Bill Gates on Texas Storms: Climate Change Will Cause More 'Crazy Weather'

Philanthropist Bill Gates says "crazy weather events" like the winter storms in Texas will become more common because of climate change.

The billionaire Microsoft co-founder said in an interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Monday that green energy was not to blame for the blackouts that hit the state last week.

Gates was on the show to promote his new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, and explained how the power grid in Texas was caught lacking.

He said: "The problem was they didn't weatherize any of their power sources, so natural gas shut down and that was the biggest thing. The wind shutting down was a very small percentage ... North Dakota has wind that works at cold temperatures."

"We are going to have more of these crazy weather events, even cold ones like [Texas], because of climate change," the 65-year-old added.

"As we make the grid clean, it will be a challenge to keep it reliable because you can have lots of cases where there's not much sun or wind so we have to innovate to be able to store energy or use a weather-independent green source like nuclear."

Last week, millions of Texans were left without electricity and unable to heat their homes, amid freezing temperatures and winter storms that brought severe snow and ice. As power was restored, residents encountered water supply disruption.

CNN reported on Monday that the storms had contributed to at least 26 deaths in the state since February 11. Governor Greg Abbott and other Republican lawmakers attempted to blame green energy sources for the problems, although criticism later turned to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, which handles the power grid.

Experts determined that disruption in energy powered by fossil fuels had been the "biggest culprit" behind the blackouts, The Texas Tribune reported.

Abbott ordered an investigation into ERCOT on February 16, saying it had been "anything but reliable" during the crisis and calling for its leadership to resign. During the freeze, Texas Senator Ted Cruz flew to Cancun with his family.

Gates told Colbert that nuclear power could "absolutely" be used effectively if a "new design" was implemented in the future, despite the host pointing to nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl.

Gates said: "The overall record, despite Chernobyl, compared to what coal has done to people's health, and coal mines and natural gas pipelines blowing up, it's... good but not good enough. We need to start from scratch and have a reactor that the operators can never mess up. That no matter what, the radioactive stuff stays on site.

He urged people to "have an open mind because you want a green source of energy that is not weather dependent. And nuclear is the only thing that has a chance of scaling."

In an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Gates warned about the dangers of global climate change while also defending his own use of private jets.

Bill Gates
Bill Gates, pictured at the EU Commission headquarters in Belgium on October 18, 2018. He believes extreme weather like the Texas storms will become more frequent. Thierry Monasse/Getty