Recently in Gates Foundation Category

Prodding the Sacred Cow


The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthropy, has overlooked the biggest threat to human health and human future - the increasing rate of climate destabilization from global warming.

**********   UPDATE   ***********

Failure To Tackle Climate Change Spells A Global Health Catastrophe, Experts Warn
ScienceDaily (Sep. 16, 2009) — An editorial and letter, published simultaneously by the BMJ and Lancet, warn that failure to agree radical cuts in carbon dioxide emissions at the UN climate change conference in Copenhagen this December spells a global health catastrophe.

Last year the Foundation co-chairman said about Global Warming:  “The fact of the matter is we don’t think about it”.   I urge you to change that immediately to state:  “Every individual, organization and state should be thinking about climate change now”.

For too long the Gates Foundation ignored extensive research that concludes global warming and climate destabilization has extended and amplified disease and other human health problems .  Your science advisers can tell you that global warming is caused, enhanced and accelerated by carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere by industrial civilization.  The biggest danger to our future is that we may fail to regulate CO2 output  Continued global warming causes sea levels to rise which will increase disease vector populations

If eradicating malaria is the goal then you must regard the compelling data and devastating forces of a changing climate.  All of the awesomely great works by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation can be undone by the horrible realities of Global Warming to come.  If you truly want to support human health and nurture prosperity, then you need to refocus and modify priorities in a way that respects climate change.
The investment policy for the Foundation Trust forbids trading in tobacco stock since that industry so obviously harms health.  Similarly, I ask you to halt investments in carbon fuel companies and other polluting industries.  You may derive revenue from over $1 billion invested in oil company stocks, but the resulting greenhouse gas emissions will further increase the rate of warming.  Until you decide how best to be part of the solution, please don’t be part of the problem.  You should completely divest from any hydro-carbon energy company stock holdings.

We all praise the Gates Foundation for generosity and laudatory good works saving lives and giving hope for the future.  But gradually, inexorably, everyone is beginning to feel the aggravation, pain and real suffering from our destabilizing climate.  To further ignore the problem is misguided, shortsighted and squanders the opportunity for change. 

At the very least, you should accept climate change as a real cause of suffering, and include it when evaluating the global health metrics that underlie your good works.  With such an honest view, others can share in your objective: for all people to have healthy and productive lives.

Failure to act is the biggest sin. Knowledgeable people of wealth and power should take a stand - because it is right, because it is needed and because inaction brings harm to us all

     Richard Pauli    February 2009

Cross posted in the Seattle PI First Person opinion March 2, 2009

Recent email from the Gates Foundation on Global Warming

Update: The World Health Organization report on malaria.

Yale University Environment 360 The Spread of New Diseases: The Climate Connection Oct 2009

Gates Foundation email response

The following is the Gates Foundation response to questions about global warming.  Rec'd  Feb.16, 2009

Subject: RE: Quick questions about Global Warming - Climate Destabilization

Dear Richard,

Thank you for reaching out to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Early on, Bill and Melinda Gates agreed to focus on a few areas of giving, choosing where to place their money by asking two questions: Which problems affect the most people? And which have been neglected in the past? With that in mind, they decided that the three areas where we can make the greatest difference are improving global health, giving people a chance to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty, and strengthening education in the United States. (Read more at:

The foundation believes that climate change is a major issue facing all of us. The implications, however, are especially dire for people in developing countries because they are primarily in tropical areas and rely heavily on agriculture and other sectors most vulnerable to changes in their environment. They also have the fewest resources to adapt to these changes.

While the foundation is not directly involved in climate change efforts, our work in global health and development-including efforts to cultivate drought-resistant crops and strengthen health systems-helps communities adapt to changes in the environment. Ultimately, we take action, including our global health and development work, to empower people to make their communities more resilient to all the challenges they face, including climate change.

The following web links should also be useful to you:

• Information about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation trust:

• Financial information about both the foundation and the asset trust:

• Investment policy information:

• Frequently Asked Questions:

• Bill Gates' annual letter (in which he discusses the effects of climate change on agricultural development):

Foundation Media Team
From: Richard Pauli []
Sent: Friday, February 13, 2009 12:40 PM
To: Media
Subject: Quick questions about Global Warming - Climate Destabilization

To the Media Relations Dept,

I hope you can help me with a few questions about the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

As a blogger and citizen journalist with a very small readership to, I have been looking into the issue of global warming and changes ahead.

If you will permit a few questions, I hope these are simple enough to respond with links.

