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Understanding Climate Change

Understanding Climate Change

This week our guest is professor and fellow of the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University, Mike Berners-Lee.

With a brother who is often referred to as the inventor of the internet, Mike Berners-Lee carries on his family’s legacy of scientific brilliance through the domain of climate change. Specifically, Mike is considered one of the leading experts studying carbon footprints and has written extensively on the subject in books such as The Carbon Footprint of Everything and There Is No Planet B. In this episode we discuss Mike’s work more broadly, focusing on some of the big questions and criticisms facing climate science. For example, what are the common misconceptions around climate change? Is it man-made? Can we fix it? And what role will technology play?

Find out more about Mike and his work at Small World Consulting or follow him at twitter.com/MikeBernersLee


Learn more about Singularity: ⁠⁠su.org⁠⁠

Host: Steven Parton⁠⁠ - ⁠⁠LinkedIn⁠⁠ /⁠⁠ Twitter⁠⁠

Music by: Amine el Filali

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The following transcription was created automatically. Please be aware that there may be spelling or grammatical errors.

Mike Berners-Lee [00:00:01]  The the huge challenge for technology is how can we find a way of selecting and running with only the technologies that are good for people planet and leaving the other ones on the shelf? And that's very difficult to do it because these technologies allow us to do things that we couldn't do before and bring us efficiency improvements and in a competitive market economy. It is incredibly difficult to resist an efficiency improvement because if anyone adopts it, everybody else has to. 

Steven Parton [00:00:48] Hello, everyone. My name is Steven Parton and you are listening to the feedback loop by Singularity this week. My guest is Professor and Fellow of the Institute for Social Futures at Lancaster University, Mike Berners-Lee. With a brother who is often referred to as the inventor of the Internet, Mike Berners-Lee also carries on his family's legacy of scientific brilliance through the domain of climate change. Specifically, Mike is considered one of the leading experts studying carbon footprints, and he's written extensively on the subject in books such as The Carbon Footprint of Everything and There is No Planet B. In this episode, we discuss Mike's work more broadly, focusing on some of the big questions and criticisms facing climate science. For example, what are some of the common misconceptions around climate science? Is it manmade or not? Can we fix it? And what role will technology ultimately play in addressing this issue? Mike has a very honest and well-articulated understanding of our current situation, and I hope that you'll enjoy the conversation as much as I did. So without further ado, everyone, please welcome to the feedback loop. Mike Berners-Lee. Great man. Well, I think because climate change is such a large and complex issue, I think the best place I want to start with you is trying to just get a big picture perspective. And with that being said, I would love to hear your framing of the problem and what your basic stance or approach is to addressing it. 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:02:22] Okay, Well, climate change has to be seen as one symptom of something much bigger that's going on for humanity right now. And if you want to do anything sensible in response to climate change, that's how you have to look at it. So what's that bigger thing? That bigger thing is that humans have recently become such a powerful species that we are the most the biggest influence of the whole ecosystem. And some people have a big word for it. They call it the Anthropocene. It just means the era in which humans are the thing affecting the ecosystem. And we've arrived at it pretty recently. 100 years ago, we could smash up the whole world even if we tried. 50 years ago, we needed to do something really stupid, like have a nuclear war. Now we just have to be careful enough. We are so powerful that unless we are incredibly careful. We will smash the place up. And in fact, we are at the moment not being careful enough and we are smashing high speed. So. What's it like in this Anthropocene? It's a multidisciplinary challenge. There are physical dimensions to it as a climate crisis and linked to that and energy transition. At the same time as we deal with that and inescapably connected, there is a biodiversity crisis and while we deal with that, we need to feed a rising population. And while we deal with that, we need to deal with a whole host of pollutants, not least plastics, but a whole tonne of micro pollutants that we have no idea how to ever get back out of the ecosystem. So all these things coming together at once. And the good news is that from a technical perspective, they turned out to be so challenging. But so which takes us unavoidably into a whole series of deeper questions about what would it take for humankind to be able to solve these technically solvable challenges. That takes us into questions about how our economics is working. It's unsurprising that an economic framework having pre Anthropocene turns out to need at least a big tweak to the Anthropocene. How we do politics, how we solve problems, how we run society, how we do education, all of these things. I've been honed in the pre Anthropocene era. I'm probably at the heart of it all. If you really want to boil it down, there are some values that humans now have to have as cultural norms. We have to cultivate them as fast as we can, because in this globalized world, like it or not, the Anthropocene challenge requires us to be much more respectful of each other at the global level than we've ever had to be before. And it requires us to be much more passionate and discerning and insistent on truth as best we can discern it. And we've ever had to be before. So as probably as probably about the crux of the challenge. Another way of framing it is to say that we have. An urgent evolutionary challenge to suddenly fit the new context we're in. And that's about learning how to be a global society. 

