Bill Gates claims solving COVID-19 is “easy” compared with the climate crisis

Elizabeth Meade on the billionaire philanthropist's controversial suggestions regarding the climate crisis

Elizabeth Meade
25th February 2021
Featured image: Wikimedia Commons

You've probably heard about Bill Gates' new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, in which the former Microsoft exec suggests ways to get to net zero from fifty-one billion tonnes of greenhouse gas. Gates suggests that governments must invest in research and development for new technologies, which will involve a "30-year push."

However, Gates has come under criticism for the book, largely due to his privileged position--as the fourth richest person in the world with over $124bn, one has to ask, why isn't he doing very much about it? Gates continues to use private jets, which, despite being powered from biofuels, still have an environmental impact, and is planning to buy a private jet service company called Signature Aviation. He was also worried that speaking out on climate would cause controversy, despite the fact that the majority of the world, other than what many would consider "the privileged", are affected by it and would likely consider it a real concern if asked. And, while Gates' book emphasises the roles of governments and businesses in averting the climate crisis, he still puts the onus on individual consumers to demand political and corporate action, even though he would accomplish these goals much more effectively if he targeted this message at others with similar power, funds and lifestyles to himself.

Gates should use his influence to solve the environmental problems caused by his and other large technological corporations

Although Gates' philanthropy has undoubtedly had some degree of positive impact--he has donated large amounts of money to ending diseases such as malaria and tuberculosis--he refuses to acknowledge that a society in which business owners such as himself have billions of dollars while others have very little is fundamentally flawed. He also minimises the difficulty of solving COVID-19--while the climate crisis is difficult and is ultimately much larger than COVID, that doesn't make the pandemic any easier to deal with in the meantime. Gates would have a greater impact using his influence to solve the environmental problems caused by his and other large technological corporations than telling the general population to do the same.

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AUTHOR: Elizabeth Meade
(she/her) Head of Current Affairs (News, Campus Comment, Comment, Science). Chemistry major. Avid reader. Chaos theorist. Amateur batrachologist and historian. Rock fan. Likes cybersecurity and cooking. Wrote the first article for Puzzles. Probably the first Courier writer to have work featured in one of Justin Whang's videos.

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