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Microsoft Earth

Gates and MS Don't See Eye-To-Eye On CO2 288

Posted by kdawson
from the forest-and-trees dept.
Sam Machkovech writes "Bill Gates's speech at last week's TED Conference centered on 'moving to zero-carbon energy, and our need to reduce CO2 emissions 80% by 2050.' His choice of subject was an abrupt turn from The Gates Foundation's typical humanitarian topics, but he insisted that energy innovation is crucial to his Foundation's goals. A move by Microsoft today proves that Gates's old company has less interest in that carbon-neutral goal — Microsoft has begun campaigning against a bridge redesign that would result in more bus and transit options for commuters between Seattle and the company's homebase of Redmond, WA."
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Gates and MS Don't See Eye-To-Eye On CO2

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  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:58PM (#31251240)

    "moving to zero-carbon energy"

    That would be the end of life as we know it. Quite literally, as a matter of fact, since we're all made of carbon.

  • Devil's advocate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Manip (656104) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:58PM (#31251248)

    The changes Microsoft made to both Windows Vista and 7 have resulted in more CO2 savings that most other efforts combined. I am of course talking about the default and recommended power settings in Windows along with the "best practice" guidelines given to their corporate partners. Microsoft has also added support for power saving features to Windows ahead of what the hardware and or drivers in the market offered...

    • by ShakaUVM (157947) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:06PM (#31251388) Homepage Journal

      >>The changes Microsoft made to both Windows Vista and 7 have resulted in more CO2 savings that most other efforts combined.

      Which is really sad, since the overall effect is quite small.

      If we'd gone nuclear since the 70s, we'd have met every CO2 target out there today, and we wouldn't be having all this annoying debate. Well, we'd be having some kind of annoying debate, but not so much over CO2 production.

      I watched that talk by Gates a few days ago, and he has an interesting design for a nuclear reactor, that basically would work like burning a candle - "burning" starts on one end of the nuclear log and proceeds down the log until 50 years later, when you pop it out and put a new log in. The little bit of waste left over could be put into a new log, and it runs on unenriched uranium, which makes fuel a lot less expensive, and a lot more available. It could all be a pipe dream, but it would be great if they could get it working. Given that Gates can bankroll all the R&D out of his deep pockets, I'm cautiously optimistic about Terrapower.

      The sad thing is that environmentalists have a sort of knee jerk reaction every time they hear the word nuclear, even though it is the only power source that is cheap, safe, and good for the environment. The only people who oppose it are the ignorant (Nuclear Power means Nuclear War!) or people who think life would be AWESOME if we could all go back to living in caves.

      • by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld@nOSpaM.gmail.com> on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:18PM (#31251568) Homepage
        The sad thing is that environmentalists have a sort of knee jerk reaction every time they hear the word nuclear, even though it is the only power source that is cheap, safe, and good for the environment. The only people who oppose it are the ignorant (Nuclear Power means Nuclear War!) or people who think life would be AWESOME if we could all go back to living in caves.

        Wow, you have created some sort of God-Emperor of Strawmen there.
        • by ShakaUVM (157947)

          >>Wow, you have created some sort of God-Emperor of Strawmen there.

          He grants spells up to 6th level, too.

          But seriously, it's true.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by twidarkling (1537077)

            Well, I don't know if it's completely true. No one can know if it's completely true. From what I've heard, there's reactors now where the waste is something actually useful, or can be easily converted to non-hazardous materials, so at the very least, now is the time to start a massive push to nuclear, supplimented by renewable sources like tidal/geothermal/solar/wind as regionally appropriate.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BikeHelmet (1437881)

        The sad thing is that environmentalists have a sort of knee jerk reaction every time they hear the word nuclear

        I think it's a small but vocal minority. I doubt any environmentalist that thoroughly researched it would recommend coal or gas over nuclear. (those are the current solutions in the US)

        Certainly, we should avoid living within 50 miles of a nuclear reactor, just to be safe - but denying such an efficient form of energy generation because of possible risks seems fool hearty - and perhaps even hypocritical. For example, there's significantly more evidence out there that genetically modified corn (and the fruct

    • by dimeglio (456244)

      We should also consider the impact of gamers on CO2 emission. This growing population insist on 700-1200W power supplied to run obscenely inefficient video cards. Thankfully some manufacturers are greener than others. 343W in 2005 to less than 270W in today's best. Still we need to do some work here.

