Many scientists have given up trying to warn the world of global warming. They think their work is done, the science is done, and now they are leaving it to human political will to effect necessary change. A comparatively small effort put into mitigation, would yield tremendous payoffs in the form of reduced warming problems. And conversely, ignoring the problem now will make it much worse later.
The Gates Foundation must have very smart scientists, brilliant financial advisers (if there are any these days), sharp administrators and good-hearted visionaries. They list some powerfully smart guiding principles Including “We are in it for the long haul.”
But they are strangely silent on the one issue that trumps all biological threats - the one issue that will be responsible for decimating human population. Failure to acknowledge, failure to act means they must be misinformed, or shortsighted, or misdirected. They seem to be acting contrary to their stated goals, and the interests of everyone.
It can’t possibly be because they don’t know that These two things aren’t disconnected. Global climate change directly affects human health outcomes whether through disease distribution or agricultural productivity and food security. …the U.S. is a leader in countering infectious diseases and other public health concerns…. climate change and the spread of such diseases are connected.”
Could it be that the enthusiastic fight of infectious diseases is a way of tacitly supporting the industries that enhance global warming? I want to believe there is no conscious decision. But again this year Exxon had the greatest profit year ever - $45 Billion. Exxon and other carbon fuel companies make up over $1 billion in the foundation trust investments.
Why would the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation consciously decide to ignore global warming?
The carbon fuel industry is quite serious about keeping carbon fuel sales moving - last year spending over $200 million on influencing public opinion on global warming. Carbon industries such as oil companies, automobile, coal, all know that influence on the Gates Foundation is a necessary part of doing business. A few years ago, the Gates Foundation Trust listed investments (as of this writing the 2008 list is not released) - they were heavily into ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies. Over $1 billion invested must have generated much revenue but also generated millions of tons of CO2 yearly.
ExxonMobil, as the prime source of financial support for global warming denier PR campaigns, is now facing a suit for their part in causing global warming in Kivalina v Exxon. Now this case is still in the courts, and it is only $400 million - not much for Exxon, but I would think the Gates Foundation would want to divest from such a company. CO2 emissions cause greater and greater global warming. As one scientist said about further carbon dioxide emissions, “this is just piling on, this is just running up the score”
Or do they want to avoid the subject of global warming because it is a business negative, or economically depressive stance for such a business related foundation?
Develop strategy … The foundation will be a adjusting the strategy as it sees fit; by CEO decision then input from Bill and Melinda. The key danger is the full support of BAU “Business As Usual” Because one goal of the Gates Foundation is to enhance productivity - which could mean business-as-usual.
Does the Foundation see anthropogenic global warming as essentially constrictive to business and hence bad for underlying funding sources?
The elephant in the room is not static. Climate continues to destabilize and grow warmer, change is happening faster than scientists had expected. So it must be increasingly difficult for the Gates Foundation to keep ignoring global warming. Dr James Hansen says that we have horrible realities to face , sooner rather than later, and humans now should act to mitigate the damage. No matter what we do, there will be increased warming for the next 40 years.
At present, the Gates Foundation invests solely around trying to maximize returns, arguing that the more it makes, the more worthy projects it can fund. That means it has steered its dollars toward a number of companies that contradict the best of its values. Exxon/Mobil, for instance, has been the prime funder of think tanks and individuals denying global warming. The Foundation invested in mortgage companies, like Ameriquest, that have been accused in lawsuits or by government officials of making it easier for thousands of people to lose their homes, even as it also supported nonprofits that helped victims of predatory lending. It put money into Tenet Healthcare, which has paid over $1.5 billion in settlements for fraud, kickbacks, and patient-care lapses. The only category of corporations the Foundation excluded was tobacco companies, and Gates Foundation CEO Patty Stonesifer defended their approach by saying it would be naïve to suggest that an individual stockholder can stop the human suffering blamed on the practices of companies in which it invests. “Changes in our investment practices would have little or no impact on these issues.” Paul Loeb http://www.paulloeb.org/articles/GatesFoundation.html
Last year… “a Times investigation has found, the foundation reaps vast financial gains every year from investments that contravene its good works.”… Like most philanthropies, the Gates Foundation gives away at least 5% of its worth every year, to avoid paying most taxes. In 2005, it granted nearly $1.4 billion. It awards grants mainly in support of global health initiatives, for efforts to improve public education in the United States, and for social welfare programs in the Pacific Northwest… …It invests the other 95% of its worth. This endowment is managed by Bill Gates Investments, which handles Gates’ personal fortune. Monica Harrington, a senior policy officer at the foundation, said the investment managers had one goal: returns “that will allow for the continued funding of foundation programs and grant making.” … …at least $8.7 billion, or 41% of its assets, not including U.S. and foreign government securities — have been in companies that countered the foundation’s charitable goals or socially concerned philosophy… …The Gates Foundation is a major shareholder in the companies that own both of the polluting plants. As of September, the foundation held $295 million worth of stock in BP, a co-owner of Sapref. As of 2005, it held $35 million worth of stock in Royal Dutch Shell, Sapref’s other owner. The foundation also held a $39-million investment in Anglo American, which owns the Mondi paper mill. The foundation has held large investments in all three companies since at least 2002. Since then, the worth of BP shares has shot up by about 83%, Royal Dutch Shell shares by 77% and Anglo American shares about 255%. Dividends have padded the foundation’s assets by additional millions of dollars.
This is a tremendous problem. Global warming is a Gordian Knot that cannot have a good solution.
Possibly the Gates Foundation thinks that the required paradigm shift would be too great for people to face, even for the Gates Foundation. Their web site lists hundreds of helpful projects they currently fund world-wide. Certainly mitigating warming would require a direct frontal attack on the carbon dioxide generation that is such a part of our industrialized civilization. This will greatly disturb the global economy.
I hope the Gates foundation is getting ready to make a decisive move. Because climate is changing, warming and destabilizing - and they will need to change, or be left behind.
In the last few years, the language in global warming policy papers stopped using the more hopeful term “fix” or “solve” the global warming problem. It is beyond fixing. Unless we revert to a pre-industrial state for 1000 years , it is too late to fix. The the recently released NOAA report says “how changes in surface temperature, rainfall, and sea level are largely irreversible for more than 1,000 years after carbon dioxide (CO 2 ) emissions are completely stopped”.
Now the language has changed. According to the Annual Review of Public Health society has three basic options for responding to human-caused climate change:
Mitigateby reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from energy and land use or capturing them from the atmosphere to retard or, perhaps, reverse the extra heating of Earth caused by GHG build-up in the atmosphere.
Adapt by reducing the negative effects of climate change through such measures as protecting coastlines, moving populations away from impacted areas, increasing efforts to control climate-related vector-borne diseases, and insulating cities from heat stress.
Suffer because climate changes already seem to be underway and that efforts in the first two arenas above are moving slowly. Even with major mitigation and adaptation efforts, suffering will likely increase, perhaps considerably in poorer parts of the world, because of the climate change committed already.
This is the perfect realm for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. They are poised to have a tremendous effect. Even by stating a policy stance that respects climate change, they can do tremendous good.