A day before the inauguration, when Lady Gaga practiced “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Washington, DC, burning forest fires in Sonoma, Santa Cruz and Ventura counties in California, shocking climatologists who had never witnessed the state’s fire season stretch out in January . NASA had just announced it 2020 tied to 2016 for the warmest record. As the Covid-19 pandemic drove city dwellers to search for places that felt safer, more secure – Vermont, Kansas, Idaho – the FBI began arresting Americans who had revolted in the U.S. Capitol. Online sales of “prepper” equipment (gas masks, food preservation kits) were fast.
Bill Gates was at his sea connection in Seattle and went up to his next effort to save the planet from mass extinction. For 20 years, Gates has studied the two global afflictions of disease and poverty. These efforts led him to consider climate change and its disturbing impact on civilization. This month, Knopf publishes his latest book, How to avoid a climate disaster. Remarkably, given the state of the world, it is an optimistic, can-do kind of book, filled with solutions to a problem that President Jimmy Carter began warning about in 1977.
Last month’s inauguration of President Joe Biden had a major impact on Gates’ views. An earlier draft of the book included measures for another Donald Trump era. In November after the election, he edited these parts, including provisions on how U.S. 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 had told me during our first virtual interview in December as he sat in a glass-walled conference room at Gates Ventures, known as the Fish Pile, where he has taken meetings and chairs on the Microsoft Teams platform. during the pandemic.
Seattle’s Lake Washington glitters over his shoulder as far below a distant motorboat leaves a wake as Gates slips into his favorite posture, off with an ankle over a knee in an ergonomic conference room chair. Gates, 65, has already faced unmanageable problems from trying to eradicate polio to epic rivalries with Steve Jobs and Google. The co-founder of Microsoft also sounded the alarm early on about the need to prepare for a global pandemic. Climate change is another challenge that Gates has served on his own record.
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