Yesterday or the day before, I found myself subjected to the Bill Gates PR offensive. He seemed to be everywhere at once telling the world that it is “going to take a miracle” to stop climate change from being a hellishly disastrous process for us all.
But that was just the splashy sound-bite, the clickbait. His real purpose for the media offensive was to push once again the dangerous myth that, given enough effort and money, technology will eventually solve the climate change problem.
Naomi Klein’s “This Changes Everything” is just the most recent critique of technological determinism or the technological imperative. Her takedown of Richard Branson’s billionaire bullshit is masterful. And she spends considerable time compiling evidence showing that technological “fixes” are generally more dangerous than the status quo.
In this case, the play is designed to over-ride the obvious truth, that we all know, which is that we must reduce emissions immediately, leave fossil fuels in the ground, and change our lifestyle to one that brings us back in line with the rhythms of the planet.
The energy titans have to over-ride this obvious truth because their economic status relies on continued and indeed expanded extraction. The technology giants, with Gates at their head, feed the same myth because they are the technology wizards. They feed off the perceived need for trillions of dollars of research, ever-more powerful analytical tools/weapons, and the ever-disappearing-into-the-future promise of a fix that will clear us of all guilt or responsibility for the planet’s damage.
Bill Gates is a remarkable man, to be admired for many things, but in peddling the technological myth in the face of massive climate change he is doing his legacy no service.
Finally, it was annoying that Gates could get such extended coverage without an attempt by any broadcaster that I could see to balance the argument with an environmental perspective. Just another advantage for the 1%, I guess.