Bill Gates’ new book, “How to fix a Climate Disaster,” list proposals that fall short of any real change. It shows how much we need to get the 1% out of our way.
After reading your new book on climate change, we feel a lot of confusion. You admit yourself that you aren’t the perfect messenger for the cause. You say, “I own big houses and I fly on private planes.” Let’s be clear here Bill, you spent 4.7 billion dollars last year, on purchasing Signature Aviation, a private jet company that makes millions of trips a year. You and your wife own 269,000 acres of land across nineteen states, more farmland than anyone in the nation and that does not count the thousands of acres you have privatized around the country with your friends. You vacation on super yachts. One of your houses is famously 66,000 square feet. When you say, “I own big houses,” is not cute or coy, it is disingenuous.
Of all the statistics you mention in your book, there is one that you leave out. It’s a common statistic to anyone who cares about climate change. It goes, The richest one percent of the world’s population is responsible for fifteen percent of the world’s carbon emissions. According to Oxfam, as recently as September 2020, “This is more than twice as much carbon pollution as the 3.1 billion people who make up the poorest half of the planet.” This begs a pressing question, it’s a math question so you might know this one. How are we supposed to get to zero if you and your buddies who are responsible for 15 % of all carbon emissions don’t make drastic changes? Come on Bill. If you really believe what you say you do about climate change, your carbon footprint should not be 10,000 times the average person. In the book, you explain how that you think you can pay your way out of guilt, but as you say in the book, no amount of money will be able to compensate for the future lives lost by not taking action now. Your commitment to transition your private jets to have more sustainable jet fuel is not only out of touch, a slap in the face, (it’s hard to believe you said that, seriously) but it’s symptomatic of bigger problems that you and your billionaire friends represent and impose on the rest of us. Let’s review some of them here.
As you mention, there have been activists pressuring you to move your billions of dollars of investments from fossil fuel to better causes which you did not do until 2019. In the book, you say it’s because you would feel terrible if you benefited from oil stock going up but until 2019, it had been going up and you had been benefiting from it. You expect us to believe that right as oil prices plunge to despairing depths and are no longer a money maker, you, at the same time, had some Dickinsion dark night of the soul over your oil investments? Come on Bill. Do not scapegoat climate change for what was clearly a coincidence. It’s not a great look to assume we are stupid.
In the book, you talk about the praise you received for giving 445 million dollars to Corona Virus relief efforts. Your wealth also grew by 20 billion dollars during the pandemic. There is only one thing more magical than fertilizer Bill, your philanthropy money. If your job is to give away money, how do you have more of it than ever? In the book, you throw around a lot of numbers that are supposed to impress us. Have you heard the story of the widow’s mite? It’s a biblical tale that makes all your donations annoying and moot but you probably aren’t the type to give credence to the everyman’s Christian sentiments. Like you, we like numbers. Us, Americans together, donated 449 billion in 2019. Unlike you, what we give requires an actual sacrifice. We don’t get leverage back, or public praise, or more returns than we gave in the first place. We get nothing. You have ill gotten gains, monopoly money, literally. The poor give more percentage-wise than you and your buddies do with your million dollar pennies that aren’t so shiny and really aren’t that much.
In the book, you say, “Every four to eight years, a new administration arrives in Washington with its own energy priorities..but it takes a toll on researchers who depend on grant money and entrepreneurs who rely on tax incentives…”
While we can only imagine how much our democracy is an impediment to your tax incentives, maybe it is a glimpse of how those 800,000 school children felt back when you scrapped funding for small schools in 2009. Remember when you were so certain it would be the answer to what is wrong with U.S. Education but it wasn’t? You used government money to experiment on children in over 2,606 schools. Many students on track to graduate dropped out when you dropped funding. You drove good teachers out of struggling schools and many of those schools never recovered. The way you feel about using government money for your experiments, is the way any charity feels that is dependent on your money for their cause. It’s one of the problems with charity right? Except for your income, it isn’t sustainable.
You and Melinda have single-handedly changed our education system for the worse. You have lobbied, paid for and advocated for charter schools where our teachers cannot unionize, teachers get paid 10–15% less, schools are not accountable to the state because they are private and students do not perform better overall. And yet, you and Melinda refuse to acknowledge your privilege and power over our education system.
In the book you say, “I’m funding a project that involves building a computer model of all the power grids covering the United States.” Why do you have access to our power grids? You aren’t a voted official. You aren’t a trusted, neutral, public entity. There is a problem with your access to information and data and people that you brag about so breezily in this book. Remember what happened in 2013 when you got together with Rupert Murdoch and used 100 million dollars for a database that stored the personal information of millions of school children? Remember when you got caught storing their addresses, social security numbers, test scores, any documented learning challenges and extra curricular activities and then sold that information to companies that make educational materials, remember? This would be fine with parental consent, but you didn’t acquire it.
There’s another incident which you famously did not acquire a guardian’s consent. All those conspiracy theories are so crazy right? Let’s set this record straight, it’s important that you know we don’t forget things.