Steven Parton [00:06:02] Yeah. What are some of those evolutionary mal adaptations that we're bringing to the table that are keeping us maybe in a, um, unprepared state to deal with this problem? 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:06:14] So we've had a few decades of well, one way of describing it is the neoliberal narrative, the idea that the only way that humans have ever managed to achieve anything is by harnessing their greed, and that we're all fundamentally selfish. And that's just how the world works. And it's been shored up by some supposed science. For example, Dawkins book, The Selfish Gene, was, you know, was used to support that idea. Only the most selfish genes survived and so on. That turns out not to be right, that the evidence actually from neuroscience and from genetics is it's the most collaborative genes that survive the best. And the evidence from neuroscience is that we're capable of cultivating certain values. Now it's a variable, and the evidence from history is that we are capable through a deliberate effort of cultivating certain value sets. So, you know, and I don't espouse this because I think I'm especially better at it than anybody else. But I think the logic of the argument may in the end takes us to an inescapable reality that we have to have greater empathy for all the people on this planet than we've ever had to have before. Because, like it or not, we will sink or swim. 8 billion of us pretty well all together. And so that's the empathy one. Or if you just want a really simple world, we just need to learn to be kind to each other, but not just to the people that we meet. And we know people on the other side of the world. That we will influence without ever meeting. That's the reality of globalization. And we globalized, like it or not. And then the other one is truth, because we're in an era in which the complexity of the challenges we face is such that we need the best view of reality as much as it can ever be discerned that we can possibly get. And yet it's ever easier. For anyone who wants to to confuse our view with that reality. So we just need to get far sharper at our critical thinking and far better at taking appropriate action. When a person or a media or business or an institution of any kind is found to have been careless with the truth. 

Steven Parton [00:09:03] Yeah. You mentioned in one of your earlier books, I believe that there is a large economic problem at the heart of this that's very hard to overturn, right? It's very hard to make this transition without having almost an economic collapse in a sense. 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:09:19] No, I don't think it's collapse. 

Steven Parton [00:09:21] Sure. Sure. I guess I'm just saying that there's a there's a large, momentous machine here that has been building for a long time and is very reliant on this form of energy that it appears that we need to switch away from. And it has a lot of incentives around it, too, that make it kind of hard to access. Maybe, you know, the better, better angels of our nature, like empathy and kindness. So in your mind, how do we start that transition when we are on such a massive foundation that has so much momentum? 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:09:52] Yeah. So what we need is a. Pretty holistic systemic change across many dimensions and includes because our values are the way we do the economics and the way we think about politics. We make decisions, all these things, and you can push and push for this system change and it feels so intractable. But it's easy to think, Oh, we're not getting anywhere. And that seems we never can. But actually systems don't change like that. What happens is the conditions for change become get closer and closer and you don't see any of that change. And then suddenly the conditions that enable that change arrive and suddenly the change can be very rapid indeed. So that's what we should take heart from. But I think it's amazing at the moment they how many people, how the majority of us are so wedded to, for example, an economic construct about GDP growth and so on. It's almost it's almost impossible out in mainstream economic politics to use any other kind of narrative. And yet the logic of the argument is so clear cut that GDP growth does not track at all well, in fact, it tracks negative the well-being of people and planet even, I'm quite sure, even in a short time frame. It's just a bogus thing to be pursuing. And yet we're somehow don't have the kind of creativity and the confidence yet. As a global society to ditch that narrative. But we need to we need to build the alternative narratives. We need to show that they work and we need to take them to the point where they become the most exciting narrative and not something to be scared of. And so that when the Chancellor of the Exchequer or whoever, and that would be UK voice, when whoever it is is banging on about GDP growth, everybody just yawns at them and says, Come on mate, come back to us when you've got something more interesting to talk about. Some, some, some metrics that we're really excited about. So we need to. Unlock ourselves from some very stuck thinking and. I do think it's surprising how many people who think of themselves as really smart can't unlock themselves yet. From that old traditional thinking that was born out of a different context and is no longer fit for the world we're in today. 