Regarding the foundation asset trust investments:
Do you have a current list of stock holdings?
As the Trust will not invest in tobacco stocks; are there other categories of stocks that are forbidden? Such as military weaponry, coal companies, etc?

Does the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have any stated policy on
global climate change or climate destabilization or global warming?

Does the Foundation make any grants directly related to adaptation or mitigation of climate change?

Thank you so much for your response,


Richard Pauli

Gates Foundation ignores global warming - 1/3

“The last temptation is the greatest treason, to do the right thing for the wrong reason”.          - T.S Eliot

Before a gathering of Techno-elites Bill Gates released mosquitoes into the audience as a way of forcing empathy for malaria vaccine research.  But at the same time, Bill Gates may be doing far more harm to the world than his foundation could possibly balance in good deeds.   To ignore global warming harms our future.

Last year the Gates Foundation said about Global Warming:  “The fact of the matter is we don’t think about it. We haven’t paid a lot of attention to environmental issue.”

It is clear that they have been thinking about it quite a bit and have crafted carefully calculated stances that work to delay climate action, work to influence public policy to allow massive carbon dioxide releases to continue. 


Global warming can no longer be ignored.  Any business related to generating CO2 is hastening our demise.  That means all carbon fuel companies - oil, coal, gas and related industries automotive - are active or passive enablers.

Climate warming worsens disease.   Even if the Gates Foundation confines its works only to malaria, it cannot ignore global warming.   The WHO Technical Report Series on Malaria Vector Control and Personal Protection says:

Climate change has potential effects on coastal malaria.  Firstly, more frequent cyclones and floods will increase vector density and the risk of malaria.  Past epidemics were often associated with above average rainfall.  Second, flooding of low-lying areas, due to raised sea levels will expand breeding areas.  Within the Asia-Pacific region, many such areas are malarious and refugees from them could provide a large reservoir of infection.  Emergency relocation of refugees, particularly if aircraft, trains and/or buses are used, will increase the possibility of introducing exotic vectors into malaria-free countries.  Parasites resistant to antimalarials will add to the difficulties of treatment.  More than direct land loss due to seas rising, indirect factors are generally listed as the main difficulties associated with the rise in sea level.  These include erosion patterns and damage to coastal infrastructure, salinization of wells, suboptimal functioning of the sewerage and drainage systems of coastal cities, with resulting health impacts, loss of littoral ecosystems and loss of biotic resources.

Microsoft has been making billions selling computer operating systems so vital for expanding business.  An operating system is like a form of government for computers,  it is a way of handling all the complexity of a computer and put it to work.  An operating system handles every event in the computer, every detail, every obscure piece of data.  And the operating system prevents any misbehaving object from interfering with the whole system.  It must know how everything interconnects.  His statement “We don’t think about it” is like an operating system that is totally unaware of its power supply.

Bill Gates and Warren Buffet - two of the world’s richest men, lead the way:  promising entire fortunes to find a cure for the diseases that kill millions of children in the poorest countries in the world.

They had better start paying attention to global warming.  The World Health Organization has been paying attention
Dr Shigeru Omi, WHO Regional Director for the Western Pacific, said: “Global warming has already impacted lives and health, and this problem will pose an even greater threat to mankind in coming decades if we fail to act now.”

The UN, the Union of Concerned Scientists, economists, the insurance industry, all are sounding an alarm.  Anthropogenic global warming is like the Blue Screen of Death to our atmospheric system.   Something that should not be ignored, should not be denied.

I suggest The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation immediately change their statement to:
“Every individual, organization and state should be thinking about climate change right now” They should do this because of the science , because of the ethics, and most of all because to do otherwise shows they are misinformed and it will soon be horrendously embarrassed.   Gates, who made his fortune on operating systems, should think like a systems developer; he should know that such an unstable and changing part of the system cannot be ignored.  It affects everything else.  It is as if he built a computer operating system and ignored the power requirements.   By ignoring the climate system it suggests he is playing only with financial systems  - and along with many businesses is paying the price for short-sighted business decisions.   A philanthropic organization should be skilled in associated reasoning - knowing that help and investments here will do the most good over there.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has done so much, saved so many millions of lives, and its work will help save many more.  It is a wonderful and remarkable and shining example of gracious and enlightened capitalism.  Many, many thanks go to that foundation for the work they do, and will be doing.

