Bill Gates Says Curing COVID Will Be Easy Compared To Fixing Climate Change
Bill Gates has warned that climate change will be far more difficult to solve than the COVID-19 pandemic, and says that achieving zero emissions targets would be humanity’s ‘greatest achievement.’
Over the past year the Microsoft co-founder has been one of the most prominent voices in the international fight against coronavirus, but in his new book How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, he’s urging the world to focus its attention on an even greater threat.
The book explores exactly what needs to be done to lower greenhouse emissions to levels no longer damaging to our planet, and Gates reveals that the scale of the task is far bigger than many people might realise. To get to zero emissions, the world would need to completely eliminate or ‘greenify’ the sources of a massive 51 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases – that’s the average amount of emissions added to the atmosphere worldwide every year.
Gates says that by comparison the challenge of vaccinating some 7 billion people against COVID-19 is ‘very, very easy,’ because when it comes to the climate crisis ‘we’ve never made a transition like we’re talking about doing in the next 30 years. There is no precedent for this,’ he told BBC News.
And while he’s known for his optimism about humanity’s ability to overcome challenges, Gates has also criticised people who believe climate change can be solved in a matter of years, going as far as to compare them to anti-vaxxers. In an interview with The Guardian, he labelled plans raising the possibility of achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 as ‘a fairytale,’ adding, ‘It’s like saying vaccines don’t work – that’s a form of science denialism. Why peddle fantasies to people?’
Although Gates believes that the climate emergency is a much greater challenge than the current pandemic, he also says that there are ‘strong connections’ between the potential impacts of under-preparing for the the effects of climate change, warning that governments that ignored warnings about the threat of a global pandemic must not make the same mistake twice.
We rely on government to look out for the future, so that even if something unlikely shows up, people aren’t dying and the economy isn’t wrecked.
For the pandemic, despite many people, including myself, saying that we ought to get prepared – literally the title of my Ted talk was ‘We’re not ready’ – the government let us down. And so with climate change: we want government to look ahead and do the right things.
Gates believes the effort to change starts with innovative technologies, such as electric vehicles, and the push to change must come from governments.
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