  • troll... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ottothecow (600101) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @04:59PM (#31251252) Homepage
    Without reading anything...this sounds like trolling.

    There are plenty of perfectly good reasons to oppose a bridge that may well be a bad idea to build.

    • Re:troll... (Score:5, Funny)

      by binarylarry (1338699) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:05PM (#31251366)

      I'm pretty sure they've already de-trolled the area. It's a nasty process evicting a troll from his home once he's settled in.

    • Re:troll... (Score:5, Informative)

      by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:09PM (#31251444)

      There are plenty of perfectly good reasons to oppose a bridge that may well be a bad idea to build.

      They're opposing any further delay for replacing an old, existing bridge. There is already an approved design for the new bridge, but some want to change the design to accommodate more HOV and public-transit lanes. From TFA:

      The state Senate has signed off on the so-called "A+" option, which would include six lanes total, with two lanes for high-occupancy vehicles and buses. McGinn's proposal ... is to come up with a new 520 plan that would incorporate high-capacity transit (light rail or bus-rapid transit) as well as two HOV and two general-purpose lanes.

      Apparently, the existing bridge could fall into the water at the next earthquake and it's a main route for Microsoft employees to/from the campus.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jellomizer (103300)

        So Microsoft is Anti-Envriomentalist because it doesn't want to add public transit that most people wont use. Being a real environmentalist is being a realist too. Every choice you take has a trade off, Trying to push too green may cause a bridge that is not efficiently used. Thus creating a negative impact. Being green just to wave a flag to say Look I am green I am a good human being is often the worst thing you can do as you are not evaluating what you are doing and what tradeoffs you have.

        • So Microsoft is Anti-Envriomentalist because ...

          I never said or implied any such thing. I simply responded with facts from the article that the parent didn't take time to discover. He stated himself that he hadn't read anything and implied that MS didn't want the bridge built, when in fact they actually want it built now rather than later for practical reasons.

          You're reading too much into what I wrote. Chill. I agree with your comments.

        • Re:troll... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by freemywrld (821105) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @07:14PM (#31253096) Homepage

          Actually, public transit is heavily utilized here in the Seattle area and many people support the plan for more rapid transit options over the bridge because as it stands now, due to congestion, the buses are stuck in gridlock with everyone else. More dedicated lanes for buses means less sitting in traffic and now that the light rail is complete, people are already anxious to see its extension both north and east over Lake Washington. Finishing the bridge rapidly will only increase the costs to add rail to the eastside later (or more likely cause it to not happen at all, devaluing the light rail as a transit option for many) instead of just doing it now while they are already going to to be rebuilding.

    • Re:troll... (Score:5, Informative)

      by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:14PM (#31251508)

      The irony is they took out the advertisement to oppose delays on replacing the existing bridge, and in turn doing so they are "against" another proposal that would add more mass transit.

      From TFA, the statement made by MS in their full page ad:
      While there are still some final design issues that need to be resolved with the City of Seattle, we should not let last-minute objections undermine the hard-won agreements already in place for the rest of the project. Doing so would cause yet more delay, increase the cost to taxpayers, and put this vital transportation and economic corridor at risk. The current bridge is 47 years old, and state engineers warn that it could sink in a major storm or earthquake.

      So basically they want it finished now, not sitting in government limbo like so many other infrastructure improvements do.

      I'd also like to point out the obvious: Bill Gates is not Microsoft.

    • Re:troll... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShadowRangerRIT (1301549) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:39PM (#31251902)

      Actually, they're not directly opposing mass transit. They're opposing efforts to delay the expansion of the existing (car only) bridge because the expansion has been needed (light rail or no) for a long time (a decade or so), and now that they've finally got an agreement worked out, they don't want to go back to the drawing board.

      I don't know the details of the current bridge plans, but when I worked out there, it was patently obvious the bridge needed expansion. The highway leading up to it on the eastern side (the MS side) was three lanes each way, one of which was an HOV-3 lane. Problem was, when you hit the bridge, it narrowed to two lanes, eliminating the HOV lane. Which meant all the HOV travelers had to merge back in, and the merging itself created massive traffic jams. The HOV lane was only really useful at the edges of rush hour; in the middle of rush hour it would back up almost as badly as the non-HOV lanes (and keep in mind, buses were using it to, so mass transit wasn't a workaround). If they could just expand the bridge by one lane each way, and make the extra lane HOV-3, carpooling would make a lot more sense, as would riding the bus, and even people in the non-HOV lanes would benefit a bit (since the last second merging wouldn't exacerbate otherwise minor traffic jams).

