Bill Gates’ warning on climate needs thinking - GulfToday

Bill Gates’ warning on climate needs thinking


Bill Gates

Microsoft founder Bill Gates’ statement that putting an end to the global coronavirus pandemic will be ‘very, very easy’ compared to the task of addressing the climate crisis needs serious thinking.

Managing to do this, he said, would be “the most amazing thing humanity has ever done”.

Gates told the BBC: “We’ve never made a transition like we’re talking about doing in the next 30 years. There is no precedent for this.”

That Gates is according climate change top priority compared to the pandemic shows the gravity of the situation. This despite the fact that a disease such as the coronavirus has effects that are tangible, that can be felt, at an individual level. Compare this with global warming where the consequences do not immediately affect the person per se.

Many may not agree with Gates, whose statement comes at a time when the global death toll from the coronavirus has killed over two million. In wealthy countries including the United States, Britain, Israel, Canada and Germany, millions of citizens have already been given some measure of protection with at least one dose of vaccine developed with revolutionary speed and quickly authorised for use.

But elsewhere, immunisation drives have barely gotten off the ground. Many experts are predicting another year of loss and hardship in places like Iran, Mexico and Brazil, which together account for a lot of the world’s deaths.

So, can the pandemic be controlled? Well, some experts think so, such as the leading US infectious disease specialist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said he foresees America achieving enough collective COVID-19 immunity through vaccinations to regain “some semblance of normality” by autumn 2021, despite early setbacks in the vaccine rollout.

The problem with climate change is that there seems to be no end to it. Research suggests that even if humanity stopped emitting greenhouse gases tomorrow, earth will warm for centuries to come and oceans will rise by metres.

“According to our models, humanity is beyond the point-of-no-return when it comes to halting the melting of permafrost using greenhouse gas cuts as the single tool,” lead author Jorgen Randers, a professor emeritus of climate strategy at the BI Norwegian Business School, told AFP.

Despite his interest in helping to save the planet from climate change, Gates admitted to arriving at the 2015 Paris climate summit in a private plane.

And he is candid enough to admit it. “I am aware that I’m an imperfect messenger on climate change,” he said, according to an extract of his book.

“I own big houses and fly in private planes – in fact, I took one to Paris for the climate conference, so who am I to lecture anyone on the environment?”

The billionaire has argued that governments need to do more to help deter people from using fossil fuels.

He also suggested countries should be more transparent and use an economic system that prices in the real cost of using fossil fuels and the damage they are doing to the environment.

Many governments focus on using more renewable sources of energy. However Gates said these only account for 30 per cent of total carbon emissions and the business magnate raised concerns about how to decarbonise the other 70 per cent.

This other 70 per cent includes emissions created by transport systems and the production of steel, cement and fertiliser.

A way to solve this would be innovation on a scale the world has never before seen, he said.

He added that he remained optimistic that the world still had time to avoid the worst effects of climate change: “You know, I’ve seen many times, innovation surprises us in a positive way.”

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