The main innovations designed to save the planet, said billionaire Bill Gates. And these are not renewable energy sources. They will not save the planet, if you do not change the approach to agriculture. Breeding livestock and agricultural crops causes tremendous damage to the environment.
One of the main sources of air pollution is considered to be power plants and heavy industry. However, no less harmful to the environment are three other sectors, namely land use, agriculture and forestry.
They produce 24% of the total amount of greenhouse gases - only 1% less than the entire electricity generation industry, which burns coal and gas.
Bill Gates emphasizes that agricultural sources of pollution deserve the same attention as hydrocarbons. "Amazing fact: the soil contains more carbon than the whole atmosphere and plants combined", The billionaire writes on his Gates Notes blog. When farming land, the substance is released in the form of CO2. Carbon dioxide also occurs when microbes in the soil come in contact with certain types of fertilizers.
The co-founder of Microsoft admits that the soil cannot be abandoned, because without it it is impossible to grow grain and raise livestock. "People still need something to eat.“, The philanthropist notes.
He suggests that residents of developed countries eat less meat to offset the increased consumption of meat products in developing regions.
“You can’t reduce production, but you need to reduce emissions"Concludes Gates. He cites five technologies that he invests in through the Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) fund.
Agroinnovation vs CO2
So, the startup Pivot Bio grows GMO bacteria to replace fertilizers. In 2019, the company plans to begin selling liquid “bacterial fertilizer” for US corn fields, as well as developing symbionts for other plant species. BEV invested $ 70 million in the project.
Kernza has found a way to reduce CO2 in the soil by lengthening plant roots. The modified root system of wheat absorbs more carbon dioxide, but at the same time increases productivity.
Another pollution control method is to reduce tree felling. Start-up C16 Biosciences has developed a technology for producing palm oil in the laboratory through the use of modified bacteria.
Technologies that extend the shelf life of vegetables and fruits will allow reducing production and consumption. Apeel and Cambridge Crops are developing invisible protective coatings that do not affect the taste of products, but preserve their freshness.
Gates emphasizes that technology is not always needed to solve a problem. Sometimes it’s enough to optimize processes. The Babban Gona project helps Nigerian farmers jointly acquire silos and keep grain supplies longer.
“There is no talk of a panacea against climate change, but I hope that these technologies will reduce emissions and help avoid the worst,” - concludes the billionaire.
Gates previously noted that renewable energies alone will not help fight global warming. He proposes not only building solar and wind power plants, but also massively introducing electric cars, switching to vegetable meat and using new principles for the production of steel and fertilizers.
Despite all measures, Gates is already preparing for a global climate catastrophe, which he considers inevitable. In the fall, he led the Global Commission on Adaptation to Climate Change, which promises to help the most vulnerable regions adapt to global warming.