      • I don't know the details of the current bridge plans, but when I worked out there, it was patently obvious the bridge needed expansion.

        And when the bridge expands more people will move to the other side of the bridge thereby making it just as congested as before. When will people learn that increasing highways just makes people move that much further away from their work place.

    • by fm6 (162816)

      Without reading anything...this sounds like trolling.

      Accusing somebody of trolling without taking 5 seconds to check their assertions — that's definitely trolling.

      • Yeah, but I was right... and you can basically tell from the summary that the submitter tried to load their submission with more bias than that damn nuclear energy post.
        • by fm6 (162816)

          Yes, you were right. But that doesn't make you any less of a troll.

    • Re:troll... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ashridah (72567) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @06:01PM (#31252174)

      Let's be 100% clear about this. I take that bridge to work every day.

      It is one of the worst, most overly congested bridges I've ever seen. It's congested all day every day except sunday and between about 9pm -> 6am, generally speaking, and right now, it seems like getting a new bridge in sooner would do more to alleviate carbon production than waiting for extra PT could ever hope to achieve in any kind of useful timeframe.

      Simply put, when taking the bridge, I spend up to an hour, for what should be a 15-20 minute trip. That's around 30 minutes of extra idle time in my car, which could easily be saved. We also already have functioning public and private bus systems across the bridge, and that's not going to go away.

      Additionally, this is a company that went out and bought a bunch of coaches to setup their own private transit system so that even more employees could leave their cars at home in places where there was no effective PT to campus. I hardly think this is an example of Microsoft not caring about the environment or carbon emissions. We've also been working hard to consolidate and reduce the amount of computer lab space we're using, reducing energy costs, setting more machines to sleep at night ,etc.

      This article is a complete hatchet job designed to just paint Microsoft in the worst possible light. I'm not surprised that kdawson posted it in the slightest.

      • by AuMatar (183847)

        Drive down to I-90 instead. Only moderately congested. It may add 10-15 miles to your trip if you head north of 520, but it will save you 30 minutes. I'm lucky enough to live in downtown seattle between the 2 bridges. I don't even bother taking 520 anywhere anymore, its just not worth it. It's almost faster to travel city streets around lake washington.

        • by ashridah (72567)

          It doesn't save me anything, as a matter of fact. fighting past bellevue, then across the i-90, then back up to greenwood takes just as long, if not longer, the times i've tried it. I've had occasional success with going over the top of the lake, but the traffic needs to be completely screwed on the 520, and relatively light on the 405 north for that.

    • by Jason Earl (1894)

      Microsoft doesn't oppose the bridge. In fact, Microsoft is in favor of the current plans for the bridge. Currently plans for the bridge include 6 total lanes with two of those lanes (one in each direction) being HOV lanes. Apparently there is a contingent that wants to change the plans so that so there are two lanes for light rail and/or buses, two HOV lanes, and one general purpose lane in each direction.

      Microsoft is right to oppose such a boondoggle.

      The fact of the matter is that most of the people

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:02PM (#31251322) Journal
    That a guy who has practically unlimited money and a seemingly sincere desire for world improvement(some of the "educational" initiatives that basically boil down to getting 3rd world kiddies using MS Office are arguably cynical; but nobody puts money into malaria research except for philanthropic reasons) and a callously profit-maximizing corporation with stockholders to appease might not be in complete agreement. However could this be?
    • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:28PM (#31251752)

      nobody puts money into malaria research except for philanthropic reasons

      Oh I don't know, they can't very well buy MS products if they're dead now can they?

      In all seriousness, why is giving '3rd world kiddies' free access to your companies software cynical? Ok, yes you can make the argument that you're trying to indoctrinate them, but isn't it more likely that Bill Gates genuinely believes that MS products are some of the best available and that the kids should have the best available products? Especially since, given his contacts, the software can be had at little to no cost? Not every act of a millionaire is duplicitous, it seems to me that he's just trying to do the most good possible. His opinion of the software may be wrong, but I doubt that he is conciously trying to brainwash the developing world.