Steven Parton [00:12:34] Yeah. And what would you say to those who say that? In a lot of ways the I guess you could say green movement or the fight against climate change is just another way to continue that economic greed, that kind of Hobbesian approach where it's easy to make money off people who want to do something good for the world, but spend that money in a way that's not really efficient or pragmatic or actually addressing the solutions. This is something like Bjorn Lomborg, who did the Cool It documentary, I believe, and he talks a lot about the inefficiencies of the panic around climate and that it's investing in technologies and solutions that aren't really practical or useful, you know? How do you reconcile these ideas? 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:13:19] Okay, so they are bogus. Talk specifically about Bjorn Lomborg, because coming on for 20 years ago, I was making a big career decision about whether to stop all of my current work and get into climate change. And Bjorn Lomborg had just written The Skeptical Environmentalist, and his challenge was that people like me, well, psychologically wedded to some doom and gloom thing and climate change was not what we should be worrying about the rest of it. And I thought that was a pretty serious challenge to try and address. I thought I should have a good answer to it. So I spent about a week looking at his work and looking at what other people have made of his work, and I found that I could myself find quite a few errors in that book that he'd made. And then I started finding other people. Keselowski Cataloging those areas by the hundreds, actually, literally by 101. And what I also found was that Neil Lomborg wasn't facing up to any of them, not one. Right. So straightaway you've got that tells you enough evidence that he can't be trusted on anything at all. So I talked about the need to hone our critical thinking skills. One of the things we need to get much better at doing is. It is knowing the difference, crossing the difference between a piece, a well-founded argument. And an argument that sounds good, but actually can't be trusted. Mm hmm. And having a firm basis, a firm and credible basis for being able to tell that difference. Bjorn Lomborg is an articulate man and his book is about fanfic, and it's got about 2000 references at the back. Actually, a lot of those references are just going to turn out to be a load of nonsense if you follow. So that's what I say. 

Steven Parton [00:15:29] Fair enough. Fair enough. Well, with with that being said, you know, those references take us in a lot of directions, right? Maybe there's a lot of What about ism here where you can point to all of these many other things to try to detract from some of the key ideas that we can focus on? To that end, you obviously do a lot of put a lot of emphasis on the carbon footprint. But what are the kind of metrics that you think are really important for us to pay attention to here as we navigate this? 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:15:58] Well, I. Do a lot of work with carbon emissions and carbon footprints as really as a way into a much wider systemic challenge. So if a business comes to me and says, I want to know, we want to know what our carbon footprint is and we want to have net zero targets. I say, do you mean you want to make an appropriate response to the climate and ecological crisis? And if they say yes, I say, okay, well, let's have a let's take a look at what it would be like to be doing that. So, yeah, we do look at carbon footprint and we do look at carbon targets and so on. But we also look in a much more holistic way. We look at the goods and services that they're offering. We look at the extent to which those goods and services and naval transition to an Anthropocene fit economy, or whereas to the old economy that we're in, we look at the climate narrative, we look at what they're saying about climate change, not just when they're talking about climate change, but the stuff that's kind of woven into everything else they're talking about. We look at the level of coherence. We look at the business model and ask ourselves, Would transition to an Anthropocene based economy represent an opportunity or a threat to this business? And if it represents a threat, we say very clearly, you must change your business model. Until such a transition would actually become an opportunity for you. Because until you can do that, you're going to be fighting against all kinds of encumbrances and everything you do, and it'll just never work. So that's the kind of approach we take in terms of other hard metrics. Well, carbon emissions and even supply chain carbon emissions. Ah, in some ways amazingly simple. A kilo of carbon dioxide is a kilo of carbon dioxide. Wherever it is in the world, it has a fairly well known impact. And so it's possible to be a bit reductionist with them and it's still meaningful. You take biodiversity and you've opened up a ton more complexity. So I'm not saying let's not have metrics, but what we need to do with all our metrics is we need to keep them in their place. We need to understand that they're all simplifications. We need to stand back and say, Is this metric? Telling us something useful that we can use or. Is it actually pointing us towards some kind of perverse action that if we stand back a bit further, we see we have other reasons why we need to do something else instead? 

