In a recent visit to a Kentucky school, Bill and Melinda Gates were asked what their super power would be. And, after going through a fairly standard wish list, they both arrived at a similar conclusion: more time and more energy.
However, what might seem like a typical response was anything but. In their annual letter, the Gates’ outline how time and energy, when you think about them outside of the confines of your day-to-day life, really are the keys to saving the world and how “young people” (think Gen Z and Millennials) are critical to turning these ideas a reality.
We need an energy miracle, and the younger generation is going to deliver it.
The Gates’ posit that clean, cheap energy would accomplish three crucial things:
- It would bring energy and power to the 18% of the world’s population who live without it today.
- It would halt climate change.
- It would result in more free time, especially for women, through the conveniences brought by modern technology.
Those are three pretty big things.
With a simple math equation, Bill Gates explains how if we’re able to reduce the amount carbon emitted per each energy unit we can get CO2 emissions down to nothing. But to do this we need ideas—lots and lots of ideas that can turn into new inventions that could actually fix these problems.
But what’s with the focus on young people? The Gates’ letter was specifically targeted at a high school audience encouraging them to focus on their math and science studies so that, someday, they can potentially develop technology that would render the three main challenges above obsolete.
Gates said, “I’ve seen miracles happen before. The personal computer. The Internet. The polio vaccine. None of them happened by chance. They are the result of research and development and the human capacity to innovate.”
And what’s more, it seems that Gates firmly believes that Gen Z and Millennials are poised to tackle these challenges and solve them through technology, more so than any of the other generations today.
In an interview with Wired Magazine published this week, Bill Gates said, “Progress is mostly generational in nature. That’s where you hope to count on young people who know they’re going to be around, who care about the environment, who have a real sense of priorities and a real sense of possibilities. Maybe some will get involved in policies, others in science. But all of them, hopefully, will have a political voice to put out there. They’re the generation that will see invention and change taking place, in their 20s and 30s.”
Millennialls are usually categorized as “driven and motivated by a sense of purpose” and the issues of climate change, poverty, and lack of resources for almost of a fifth of the world certainly get their attention. The most interesting thing about this call-to-arms is that it’s the first time a major tech figure and philanthropist is talking directly to this group.
A great real-life example of Millennials actively working toward fixing one of these problems is the COP21 conference in Paris last year. According to Joelle Thomas in an article from Scientific American, “COP21 is a prime example of how Millennials are taking ownership of the climate’s future. No longer passive observers, young people are participating in this year’s COP as members of official delegations, NGO representatives, and as part of a broader youth movement that has already created powerful momentum to tackle climate change.”
It’s a smart move by the Gates’ to speak directly to such a passionate generation and try to harness that innate motivation as an agent for change, especially to those young people are more inclined toward math and science. Bill Gates thinks that with the help of Millennials and Gen Z, the world will discover a clean energy breakthrough in the next 15 years.
If you’re not already, it’s time to invest in tech-savvy young people who will pave the way for, and preserve, the future. Because Millennials will certainly rise to this challenge.