Bill Gates on Climate Change as a priority

I just found the “Gates Notes“, a great online resource reflecting the travels, thoughts, and priorities of Bill Gates.     You can also contact Gates from that address.

Here’s a nice piece about why Global Warming should not be a priority for the Gates Foundation:

A question from a businessman in India

You say that you want to help all people to live healthy, productive lives, but you don’t seem to be doing anything about global warming, which clearly threatens our very existence. How come you don’t care about this issue?


Energy and climate change is an issue I’ve been spending a lot of time reading about and trying to understand a bit better. I’ve been lucky enough to get time with some real experts, and there’s a lot of great stuff that’s been written that provides some understanding.

In my work at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, I think about energy in terms of how it can help the poorest people. If you can have cheap energy where people live, then you can have fertilizer, transportation, and clean water, along with the ability to assume that there’s electricity for a medical clinic. Among other things, that means you can keep vaccines refrigerated.

From this point of view, energy is a huge issue. Understanding how we’re going to change things so it will help the people who are the worst off is extremely important and it is a very interesting and difficult challenge.

I’m a believer that whenever markets can work, that’s where you will find the best answers because you’ll get entrepreneurs from all over the world who can pursue thousands and thousands of ideas in parallel. Depending on how you measure it, energy is probably the biggest market in the world. That means somebody can make a risky bet and try it, and you have clear metrics of success. So if you have a promising idea about sequestering carbon, or a cheap nuclear plant, or solar photovoltaic, you can get the capital to build plants, to hire people, and to demonstrate whether it works at scale.

This is perfect for the marketplace. But it’s not something any foundation should try to do. In the areas that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation focuses on, it’s where you have diseases that don’t exist in the rich world and so the research dollars aren’t there because there’s no market-driven opportunity.

7 thoughts on “Bill Gates on Climate Change as a priority

  1. I’m a believer that whenever markets can work, that’s where you will find the best answers because you’ll get entrepreneurs from all over the world who can pursue thousands and thousands of ideas in parallel.

    Lucifer speaks! :] Serio, Chairman Bill seems to speaking in tautologies here–in other words, whenever markets work, you find the best answers, because you have the best entrepreneurs, and whereever the best entrepreneurs are found, you get the best answers and the markets work. Tycoonomics.

    Bill and Melinda Co may do some good deeds for some but charity in and of itself is not an economic policy, but more like …the largesse of the King. When the King (or Queen) is in a bad mood or has a bad business year, the largesse ends, and the economy fails.

    • Well, if by “some” you mean “millions and millions” … the record is spectacular – innovative do-goodness.

      But I agree that charity should not be confused with economic policy. That’s critical, because even the most generous efforts can’t do what Governments can do with the sweeping kinds of changes we need to economic policy.

      The *single* most important step is the one it’s very hard to get people to understand, which is a significant redirection of military spending to much higher ROI endeavors (one of which would simply be to return money to taxpayers). There’s an ongoing mythology that suggests our military spend is needed to preserve stability. I’m sure there is some truth to the idea of USA-as-global-police, but there is no good reason to think we need to spend trillions and trillions to get the modest positive net result. There’s a better way and we must find it.

  2. I agree–the DoD budget meets the definition of Slushbucket. The Teabagger types ranting and raving about taxes and govt. spending rarely, if ever bring it up. Many areas of the USA (like SoCal) depend on DoD handouts–really, it’s like a self-perpetuating death-industry. Thousands of people depend on military related jobs–so the Demopublicans continue approving massive budgets, and that’s not likely to stop in the near future. Maybe the Republic of Bill & Melinda should do something about it.

    • It’s the glaring hypocrisy of the Tea Party that they only hate Govt Spending when they don’t like the recipients. They are right to be skeptical of spending, but the big ticket is Military and Entitlements, neither of which they are willing to change much. Therefore…. their rants ring as hollow as the Democrats oxymoronic notion of highly responsible and effective Government spending.

      Where are the founders when you need them? SMALL Government, SMALL Military, Individual Freedoms, no mix of religion and politics, strong entrepreneurial capitalism.

      Basically I think the Democrats and Republican parties each get about half these right, but no party is rising to really resurrect the founding principles that brought us to the top of the global economic and power heap.

      • Im in general agreement, though I rate the Tea-party/GOP types higher on the Delusional-o-meter than Demos–usually– and don’t think mere entrepreneurial capitalism will save us, JD. Walmart shows up to Anytown USA, and nearly all the Ma and Pa shoppes, even ones doing well, close their doors, and the locals get their blue vests (or did until a few years ago–Wallymart changed their uniforms a bit).

        On the other hand, corrupt, irrational leftists, or pseudo-leftists (typical of d-KOS, or DU, or the New Worlds clowns) have driven many people out of the Demos, and into the hands of the tea-party populists, or the Beck/Palin supporters, etc. The blogger-liberal blogs are a mixed bag, but there’s a strange…Herd Mind in effect. Or is it the mafia.

        US politics now seems something like a mob turf battle–and many “liberals” don’t really know enough about the history of the US to realize how much power mobs wielded in the Demos, even until 40s-50s.

      • Blogland could still use a bit of moderate AGW skepticism, IMHO–instead of the hysterical Gore-bots and “green-police”–or Foxnews-TP yahoos. Of course any sort of rational approach to the problem tends to be ignored–by both the fanatical deniers and eco-cops . Not agreeing to Gore’s spin on AGW does not mean one admires foxnews or the GOP–a point lost on many liberal hysteria-crats.

        While most studies do show consensus on warming trends there are still many questions remaining (like the man-made CO2 issue)–the modellers (not exactly physicists) have yet to establish that AGW is not a natural …heatwave. There have been some reports showing slight cooling throughout the last decade, 2000-2010 as well. McIntyre who you quoted a while back still has some rather powerful data-driven criticism of Mann, etc (a bit more substantial than the usual Foxbot, or Lomborg protestations). And some fairly powerful scientists such as harvard physicist Richard Wilson still have doubts about the official Democrat Inc.version of AGW.

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