Bill Gates has a master plan to combat climate change


The day before the opening, while Lady Gaga rehearsed “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Washington, DC, wildfires raged in California’s Sonoma, Santa Cruz, and Ventura counties, surprising climatologists who had never witnessed it. the state’s fire season to extend through January. NASA had just announced that 2020 tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record. As the Covid-19 pandemic prompted city dwellers to search for places that felt safer and safer (Vermont, Kansas, Idaho), the FBI began arresting Americans who had rioted on the US Capitol. the United States. Online sales of “prep” equipment (gas masks, food preservation kits) were fast.

Bill Gates was at his lakeside compound in Seattle, preparing for his next effort to save the planet from mass extinction. For 20 years, Gates has been studying the twin global afflictions of disease and poverty. These efforts led him to consider climate change and its irritating impact on civilization. This month Knopf will publish his latest book, How to avoid a weather disaster. Surprisingly, given the state of the world, it is something of an optimistic and practical book, packed with solutions to a problem that President Jimmy Carter began to warn about in 1977.

The inauguration of President Joe Biden last month had a major influence on Gates’ outlook. An earlier draft of the book included measures for a second term for Donald Trump. In November, after the election, he removed these parts, including provisions on how US state and foreign governments could account for the absence of federal support. Another Trump victory, Gates says, would have left us “holding our breath for four years and trying not to turn blue.”

“I hope Joe Biden stays healthy,” he told me during our first virtual interview in December, as he sat in a glass-walled conference room at Gates Ventures known as the Fishbowl, where he has been attending meetings and relying on Microsoft teams. platform during the pandemic.

Seattle’s Lake Washington gleams over his shoulder, where far below a distant motorboat leaves a wake as Gates slides into his preferred posture, hunched with one ankle on one knee in an ergonomic conference room chair. Gates, 65, has already faced insoluble problems, from trying to eradicate polio to epic rivalries with Steve Jobs and Google. The Microsoft co-founder also sounded the alarm early on about the need to prepare for a global pandemic. Climate change is yet another challenge that Gates has served up on his own plate.

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