Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft and one of the richest men in the world, has called upon the US government to triple its research spending on clean-energy technology to ensure that America is not left behind in the search for alternatives to fossil fuels.
Mr Gates said that market incentives alone will not raise the amounts of money needed for the kind of long-term development of alternative sources of energy that will replace the need to burn vast quantities of oil, coal and natural gas. "I believe it is imperative that the government commit to clean energy innovation at a level similar to its research investments in health and defence," Mr Gates says in a guest editorial for the journal Science.
"There is really no other choice. Carbon-based fuels are prone to wild price gyrations and are causing the planet to overheat. The United States spends close to $1 billion (£640m) a day on foreign oil, while countries such as China, Germany, Japan and Korea are making huge investments in clean-energy technologies," said Mr Gates, who called on the US government to boost spending on energy research from $5bn to $16bn a year.
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