  • by magarity (164372) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:02PM (#31251326)

    Tha alternative plan MS is arguing against has only two (one each way) lanes for general car use - no wonder they don't want it. Light rail and long range buses are only good if lots of people want to use them. HOV lanes are only good if people can be convinced to carpool. Apparently MS management feels the employees want to drive their own cars to work by themselves. If that's the case, making them idle in the traffic snarls created by the one general lane each way bridge will not only make everyone late to work but also really exacerbate the smog problem.

    • by yankpop (931224)

      Light rail and long range buses are only good if lots of people want to use them. HOV lanes are only good if people can be convinced to carpool. Apparently MS management feels the employees want to drive their own cars to work by themselves. If that's the case, making them idle in the traffic snarls created by the one general lane each way bridge will not only make everyone late to work but also really exacerbate the smog problem.

      You almost make sense. Your argument is based on the assumption that people wa

      • by idontgno (624372) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:24PM (#31251672) Journal

        However, if they are stuck in traffic jams day after day, they may find themselves much more likely to try the train, bus or carpool option

        Hasn't happened yet. [forbes.com]

        it's also faster. At least, it's faster in a well-designed transit system.

        Spherical cow. [wikipedia.org] It's all easy if you can postulate away any actual practical limitations. Things like existing residence and employment location patterns ("first, we make everyone live within 5 miles of where they work..."); stuff already in the way of your well-designed transit system ("how many dozens of blocks are you willing to demolish to set up your light rail system?"); and the simple societal preference for individual mobility.

        The U.S. is a big, sprawling country, and the cities are big and sprawling too. That is the result of, and the reinforcement for, the big, sprawling, commute-centric mindset of suburban/exurban America. And 3-hour commutes, $4 per gallon gasoline, and 35,000 traffic fatalities a year haven't changed it yet. If you don't mind, I won't hold my breath.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by operagost (62405)
        Nudge, nudge. That's the progressive way! Hey, can I ask that they not use my tax money to build HOV lanes, then tell me I can't use them?
      • by yourlord (473099)

        But you have to account for people like me who hate public transportation and would gladly sit in their cars, idling, for 8 hours a day rather than be forced to ride a stinking scum infested bus or train.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by operagost (62405)
      HOV lanes are an insult to the taxpayers who pay for highways. They're an even greater insult to the drivers who pay never-ending tolls to use those roads, then are told that they can't use part of it while everyone sits in traffic wasting fuel and polluting.
      • by PitaBred (632671)

        It's cheaper to you than building new roads, and accomplishes a fair amount of congestion relief when properly implemented. Would you rather the cities use eminent domain on anything near a highway and expand them all to 12 lanes?

    • by McBeer (714119) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:23PM (#31251654) Homepage

      Tha alternative plan MS is arguing against has only two (one each way) lanes for general car use - no wonder they don't want it. Light rail and long range buses are only good if lots of people want to use them. HOV lanes are only good if people can be convinced to carpool. Apparently MS management feels the employees want to drive their own cars to work by themselves. If that's the case, making them idle in the traffic snarls created by the one general lane each way bridge will not only make everyone late to work but also really exacerbate the smog problem.

      Not quite. Most of the MS employees in Seattle ride the Microsoft Connector bus in to work. The existing one carpool lane is more then sufficient to accomodate the MS busses. I live right by the 520 bridge and I'm with MS on this one. More carpool lanes and/or light rail will just increase the time and cost of the project and add little to no benefit. We need a new bridge now.

    • Apparently MS management feels the employees want to drive their own cars to work by themselves.

      FWIW, my experience is that car-pooling is very common in the Seattle area, especially among people under 40. Much more so than in the NY area where I live now. Actions to encourage more carpooling there might be likely to meet a decent response than here in NJ where HOV lanes have been converted back to general-purpose lanes.

      Just some food for thought.

      • by AuMatar (183847)

        I don't know where you're getting that. I don't know anyone who carpools, and I live here. I also see the existing HOV lanes rarely if ever have cars in them. I know the state claims they're used to near capacity, but they always look empty to me.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *

      It's interesting that the "conservative" view here supports government spending on a project that mainly benefits Microsoft employees.