Steven Parton [00:18:51] Mm hmm. So given things like the carbon footprint, you know, which is a big focus, obviously in terms of heating, especially, what are what is the realistic impact that we can have? Right. A lot of people would argue that this is a normal cycle of the planet and that we are having a lot of hubris in terms of the impact that we can actually have. So so for you, how tangible can we how tangibly can we affect the rise in temperature and the changes that are taking place? 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:19:25] Yeah. So people who say that this is going to be put down to natural effects are just flying in the face of the science, Right? It makes an okay story. And it's it sounds plausible when you push it out on the radio waves. And how is the average radio listener supposed to be able to tell the difference? But if you actually take into it and you trust the proper, credible scientists, what you find is it's absolutely clear cut that the vast, vast, vast majority of the climate change that we're experiencing right now is being pushed by humans. Yeah, absolutely. Nearly all of it. And even possibly, possibly counteracting natural effects that could conceivably be going slightly in the other direction. But the idea that it's not humans is an absolute nonsense. So when I when I talk about the passion we need to have for the truth as well as it can be discerned. I think you've just illustrated just how insistent we need to be on high standards of this, because it's so easy to confuse the arguments. It's so easy to put something out there that sounds sounds credible. And especially we're all humans. The psychology of climate change is interesting. It's quite an uncomfortable message. And as humans, we we defend ourselves against uncomfortable messages. And if somebody gives us an argument that says it might not be true, very tempting for us not to ask too hard questions about it. And so that's why we need to really make it. We need to really react against people who are careless with the truth. 

Steven Parton [00:21:23] And do you think then, that we can have a tangible impact on the feedback loop? Right. Is this is this process that we've kick started kind of out of our control at this point, or do you feel optimistic that we really can inhibit or lessen the the negative effects? 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:21:44] Well, it's not proven whether we can or can't. It's not proven that it is too late. The reality is. That we don't actually understand. Enough about how positive feedback mechanisms work or will work. We don't know for sure, but we haven't already triggered some catastrophic step change in the climate that we couldn't control. What? No matter what we did. Mm hmm. It looks unlikely, but we don't know for sure. That's very uncomfortable because we like to think of ourselves as this fantastic species that knows exactly what it's doing. We don't. We exert this influence on this planet without knowing what the consequences are going to be. Can we begin? Can we solve it? Well, not by carrying on as we are. So just to. Clarify that point. If you look at the. Carbon emissions come. From emissions from fossil fuel use over the last 60 years, what you see is a rising straight line. Pretty well. You see a little kink in it when for when the Soviet Union collapsed, you see a little kink for a financial crisis in 2008, and you see a slightly bigger kink for a pandemic. But apart from that, you pretty well see a straight line. And what you don't see if you were on Mars looking at that data to try and understand what humans are thinking about doing at the moment, you wouldn't see any evidence at all that we've noticed climate change. None at all. Quite seriously, none. That's up to 27 calls. Count them. 27 cops. Right. And they're not getting us anywhere. And that's because actually where there's a system dynamic of growth. Energy growth begets energy growth and a free market economy. And one way or another, there's a kind of as a global dynamic that goes on. And if you if you try and interrupt it just by some people trying to cut their carbon footprint, some companies trying to do the right thing, some few countries trying to set targets. What you find is there's a very nasty tendency of the emissions to just migrate to elsewhere in the system so that at the global systemic level you don't notice any change, whatever. So where am I getting to? You ask the question, can we get on top of this? Not by carrying on with the approach we're taking. If you take the cop 27 cops and at the end of the 27th cop, we are still not talking explicitly about leaving the world's fossil fuels in the ground. Right. And actually, it's clear cut that needs to happen. Absolutely clear, cop. We are talking about these things. National decarbonization commitments. Unfortunately, because of the system dynamics that I've mentioned. The sum total of the change that we get is not going to be what you what you'd hope for by adding up the indices. You won't get that because of all the all the leakage. So that whole approach has got to change. What we need is to interrupt the dynamics of climate change at the global system level. Somehow we need a way of leaving the world's fossil fuels in the ground. I'm open to offers about the best mechanism, but the simply. The simple mechanism that I think would work better than all the others I've heard of is a carbon price. And which is hard to implement. But once it's implemented, it will. It will. It is capable of doing it. It's high enough. It's capable of taking this off fossil your. But unfortunately, the fossil fuel industry has pumped billions of dollars, is very well funded, as have pumped billions of dollars into extremely cynical and well funded misinformation and lobbying campaigns. And it's capable of preventing any policies. That can bring that about. So one way of looking at the IPCC is and all policy making is that the fossil fuel lobby will allow policy makers to say and do anything they like as long as it doesn't stand a realistic chance of inhibiting the rate at which fossil fuel is taken out of the ground. And so, yeah. 

