to “utterly change their lifestyle because of concerns about climate were unrealistic.” He states that consuming less will not be part of the answer, and that we will have to depend on innovation to solve the enormous issues impacting our air, water and food supply.
Gates is right about innovation, as we already see important new low-carbon technologies. But on Gate’s pessimistic point of view about individual action, I disagree.
As a WWII buff, I am inspired by the sacrifices U.S. citizens made, cutting back on crucial resources so our soldiers could have the supplies they needed. For example, recycling was key, as shortages of everyday items and major appliances occurred when factories shifted production to wartime needs. Further, Americans used ration cards to buy household staples, gasoline and clothing. Living with less became the norm.
I am not arguing for ration cards, but I do believe Gates is wrong and that our individual and collective actions are needed. At minimum, our actions are needed to show our children that we are willing to do things for their collective futures.
Salt Lake City