      If Microsoft wants a bridge that's best for their own employees, why don't they user their own money to build it?

      If the entire state's (and federal) taxpayers have to foot the bill for this bridge, then it's completely reasonable for them to expect it to be environmentally responsible.

      • by DaHat (247651)

        >that mainly benefits Microsoft employees

        So what % of traffic driving across the 520 each day do you think is that of Microsoft employees? 95%? 75%? 50.00001%? Anything less... and it 'mainly benefits NON-Microsoft employees'.

        Remember... we aren't talking about the 'bridge to Microsoft' that connects two portions of the corporate campus and which Microsoft is picking up something like 80% of the tab... we are talking about one of two over-water routes across Lake Washington that is heavily used by many p

      • by McBeer (714119)

        It's interesting that the "conservative" view here supports government spending on a project that mainly benefits Microsoft employees.

        You apparently don't live in Washington. Everybody in a huge radius of this bridge wants it replaced ASAP. It causes huge traffic problems every day and is ready to sink into Lake Washington on a moments notice.

        Ironically, replacing it benefits the average MSFT employee less then the average Seattle resident as the MSFT employee can scoot through on the Microsoft connector bus in the carpool lane at any time.

      • by AuMatar (183847)

        This is the main bridge connecting Seattle and Bellevue, the 2nd biggest job center in the area. The highway then continues on to Redmond, which is where MS lives. It'll help MS employees, but it will help tens of thousands of other area workers as well.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:02PM (#31251334) Journal

    From the article:
    While there are still some final design issues that need to be resolved with the City of Seattle, we should not let last-minute objections undermine the hard-won agreements already in place for the rest of the project. Doing so would cause yet more delay, increase the cost to taxpayers, and put this vital transportation and economic corridor at risk. The current bridge is 47 years old, and state engineers warn that it could sink in a major storm or earthquake.

    So its not like Microsoft is against it because they love to emit Carbon Dioxide. In fact, closing the bridge for construction will cause people to go around, emitting more CO2.

    Microsoft is mostly against it because it highly affects their employees in a negative way. It means more lates, or more inconvenience. Will the CO2 offset from more buses balance out the increased amount created during its upgrade? Who knows.

    Bill's Ted talk was actually great. He promoted the design and development of the new Nuclear reactors that burn the 99% of uranium - essentially the old toxic waste that we have sitting around. Yeah, everyone was afraid of nuclear technology partly because of the waste produced, and with modern super computers we've simulated that we can actually burn the waste produced by regular nuclear reactors. We just need to jump on it. Bill Gates goes through how Solar power and Geo power are great alternatives but they aren't as solid, as such they will only work towards extending our deadline to meet the Carbon 0 goal.

    These two events, the Ad and the Ted talk, are totally exclusive and neither are really about the other, and this isn't them butting heads. Bill Gates goes on about how the entire world needs to come together on a new project. This is one company against adding bus lanes to a bridge. Whoever lumped those two together didn't really look at the big picture.

    • by Ichijo (607641)

      Microsoft is mostly against it because it highly affects their employees in a negative way. It means more lates, or more inconvenience.

      Or more telecommuting.

    • by Hatta (162192)

      These two events, the Ad and the Ted talk, are totally exclusive and neither are really about the other, and this isn't them butting heads. Bill Gates goes on about how the entire world needs to come together on a new project. This is one company against adding bus lanes to a bridge. Whoever lumped those two together didn't really look at the big picture.

      Nope, they manufactured a controversy to get more page views. You at least clicked through to the slashdot discussion, and probably the article itself.

    • We've known about breeder reactors for a while, just to point out. You know how nuclear energy was supposed to make electricity too cheap to meter? Replacing all our coal with breeder reactors would likely make that the case - according to wikipedia normal reactors use about 1% of the energy, and breeder reactors can use almost all of the rest. That coupled with the fact that they can use cheaper fuel - thorium instead of uranium - and it looks like the way to go.

  • by oldhack (1037484) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:03PM (#31251338)
    Yeah, MS is opposing the redesign because it needs to pump CO2, obviously.
  • Then which side are us slashdot'ers supposed to hate?
  • by Suiggy (1544213) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:04PM (#31251360)
    Microsoft isn't opposing the bridge design. They're opposing further delay on starting the bridge project. They're for the bridge redesign, not against it.