Steven Parton [00:26:29] Well, policy obviously seems like something that's going to be very important. But you know, coming from, you know, working with Singularity, the question I have to ask you is what is technology's role in this? And this seems to me to be a very interesting question because we have things like electric cars that have rare earth metals and are electrified by coal plants. And we have things like cryptocurrency attempts to maybe change the economic model. But I believe that you list in your book that cryptocurrency and Bitcoin mining has the equivalent carbon footprint as a volcano. I believe so, yeah. So a lot of these technological solutions that seem very necessary in a way, a lot of the innovations that seem like they're going to help us get to something like a renewable feels like they're coming at a cost, are really undermining their own value in a sense. So how do you see technology doing this in a way that doesn't just contribute to the problem more? 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:27:30] Okay. So I've asked a really fascinating and important question and what I'm going to say is going to be. Stands to be potentially quite a difficult message for some of the people listening to this podcast. Mm hmm. So let's stand right back and. Look at the role of technology to date. So it's clear that technology has brought us many fantastic things. You and I are having a remote a virtual conversation now wouldn't be possible. I'm in a comfortable room despite what is nasty outside. I mean, technology is undoubtedly porous. Many, many, many brilliant things. And technology is also bringing us lots of efficiency improvements. It's made us more efficient at almost anything you can think of. And it's also true to say that technology has taken us to the very dangerous place that humankind is at at the moment. And there was some surprising there was some things about technology that are surprising to many people. So people think that often that efficiency improvements automatically lead to some sort of reduction in environmental impacts. Actually, that's not the case. The way the dynamics of growth work, especially in a market economy, is that when an efficiency improvement comes, it actually stimulates a growth in demand and activity which is higher than the proportionate efficiency improvement. So what happens is the amount of everything that we do goes up by a lot. And actually the environmental impact, all the burdens associated with all the inputs go up by a bit. And efficiency is actually the mechanism by which we grow. All the stuff that we do for which we sometimes get benefits, but it's also the means by which we grow our inputs as well and our positions. So it's clear that technology we need some technologies like crazy to get us through this situation. The technologies, for example, allow us to have an energy supply that can let us live well despite without the fossil fuel. It's clear that when we're constraining the fossil fuel, anything that gives us an efficiency improvement in anything, that's all we do that we value in life. Will be even more valuable than ever before. That efficiency improvement. We will be so hungry for efficiency improvements. But it's also true to say that we need to renegotiate our relationship with technology because as a rule, technology is just pese is taking us into a worse and worse place. Efficiency improvements are driving more environmental impacts, and we. You just got to look across the ecosystem to see all these fantastic technological innovations, every kind of chemical you can think of, for example. You know, and. And we're finding that they actually turn out to have a ton of impacts that we never expected. So. The the huge challenge for technology is how can we find a way of selecting and running with only the technologies that are good for keeping the planet and leaving the other ones on the shelf? And that's very difficult to do it because these technologies allow us to do things that we couldn't do before and bring us efficiency improvements and in a competitive market economy. It is incredibly difficult to resist an efficiency improvement because if anyone adopts it, everybody else has to. Otherwise they're commercially disadvantaged. And that's an incredible challenge for humanity right now. And. It's challenging for the tech industry because it's tempting. And comforting to believe that technology will just save this. And actually, that's turns out not to be the case at all. It is true that in the right context, the right technologies can really help us. It's also true that technology on its own, just the blanket trajectory of technology, won't it will take us to it is taking us to an ever more dangerous position. And it's also true that at the moment it looks like you can almost say humans don't have much agency over the technology, over the trajectory of technology. So we like to think that we must be in control of this stuff because we invented it. But I've just described the dynamics of technological innovation in a market economy that. Actually, it's very hard to have agency. You know, humans are just about capable of resisting biological and chemical weapons most of the time. But that's a very clear cut case. But everybody's scared about what you just mentioning. Right. And even then, we have hiccups occasionally. But, you know, other things, like you mentioned the electric car. Well, the electric car deployed in the right way and in a modest way to replace the petrol car. Can be helpful. But more and more bigger and bigger electric cars is just worse and worse than having invented the electric car at all. So somehow we need to get we need to develop that agency over the trajectory of technology. And I would be another example. Do we have any deliberate agency over the trajectory of any aspects of AI? 