See chart:   Climate change and vector-borne diseases. (2000). In UNEP/GRID-Arendal Maps and Graphics Library. Retrieved 22:57, July 17, 2009 from

About a year ago, the Gates foundation had a tiff with the World Health Organization.  The WHO has published many studies concluding that global warming will cause horrendous problems with world health - including a 322 page tome Climate change and human health - risks and responses.   But Gates ignores global warming as a cause of any health problems .  The public part of the tiff was over the malaria funding.  Gates is doing great research and may have a cure or fix for malaria… we will know soon. 

The Gates foundation really did not want to rely on data from the WHO saying that Anthropogenic Global Warming is serious, and we should do something about it.  So the Gates Foundation built their own instituion to do the research — the Seattle based,  Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IMHE)  whose sole purpose is to gather data about health problems in the world.  It does much the same thing as the WHO does, even has snagged some WHO executives.  They deliver tremendously useful data on the state of disease globally.  The only difference is they do no projections on future threats - no global warming issues.  They segregate data on disease, and health problems from global warming.  After all few deaths from global warming, rather it is famine, disease, thirst, or fire or any precisely definable cause.  The WHO has dozens and dozens of serious science peer reviewed reports and studies on the subject of human disease and global warming .  But the IHME has none.  But they are not in business for that purpose  And so the Gates Foundation has been using them as a data source and so can ignore global warming.

Well the Emperor has no clothes, and the Foundation has its head in the sand   Now can you guys wake up and look around?


Given all the information available, how can the Gates Foundation ask us to ignore global warming?

This year the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will be spending 7% of its multi-billion dollar endowment on hundreds of efforts to fund research, knocking out polio, malaria and other noble efforts. 

Very soon (and starting now), climate changes from global warming will be the top health danger, the greatest stressor to humans, the biggest killer of population and productivity.  Millions will be dying from starvation, thirst, flood, storms and fires.  With sea level rise, expect to see millions of climate refugees - and with refugees expect to see climate wars

More than two-thirds of the world’s large cities are in areas vulnerable to global warming and rising sea levels, and millions of people are at risk of being swamped by flooding and intense storms, according to a new study released Wednesday.

In all, 634 million people live in the threatened coastal areas worldwide — defined as those lying at less than 33 feet above sea level — and the number is growing, said the study published in the journal Environment and Urbanization.

More than 180 countries have populations in low-elevation coastal zones, and about 70 percent of those have urban areas of more than 5 million people that are under threat. Among them: Tokyo; New York; Mumbai, India; Shanghai, China; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Gwynne Dyer - Military analyst and producer of “Climate Wars”

… I did start to look into this idea that global warming could lead to wars. It turned into a year-long trek talking to scientists, soldiers and politicians in a dozen different countries. I have come back from that trip seriously worried, and there are four things I learned that I think you ought to know.

The first is that a lot of the scientists who study climate change are in a state of suppressed panic these days. Things seem to be moving much faster than their models predicted.

The second thing is that the military strategists are right. Global warming is going to cause wars, because some countries will suffer a lot more than others. That will make dealing with the global problem of climate change a lot harder.

The third is that we are probably not going to meet the deadlines. The world’s countries will probably not cut their greenhouse gas emissions enough, in time, to keep the warming from going past 2 degrees celsius. That is very serious.

And the fourth thing is that it may be possible to cheat on the deadlines. I think we will need a way to cheat, at least for a while, in order to avoid a global disaster

Bangladesh faces 5 feet of sea level rise by 2100.   “As many as 30 million people would become refugees in their own land, many of them subsistence farmers with nothing to subsist on any longer.”

James Lovelock, the originator of the notion of Gaia - predicts a global population decimation.   An earth population of nearly 9 billion humans, will soon be reduced to 1 billion.  And not many climate scientists can say that’s impossible.

United Nations studies, recent NOAA reports, Union of Concerned Scientists, NRDC, Pentagon studies, even the Bush administration reports serious danger ahead.  The Gates Foundation is located near the highly respected University of Washington Atmospherics department. Even your local journalist has a science overview They have no excuse for such paltry attention.

The most dangerous denial is that of the tipping point feedback events - such as methane releases - a greenhouse gas 25 times more active than carbon dioxide - that can accelerate warming beyond all anticipated levels. We are playing with fire.

The writer Bruce Sterling thinks this year 2009 - will be a Year of Panic.  He says:

The climate.  People still behave as if it’s okay.  Every scientist in the world who isn’t the late Michael Crichton knows that it’s not.  The climate is in terrible shape; something’s gone wrong with the sky.  The bone-chilling implications haven’t soaked into the populace, even though Al Gore put together a PowerPoint about it that won him a Nobel.  Al was soft-peddling the problem.