    First line in the article.

    Microsoft took out a full-page color ad in the Seattle Times today opposing any further “delay” on replacing the SR-520 bridge

    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:18PM (#31251562) Journal

      Microsoft isn't opposing the bridge design. They're opposing further delay on starting the bridge project. They're for the bridge redesign, not against it.

      Microsoft is opposing a re-redesign of the bridge.
      Mostly because they want it built sooner rather than later.

      Feature creep is how most any type of project can destroy its schedule and end up over budget.

      • by Blakey Rat (99501)

        Bingo. Basically, the bridge is at the point where it can be sunk by a storm... when that happens, not only will they have *no choice* in replacing it, but it'll cause the entire region to grind to a standstill. There's only one other bridge across the lake, but both bridges are cram-packed during rush hour now, so that other bridge can't take the additional cars.

        Like everything in Seattle, getting infrastructure improvements *done* is nearly impossible. I don't know why it's so hard here, but man it really

  • by SeattleGameboy (641456) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:06PM (#31251384) Journal
    Seriously, do you even live in Seattle? Do you know what 520 bridge is like? Do you even know all the politics around this bridge redesign? No? Then, STFU!!! This bridge goes through VERY wealthy neighborhoods on both sides of the bridge. These neighborhoods have been dead set against ANY expansion of the bridge and they have been backing any and all candidates with proposals that would delay the contructions of the new bridge. These redesigns have been decades in making, while the bridge is hanging by the thread on every major windstorm. The sucker needs to get replaces ASAP. It does not matter if it is 6 lanes or 8 lanes. It needs to move forward for the good of all people living in the Puget Sound area.
    • by raftpeople (844215) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:22PM (#31251646)
      In addition, mass transit across 520 is going to solve what problem? People are converging at that point from up and down the Eastside and unless you extend the light rail to Bothell, Kirkland, Woodinville, Redmond, Bellevue, etc. etc. you won't have any riders. But none of those cities (with possible exceptions of MS campus in Redmond, and the city of Bellevue) would get anywhere near the volume of ridership to make it worthwhile.

      I've come to the conclusion we are really better off with buses and a few more lanes.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by bmk67 (971394)

      These redesigns have been decades in making, while the bridge is hanging by the thread on every major windstorm.

      Indeed. The SR-520 bridge is a floating bridge and is nearly 50 years old. It carries far more traffic than it was designed to carry, and in any case, is nearing the end of it's design life.

      To put things in perspective, the Hood Canal Bridge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hood_Canal_Bridge) is of similar age, design, construction, and span. The Hood Canal bridge suffered a catastrophic failure during a windstorm in 1979. It was rebuilt and reopened in 1982.

    • These redesigns have been decades in making, while the bridge is hanging by the thread on every major windstorm.

      Indeed. Washington State has three major floating bridges (I90 and SR520 on Lake Washington, and SR104 on the Hood Canal*), the 520 bridge is the only one that hasn't done 'submarine duty' because of storms.** The Hood Canal bridge lost it's western half in a 1979 windstorm, and the I90 bridge lost a chunk out of the middle due to human error and heavy storms in 1990.

      And the 520 bridge is old, w

    • by westlake (615356)
      Seriously, do you even live in Seattle? Do you know what 520 bridge is like?

      The 520 is the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge. [google.com] across Lake Washington - a pontoon bridge. [wa.gov]

      March 8, 2006 - 5:10 p.m. to 4 a.m. March 9, 2006 Crews closed the bridge after on-site inspectors heard unusual noises. Those noises prompted a closer look inside the mechanical parts of the draw pontoons. They found one bolt sheared off, several loose bolts, and flaking paint which is an indication of weakening steel. They immediately clo

  • Not Contradictory (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:11PM (#31251466) Homepage

    Nothing in this is contradictory. Like most people, particularly those with power and wealth, he wants everyone else to do something to reduce carbon emissions while he flies around in his private jet and pumps megawatts into his electro-fortress. See also Al Gore's mansion and The Governator's private jet commute from Malibu to Sacramento. Contrast with Ed Begley Jr, who seems to practice what he preaches -- and is the exception that proves the rule.

