- Bill Gates says the best way to help poorer countries tackle climate change is to make sure they’re healthy enough to survive it.
- Gates made the remark on Monday in the annual letter he jointly pens with his wife Melinda, in which the pair spell out their broad areas of interest as philanthropists.
- The Microsoft cofounder argued that climate change is as much a public health issue as it is an environmental one.
- Countries near the equator – which are disproportionately poor by global standards – are likely to be worst hit by climate change.
- Gates argues this will disproportionately worsen the nutrition of people living in these countries, and make them more susceptible to disease.
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Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates says the best way to help poorer countries tackle climate change is to make sure they’re healthy enough to survive it.
Gates made the remark Monday in the annual letter he jointly pens with his wife and fellow philanthropist, Melinda. The letter spells out the Gates’ main philanthropic concerns and ambitions, on issues related to education, climate, health, and gender.
The Microsoft cofounder argued that climate change is as much a public health issue as it is an environmental one. In Gates’ view, simply finding ways to grow more food – though undeniably helpful – won’t wholly offset the negative health effects of climate change.
“Even if we succeed in increasing crop yields, the reality is that climate change will make it harder for many people to get the nutrition they need – which will, in turn, make them more susceptible to disease,” Gates wrote.
“The best thing we can do to help people in poor countries adapt to climate change is make sure they’re healthy enough to survive it.”
Gates’ concerns appear all-the-more pressing in light of recent research.
A 2018 study by researchers at the universities of Melbourne and Oxford found that countries situated around the equator –which are disproportionately poor by global standards – are likely to be worst hit by climate change.
Specifically, the study found that those countries will undergo bigger changes in their local climates than more temperate countries if global average surface temperatures remain at or above the 1.5- or 2-degree Celsius (2.7- to 3.6-degrees Fahrenheit) limit set by the 2016 Paris agreement.
Accordingly, Gates argued that focusing on helping malnourished people survive will be as important as preventing malnourishment from happening in the first place.
“We need to reduce the number of children who become malnourished and improve the odds that people who do suffer from malnutrition survive. That means making sure that people have access not only to the nutrients they need but also to proven interventions like vaccines, drugs, and diagnostics.”
Both Bill and Melinda Gates are longtime champions of vaccination technology. In 2012, the pair set up an award recognising people who work to increase immunization rates, with the winners receiving $US250,000.
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