It’s become an item of fundamentalist faith to maintain that the climate crisis is a weird leftist hoax.  Yet, since the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike, an honest fear of the consequences will prove hard to repress.  Since the fear has been methodically obscured, its emergence from the mists of superstition will be all the more powerful.  Unlike mere shibboleths of finance, this is a situation that’s objectively terrifying and likely to remain so indefinitely.

It is an old American saying “When you are up to your ass in alligators, it is easy to forget that your original goal was to drain the swamp”   The Gates Foundation is heroically smiting the ferocious alligators of disease and low productivity.  Thanks for that.  Really.  But the swamp waters are rising.  The seas literally rising - and within the next few generations we can expect at least a few feet of sea level rise and as much as twenty feet within a century.  Children alive today will witness tremendous chaos.

In Part 2  Why is the Gates Foundation in denial?

Why the Gates Foundation ignores global warming 2/3

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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,0,6827615.story

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.

part 3  Recommending specific actions

Suggestions for Gates Foundation pt 3 of 3

Climates destabilize, temperatures change, sea levels rise, and the Gates Foundation can change too. 

The Annual Review of Public Health offers a conclusion:

Perhaps the most telling simple definition of public health is that it is the science and art of making people healthy before they are wealthy (and then keeping them that way). Although altering both the rules and the stakes in as yet uncertain ways, the emergence of climate change on the world stage reinforces this vision of public health’s mission. The profession will need new infusions of methods, strategies, and resources to prevent climate change from slowing or reversing progress toward acceptable standards of global population health.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Trust should make some specific changes:

Recognize and Accept

Speaking Out is the greatest action that Bill Gates and the B&M Foundation could take… and its free.  Their reputation is their greatest asset, misusing it squanders good will.

All accomplished by the strength of status - the smartest, richest builder of operating systems… Recognize the greatest stressor to human health and productivity for a human future is Global warming  

Accept the science from the UN, NOAA, Union of Concerned Scientists, even from the University of Washington Atmospherics Dept.  Even watch local Seattle TV news for an education on Global Warming.  Examine the IPCC models and scenarios, including time lines for change.  Let sciencedrive policy.  Openly promote accepted mitigation strategies.   For the BMGF to decare this danger would do more to validate the direction of struggle.

Get some climatologists on staff to layout models and scenarios.

Many events were long predicted, melting Arctic ice, and many more will be easily predicted.  But everything is happening sooner than predicted.  And new tipping points will trigger feedback loops that need careful scrutiny.

It is likely your science advisers will say the crucial step is to halt CO2 emissions.  Plenty of projects for converting from fossil fuel to wind, solar, wave.  Learning carbon sequestratn.  For the Gates Foundation this means the oil investments will have to stop… and the various 300 million dollar investments each in Exxon and BP should stop.  Fossil fuels endanger our very future.

Establish and Appoint a Climate Relations Czar

Appoint Al Gore - or someone like him - to head up your Global warming action wing.  Change your goal to define the specific actions to adapt with disbursements, and mitigate with selected investments.

Political pressure to demand Mitigation

Lobby to lessen the impact of global warming by halting CO2 production.   “We are in it for the long Haul”  It will take 50 years before the effects of reduced CO2 are felt in the atmosphere.,0,6827615.story

Climate change is something that is on the minds of many major non-governmental organizations and international think tanks.  It has certainly not escaped the attention of the Organisation For Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), which has had a climate change group as part of their environment directorate for a number of years.  Their work is meant “to assist countries to implement effective and efficient policies to address climate change by conducting policy-relevant research and analysis.”  Near the top of their homepage, visitors will find two particularly helpful sections: “Publications & Documents” and “Information By Country”.  The “Publications & Documents” are divided into sections that include news releases, policy briefs, case studies, and best practices.  The “Don’t Miss” area found on the right hand side of the homepage brings together some of their key works, including “Climate Change Mitigation: What Do We Do?” and “Ranking Port Cities with High Exposure and Vulnerability to Climate Extremes.”

Make transformative investments 

Not just grants, but investments can make change.   Isn’t investment a form of devotion and faith?  Now they invest in hundreds of companies, funding.  It seems obvious that some industrial sectors need investment and will return greatly on that… electrical grid, trains, solar power, wind power, electric car, pharma research.  They invest in many of these sectors now.  Drop the oil company stocks.

