Bill Gates Calls for Zero Energy Emissions

It’s funny, last night I was just talking with a neighbor about Bill Gates and how he and Melinda had the power to change the world, making it a better place for all.  Previously, The Gates Foundation has focused mostly on health and education.  Now Mr. Gates is taking on climate change.

Gates spoke about his commitment to using his massive philanthropic resources (the Gates Foundation is the world’s largest) to make life better for people through public health and poverty alleviation (“vaccines and seeds” as he put it). Then he said something he’s never said before: that is it because he’s committed to improving life for the world’s vulnerable people that he now believes that climate change is the most important challenge on the planet.

His formula for zero emissions was explained:


According to Gates, P is for people, S is for the services needed by the people, energy (E) is what it takes to provide these services, and C is for the CO2, the amount of carbon emitted from the production of the energy to provide these services to the population.

Alex Steffen in his Worldchanging post had an addition to the Gates equation:

What’s more, protecting and healing the biosphere is essential to meeting the climate crisis itself. Logging our forests, over-burdening our oceans, converting land for agriculture and grazing, all these are huge contributors to our climate problem, and restoring the capacities of natural systems to absorb carbon dioxide is a critical part of the solution.

In order to truly succeed, we need to improve the quality of our natural systems at about the same rate at which we’re converting the economy to clean energy. Properly, Gates’ Equation would include a value for nature:

CO2 = P x S x E x C ÷ N

This post is an important one.  I like the  “global” perspective of the issue.  Mr. Steffen believes we need to rethink “our relationship to stuff”  and plan more effectively with interactive systems or networks, such as designing zero-impact cities.

Cities are the tools we need for reinventing prosperity. We can build zero-impact cities, and we need to. Any answer to the problem of climate change needs to be as focused on reinventing the future as powering it.

After reading through the post, I skimmed the comment section.   Some don’t think zero emissions is possible.   Many people will find this all to daunting of a proposition, but it’s a goal worth working towards.  Even if it’s not fully achieved, working in the direct of zero emissions is the direction we should be heading towards.

What do you think about zero emissions?  I realize this is a very complex issue and I’m only skimming the surface here, but is talk about it realistic?  Is it a goal we should strive for in our daily lives?


This morning I read a post on Gates’ talk which comments some of the flaws with Gates’ plan.

The plan may have flaws in its implementation, which others are better equipped to address,  but from my vantage point, Gates can play a huge role in raising the awareness for climate change.  Perhaps the climate experts should sit down and hash out a plan with Mr. Gates.  Having the voice of Bill Gates on your side is huge.

Posted on February 17, 2010 at 3:29 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: Built Green and Sustainable Living, Energy conservation, Local news and information | Tagged , , , , ,

Should Cul-De-Sacs Be Banned From Future Development In Washington?

cul-de-sac living

Neighborhood cul-de-sac

There aren’t going to be any more cul-de-sacs in new developments in the State of Virginia. Yes, Virginia will have no more cul-de-sacs.  Cul-de-sacs have been banned from new neighborhood developments.    Cul-de-sacs are the quintessential icon of the 1980’s-2000’s American suburb.

Here on Seattle’s eastside, new neighborhoods were generally built all over with cul-de-sacs sprinkled throughout. If the neighborhood was a new pocket neighborhood on infill lots in an older part of Kirkland or Redmond, as an example, there might not be room for cul-de-sacs, but if you look everywhere else on the eastside, cul-de-sac neighborhoods were the standard.   Woodinville, Sammamish, Issaquah, Snoqualmie, Redmond, and Kirkland all have neighborhoods where cul-de-sacs prevail.  Streets with cul-de-sacs were the prized streets to live on, the premium lots, the more expensive lots. Realtors and builders would tout the benefits of living in a cul-de-sac:

  • No through traffic
  • A place to play
  • A place for neighbors to congregate, meet and greet each other at the mailbox.

So why did Viriginia ban cul-de-sacs in future development?

Cul-de-sacs unite the people who live in the cul-de-sac, but separate  them from other streets by foot and by car.  It’s harder for fire and emergency vehicles to respond quickly when a neighborhood doesn’t consist of through streets.  Road maintenance is more expensive with cul-de-sacs instead of through streets.

The New York Times magazine finishes each year with an issue highlighting the great ideas from the past year.  The most recent great ideas issue had an article about the cul-de-sac ban in Viriginia.   The concept fits with the new sensibility rising in many places as highlighted by the popularity of sites such as walkscore.   Walkability and connectivity are this decade’s buzz words for living. Planners are looking more for connectivity, walkability, and better traffic flow for neighborhoods.  People are now looking for easy commuting, more connectivity, and more places to walk.

The Sustainable Cities blog highlighted the NYT article and wondered whether the ban on cu-de-sacs is the wave of the future for neighborhoods.

What do you think?  Should cul-de-sacs be banned from future neighborhoods?  What do you see as the advantages and disadvantages?

Posted on February 2, 2010 at 1:24 pm
The Beaupain Team | Category: Built Green and Sustainable Living, For Homeowners, Real Estate, Real Estate Opinion | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,