Steven Parton [00:33:39] Yeah, that's a whole nother conversation. Well, given given that, though, do you see any avenues or technologies that are promising? Do you look at something like solar or wind or nuclear or anything else really, that you're thinking this could be a path forward that I would love to see more of? 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:33:58] Yeah. Yeah. So the good news is that the technologies that we need. To transition to a more sustainable global economy. Are there or thereabouts? Mm hmm. Um, so just to look at the energy transition, where's the energy going to come from? The big deal is solar at the global level. That's the biggest by far. And it turns out that was there were impacts, environmental impacts on creating solar panels. That turns out to be doable. We can supplement it with wind and tidal and hydro and maybe a bit of nuclear. We can debate that one. So that's a little that's all good. We've got the we've got the wherewithal to create an energy supply. That's worth nothing to us if we keep on growing our energy demand in the way that we are at the moment. So that's only worth something to us if we can curtail our energy use so that the renewable supply replaces the fossil fuels instead of augmenting. And that means we need to put a constraint on somewhere. And actually the place to put that constraint is on the fossil fuel as it comes out of the ground. So that's the energy generation. Then we have this energy. Most of it in the wrong parts of the world at the wrong time, at the wrong time of year for the people who need it. So we've got some other challenges. We need to find a way of storing it. That's where hydrogen comes in, in a very big way. So electrolysis and there's emerging technologies about that to create electrolysis at massive scale. Batteries aren't the solution. For most of our energy storage because of the environmental associated impacts associated with them. Unless we get a breakthrough, that's quite a long way off. There are other little bits and pieces like hydro storage and so on, but mainly it's hydrogen. Then we got to look at how we transport that energy and we can put a bit through power lines. But again, hydrogen is a big deal because although it's quite difficult to transport hydrogen through pipes or liquefied or compressed. All those methods are doable. Problematic, but doable. Mm hmm. And then we need to convert the energy into the form we want to use it in, which means converting hydrogen back into electricity again, but using some of it as hygiene as well. And then we need to have I talked about storage of hydrogen. I mean, we need to find out how to store it underground and above ground. So that's we'll do them. And then we need to be able to use hydrogen, basically hydrogen and electricity for all our energy needs. Right. And that's mainly doable. But we've got some crunch points. The biggest the single biggest crunch point is around long distance flights. Mm hmm. Which can't be done with electricity unless we have a huge breakthrough on battery energy density. And it can't be done with hydrogen unless you completely redesign the airplane because of the bulk of the hydrogen. And maybe it can be done with ammonia, which is kind of a hybrid chemical solution. So but so, yeah, I mean, we have we have those technologies and none of them will help us unless they are implemented alongside a fossil fuel constraint. 

Steven Parton [00:37:32] And one of the things you mention there feel very big, right? And this is one of the big challenges of this problem. So to kind of hone in as we come to a close here, what kind of message or optimism or guidance do you offer to the average person or maybe even people who are, you know, trying to tangibly do something, maybe a startup or an inventor or something? What kind of encouragement do you offer them to face a problem that honestly just feels so gargantuan and that many of us feel futile in the face of. 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:38:09] Okay. So my optimistic message is that it's not proven that we can't get through this. But it is proven if we carry on hoping that some kind of maybe business as usual solution is going to do it for us. So we need some pretty radical thinking. And so I don't really have an optimistic message for some startup entrepreneur that thinks that the economy basically functioning in the way that it does. Is is going to do it. Yeah. But I do have an optimistic message that says, you know what? If we all push for the cultural change, for the global empathy that we need, making sure our politicians have that global empathy, making sure that our media sources are truthful, be really discerning about that. You know, maybe it's about peaceful protest, of which there's a lot going on on my side of the Atlantic, less on your side. But, you know, if we push for that kind of thing and let our politicians and our leaders know that we need to have this change, then it's not proven that we can't have it. And just by the way, the quality of our lives will go up, not down, but we might as we make that transition. 

Steven Parton [00:39:29] Yeah. I mean, improving quality of life seems like a good goal to have. Mike, I want to respect your time, so I'm going to try to bring this to an end here. But any, any closing thoughts that you'd like to leave us with? 

Mike Berners-Lee [00:39:39] I don't know whether you want to include this or not, but one observation I would make is that. It's more some of the things I talk about are more difficult to talk about. On the American side of the Atlantic, and they are on the U.K. side of the Atlantic. And what I would say is that over the last three or four years, the U.K. environment has moved on quite a long way. I talk to asset managers, I talk to business chief execs. I talked to big corporates. And I'm able to say things now. And people know that when they would have looked at me like I was in my space 20 years ago, it's really quite surprising. And what I want to say over in the States, which I know that conversation hasn't got to that point yet. I mean, we've still got a long way to go in the U.K. as well. But I would say that that transition is possible and the conversation can and will at some point move on and just take heart from that. 


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