How long you want humans to be around;  30, 50 or 100 years?   The best future investments would be for non-carbon energy companies, low carbon industrials, and then low carbon housing and transportation.

Battleground of Ideas 

The world’s largest philanthropic organization needs to take the lead. There are no good choices, only the least bad.  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation must get away from old thinking.  Humanity is in acar, in a blinding the fog, racing toward a cliff, and we don’t need people selling us more gas. We need global economies to become zero carbon as soon as possible.  The Gates foundation is in the unique position of fostering trust.  It cannot afford to be fostering CO2 capitalism.

Take up the banner of truth

Oil and coal companies are spending over $200 million per year to influence public opinion.
Gates has a free podium of status and adulation that he squanders by ignoring the seriousness of the problem. 

Making change happen

The world will be facing increasingly serious global warming problems.  Everywhere.  The Gates Foundation is trapped by endowments that are heavily connected to carbon fuel industries.  CO2 makes warming worse.  CO2 cannot even be capped.  All humans must radically reduce CO2.   And that sure will harm our business-as-usual.  And harm carbon investments.  This is plain old monetary denialism.  They don’t want global warming to affect their investment returns.   So  “We don’t think about it.”  So their soft denial, the shunting aside facing up to the problem will surely tarnish their reputation.   And beyond their philanthropy, their reputation as the vanguard  …..  They are the Mother Teresa of Foundations.   And they are about to squander this good will to become the Benedict Arnold

The problem of global warming is astoundingly momentous.  Hard to apprehend.  The Gates Foundation should be acting smarter.   Why save a million people when you can save 8 Billion?  Maybe that is the unintentional answer - the goal is to save only the oligarchy  - if that is so they risk misjudging this maneuver.

Bill Gates needs to realize that he is regarded as a great innovator leader, not just to top of the worlds wealthiest list, but as someone who can guide and influence both business and philanthropic thinking.   Global warming issue is moving to the top of the list, top priority.  And those who do not watch carefully will be surprised.   It is not too late to speak up now.

When does an error become a blunder?   When does the wrong choice become folly?   Both Bill and Melinda Gates - at the very top of the philanthropic world - are running the risk of plunging to the bottom. 

How much influence do contributors have in fund disbursements?
How would an open source foundation work?
How would a Google “Do no evil” run a foundation that works differently?
How would a foundation work that strictly followed the science of climate change?
   Or how would it work to follow an actuarial list of risks to human health.

The Foundation has to decide what they are doing: protecting wealth short term, or long term protection to humans.  It is time to grow up, get responsible and ask global industry to wake up and change. 

It appears they are an investment organization that gives away 7% of its funds as grants.  I would want the greatest philanthropic organization in the world to change the world in smart ways and use the strength of its endowment to invest in change as well as derive the resources to do its good work.

It is a real-world lip service to fund a malaria cure, while encouraging, enabling and enhancing flooding and warming.  It is the height of cynical action to improve the plight of the poor, but invest in Shell, Exxon and BP - companies that heavily pollute the communities they work in and contribute tons of CO2 emission into the air.  This is a time when we need to develop and deploy carbon-free energy systems. 

They are one of the big institutions that can do much save civilization.  In a perfect world, I would not publicly criticize as it is impolite.  I would work from within, and wait and perhaps whisper with my donation, and praise any positive work in that direction.  But I fear world climate is changing faster than foundation bureaucracy can move to face it.   Perhaps words from blogs and growing public opinion might move them in that direction.

We can buy time through conservation, carbon free energy usage or geo-engineering.   The first step in mitigation and adaptation is to secure the politics and then push for global unification to meet this overaching multi-nation effort.  

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is doing the right thing, helping to alleviate suffering, but possibly doing it for the wrong reason, hiding truth, protecting profit over people, unintentionally promoting heavy carbon emission.   As climate change marches forward, they risk losing all respect and credibility as they stand increasingly alone in denial or ignorance.  Soon to be up to their ankles in rising waters of change. 

The world will be looking for guidance and heros and help.   What an opportunity.

Richard Pauli
February 2009

Full disclosure - I now live in Seattle, for 7 years I worked at Microsoft, and later was part of the permatemp lawsuit against Microsoft.  Other than helping Microsoft generate massive profit, I have no dealings with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

I would be happy to post a response from the Gates Foundation either as a comment or a fully formatted guest blog entry.

Gates Foundation policy on Global warming