    The rich and famous are only required to appear as though they want a better future, or we would rise up and slay them. Good PR does more to protect their aristocracy than making sacrifices -- the PR is all that the serfs know of the nobles.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      Even worse, his efforts to prevent malaria are likely to result in millions and millions of additional living humans.

      But maybe it all doesn't boil down to any simple calculus.

    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      If dollar bills are taken out of bank accounts and placed directly in politician's pockets, Does that reduce their carbon footprint? The Politician would tend to think so...
    • Emphasis mine:

      The rich and famous are only required to appear as though they want a better future, or we would rise up and slay them.

      Oh come on, we would do no such thing. We don't live in a D&D fantasy world, we don't live in some silly movie. We would just go about our business and grumble and complain about one more thing. The rich and famous get away with whatever they want because we (in general) envy them. End of story.

    • Certainly Bill Gates doesn't want -ME- to build a nuclear reactor all on my own. He clearly mentions its a project that has to be undertaken by a lot of governments, not just a corporation or a few individuals.

      He has even actually gone out of his way to fund some projects of the like. But he knows that he alone nor Microsoft could accomplish the goal. It requires a unilateral push by many countries across the planet.

      His talk was more directed to those in political power, or to give a direction to the people

    • There is a "power and wealth" angle to this story, but your angle ain't it.

      At both end of this bridge is two of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Puget Sound; Montlake and Median. Montlake and its west coastline neighborhoods of the Lake Washington is the "old Seattle money" and Medina and its east coast line neighborhoods are where the "new tech money" billionaires live (including Gates).

      They have been waging a major battle against the 520 redesign for over a decade. They do not want anything other th
    • RTFA: They are opposing a *delay* in replacing the existing bridge (four lanes, two each way, none HOV, liable to be destroyed in the next major earthquake) with a new bridge (six lanes, two of which are HOV, with earthquake resistant construction). Note that the new bridge is primarily useful to carpoolers and buses, not to people commuting by themselves (and it's HOV-3, which is a decent bar, HOV-2 is way too lenient). It may not be perfect, but it does encourage carpooling and mass transit, both of which
  • by dreadlord76 (562584) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:27PM (#31251714)
    Microsoft is not opposing transit. Microsoft runs a whole fleet of buses to reduce the number of cars on the road. As many comments indicate, this is about a bridge that desperately needs replacing. As someone who think Seattle is in another dimension, I wonder what Ravenna housing prices would do if 520 fails, and those Microsoft commuters move to Redmond so they can get to work.
  • So? (Score:4, Funny)

    by legio_noctis (1411089) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:31PM (#31251788)
    Seeing as Bill Gates no longer works at Microsoft, I doubt they see eye-to-eye at all. Nor do they need to, or we to know whether or nether they are.
  • by Xeno man (1614779) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @05:32PM (#31251800)
    I think it's pretty much a non story, and I think most agree since nearly every commenter so far hasn't bothered to RTFA and proved it with ignorant comments.

    Basically Bill Gates gives a talk about the environment and says we need to burn hippies for energy (or something with nuclear power, I haven't watched the video yet) and people cheer.
    Microsoft, which Bill Gates has next to nothing to do with anymore, says to the city, stop fucking around and build the bridge you have been planing since forever before the old one falls down, but because some hippies want to make last minute design changes like powering the lights with bicycles (or maybe adding more HOV lanes or something) which would mean redoing a lot of work and added years of delays, somehow makes Microsoft anti environment.
  • by wampus (1932)

    The cancer that is killing slashdot or the AIDS that is killing slashdot? You decide!

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @06:55PM (#31252864) Homepage

    How does this indicate that Microsoft isn't green?

    Maybe Microsoft is simply looking at the reality: there is no incentive for people who might cross that bridge to use public transit. People who are able to afford a lengthy daily drive to work are also likely to be able to justify not sitting another 20+ minutes on a bus/train with strangers.

    Also, public transit has shown to do one thing very well in the US: bring criminals from their urban homes to suburbia where they can commit crimes and then hop back on the train in time for dinner.

    Upper-middle-class people do not ride on public transit unless it is very, very clean, safe, and private. (This is partially because train lines seem to typically go from urban downtown to their pleasant neighborhoods, resulting in urban scum coming out to deal drugs and expand their turf in the relatively safe 'burbs.)

    Maybe Microsoft is opposed to the lengthy extensions to the bill proposing public transit because said public transit would then come out of the Redmond tax coffers.