You teamed up with a Non-profit in Seattle called PATH short for Program for Appropriate Technology in Health. PATH went to India with an experimental HPV vaccine which they injected into around 16,000–23,000 young women, ages nine to fifteen. (The numbers vary greatly because of all that mishandled paperwork.) Months later, scores of girls became sick and hospitalized, seven of them died but because there wasn’t a system for keeping track of adverse affects of the vaccine, it was hard to tell whether these girls died of natural causes or because of vaccine related side affects. India’s federal government got involved and called the vaccine trials, “shockingly unethical” they found that thousands of consent forms had been forged. You don’t take accountability for things. Even when your mistakes cost lives or harm.
In Africa, you tried to eradicate polio with an oral medication that contained a live strain of the virus which, in unsanitary conditions can mutate and cause a child to contract polio. More children died of the vaccine than died of wild polio in one year because of your negligence. You are not a doctor. You do not have a degree in medicine and you are are buying too much power over our health.
In the book, you are very proud of all the work you’ve done in India and Africa. You say, “The plight of poor farmers- as well as the impact that climate change will have on them is something I have learned a lot about over the past two decades through my work on global poverty. It’s also a passion of mine because I get to geek out on the fascinating science behind plant breeding.”
Let’s talk about your love for GMOs and Monsanto at the expense of small farmers. In the book you talk about the necessity of higher yields for more income as a way to rescue small farmers from poverty. You work with companies like Monsanto, though you never mention their name in the book, but it’s a company that you also have shareholder stake in. Of course, you are more than happy to go to poor places and give Monsato seeds away locking farmers into a vicious cycle of paying future royalties and putting them in a position to have to buy new seeds every year. Farms have to use copious amounts of fertilizer and invest in a lot of heavy machinery to grow those GMO seeds.
In 2020, there was a study, this is critical Bill, False Promises for a Green Revolution in Africa, which said that poverty has increased by 30% in the 18 countries you and your wife have been.
There’s another biblical phrase that comes to mind, ‘By their fruits ye shall know them,’ what have you done, Bill? It is common knowledge that your statistics on poverty are misleading. Hundreds of thousands of farmers have killed themselves in India because of how your GMO seeds have flooded the market at incredibly high prices. Just this week, a faith based group in Africa wrote you a letter asking you to change your tactics on their continent. They want to plant their own, local seeds. They want to continue a tradition of farming that has sustained them for years. Are you going to listen to them? Or, like every other white, imperialistic, paternalistic colonizer, are you going to keep pushing your materials, your technology, your way, for your money? We will be watching this closely Bill, no one holds you accountable, yet.
In your book you say something so jarring and hollow, it has to be read a couple of times to sink in. You say,
“So if you want a measuring stick for which countries are making progress on climate change and which ones aren’t, don’t simply look for the ones reducing their emissions, look for the ones setting themselves up to get zero. Their emissions might not be changing much now but they deserve credit for getting on the right path.”
While this statement might hold water among your Tedhead friends and your DAVOs wannabe-glam-people who are used to making empty promises for praise, in the real world, we get credit after achieving something. There is problem when people with power think their words are actions. You’re just a genius Bill. You aren’t God.
In your book, you tell Joe Biden to quintuple clean energy and climate related research and development. You suggest going from a budget of 22 billion a year to 37 billion a year and here is where you again get the order of things wrong. You say, “The government needs to make bigger bets on high risk, high reward R&D projects. This is especially true of scientific enterprises that remain too risky for the private sector to pursue.” You sound like Oliver Twist, “Please sir, can I have some more?” Have you seen the rocket ships explode at Space X? With their own money and everything!
The government’s job is not to take risks. The governments job is to do what works for the people. Your job is to take risks. Your job is to make something work and sell it to the government if it does work. I guess this poses a problem for you though. Most of what you come up with hasn’t worked.
You insist that, “Without demand for motivation, inventors and policy makers won’t have any incentive to push out new ideas.” Bill, policy makers should be motivated by their constituents, a set of values they were voted in for. And we are talking about capitalism in America. You mean that if you aren’t incentivized with money, then you can’t push out new ideas? Because entrepreneurs and inventors, we run on a compulsive inner spark which is a very different light from the glint of a golden coin. You clearly don’t know which is which anymore.
You should not have written a book about climate change Bill. You should not have felt comfortable enough to write a book on climate change, let alone fly around the world in your little jet to promote it and charge a personal profit for it! You are way too comfortable. Maybe it’s those cashmere sweaters (which don’t fool us, you are nothing like Mr. Rogers.)
When your best ideas for everyday Americans fixing climate change is to buy electric vehicles (how can you say nothing of bikes and biking infrastructure?! Obvi!) Or you say we should buy synthetic meat which you talk have stock in, your ideas are not good enough. We don’t want anymore of your stale experiments; we don’t want anymore of your failed attempts to fix things and leave them more broken than before, we don’t even want your charity money Bill. We want you and your friends to pay their fair share of taxes. As you go around the country touting your hypocritical crap you should be very careful. This week you’ve been also speaking out against raising minimum wage which some might consider the rhetoric of class warfare. Enjoy your cake. While you have it.
Blue collar workers who are sick of your shit.