We should listen to bill gates

6th August 2020

In 2015, Bill Gates delivered a TED talk about the unavoidable pandemic and our global underpreparedness. He emphasised that we should consider possible scenarios, train healthcare professionals and invest more money into vaccine research.

Five years later, his predictions became a reality. The thing that makes me most sad is that it could have been prevented. If only people listened.

But it doesn't stop there.

In his latest article on the gatesnotes.com, Bill states that "COVID-19 is awful but climate change could be worse." Drawing analogy between Covid-19 pandemic and climate change, he warns that impact of latter could be worse in the long run. “If you want to understand the kind of damage that climate change will inflict, look at COVID-19 and spread the pain out over a much longer period of time,” he stated.

“In the next decade or two, the economic damage caused by climate change will likely be as bad as having a COVID-sized pandemic every ten years. And by the end of the century, it will be much worse if the world remains on its current emissions path.”

However, Gates emphasises that the key point of the article is not that climate change will be disastrous. "The key point is that, if we learn the lessons of COVID-19, we can approach climate change more informed about the consequences of inaction, and more prepared to save lives and prevent the worst possible outcome. The current global crisis can inform our response to the next one.

Specifically, Gates recommends to focus on three things:

1. Let science and innovation lead the way

Any comprehensive response to climate change will have to tap into many different disciplines. Climate science tells us why we need to deal with this problem, but not how to deal with it. For that, we’ll need biology, chemistry, physics, political science, economics, engineering, and other sciences.

2. Make sure solutions work for poor countries too

The poorest people in the world will have experienced the worst impact of COVID-19. Gates warns that the effects of climate change will "almost certainly be harsher than COVID-19's, and they will be the worst for the peopl who did the least to cause them." He further points out that the countries that are contributing the most to this problem have a responsibility to try to solve it.

3. Start now

Unlike with COVID-19, for which we might soon receive a vaccine, there is no two-year fix for climate change. It will take decades to incorporate clean energy into all processes and we need to act as quickly as possible to create a plan to avoid a climate disaster.

If you have time to read the full article, it is well worth your time. And if you're interested in reading the Gates Notes regularly, you can subscribe to receive them directly into your inbox.