    There's probably close to a half dozen plausible reasons why MS might be opposed to this bridge, and it has nothing to do with how "Green" they are.

    Why don't you call them "Reds" and have McCarthy go after them? (That's what this Green bullshit is becoming - the New McCarthyism.)

    I'm going to go burn some tires.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Upper-middle-class people do not ride on public transit unless it is very, very clean, safe, and private. (This is partially because train lines seem to typically go from urban downtown to their pleasant neighborhoods, resulting in urban scum coming out to deal drugs and expand their turf in the relatively safe 'burbs.)

      Ok, I know this not to be true, not only here in Europe, but in the US as well. I have lived in NYC, and I can tell you that there are *a lot* of upper middle class (and even wealthy) people who use the subway there, and it's not exactly clean, or private. (it's much safer than driving though)

      Pure bullshit. The part about transit bringing criminals to suburbs too, can you point to *any* serious study that supports this?

  • by steveha (103154) on Tuesday February 23, 2010 @07:47PM (#31253520) Homepage

    The summary is unbelievably slanted; whoever tagged this story "troll" was correct. Here is the complete situation; judge for yourself.

    Lake Washington is a tall, skinny lake that's rather deep in the middle. It takes a while to drive around it; if you bicycle around the circumference of the lake, it's about 50 miles total.

    On the west side of the lake, you have a tall, skinny city: Seattle. The biggest city in the state, lots of people live there.

    On the east side of the lake, you have a tall, skinny populated area. But it isn't just one city; it's Bothell, Woodinville, Kirkland, Bellevue, Redmond, Renton, and a few small ones. Collectively these are known as "the Eastside".

    Because Lake Washington is so deep, an ordinary bridge is impractical. That is why the three longest floating bridges in the world are on Lake Washington: the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge (I tend to slip and call it the "floating point bridge") is the one with highway 520, and it is the longest single floating bridge in the world. (The other two are used for I-90 a couple of miles to the south of 520.) By the way, I suspect that one of the reasons we have the longest floating bridges is the fact that the Chittenden Locks in Seattle allow for some control over the water level of Lake Washington; if we have torrential rain, engineers can just open the locks and let the waters drain out of the lake system and lower the water level again to the safe zone for the floating bridges.

    When the 520 bridge was first built, all the action was in Seattle. Not that many people lived on the Eastside, and not that many Seattle people needed to go to the Eastside. But Microsoft and a bunch of other technical companies are on the Eastside, so now many people actually commute from Seattle to the Eastside over the 520 bridge.

    There are rich neighborhoods right on the water, on both sides of the lake. The fabled small city of Medina, where Bill Gates has his famous house, is right by the 520 bridge. The rich folks have been successfully blocking all attempts to upgrade the 520 bridge; as I understand it, their attitude is that they already don't like the car noise, so why would they want more traffic to be able to flow over the bridge? The area has been talking about replacing the 520 bridge for something like 14 years now, and for most of that time the project has been blocked.

    But the 520 bridge really needs to be replaced. If you measure the life of the bridge in terms of how many cars have driven over it, the bridge is way, way past its planned lifetime already. A serious wind storm could sink it. A serious earthquake could sink it. And the consequences for traffic would be epic (not in a good way).

    Right now, all it takes is a Husky football game at the University of Washington, putting extra traffic on the already overloaded bridge, and the whole area is just about paralyzed. Normally the I-90 bridge is fine, but when the 520 gets bad enough and traffic diverts to the other bridge, both bridges can be parking lots. It will already be bad when the 520 bridge is closed for construction of the new bridge; I seriously hope that they can mostly build the new bridge somewhere and float it into place with minimal down time. If the bridge fails in a wind storm, we will be many months, possibly years without any bridge and the traffic will be dire. In short, any further delay in building the bridge is Not A Good Idea.

    Now, the existing bridge is two traffic lanes each way. There is no carpool lane. There is no shoulder. Any time a vehicle stalls, a tow truck gets over there ASAP and pulls it off the bridge, but it still does horrible things to the already horrible traffic. As other posters have noted, the 520 carpool lane disappears right before the bridge, and the westbound neck-down where three lanes go to two lanes is the single most congested piece of road in the whole state.

    So, we have a bridge plan finally that is ready to move ahead. It ha

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