Microsoft founder Bill Gates has warned that while the COVID-19 pandemic is “horrible,” the climate change crisis could be worse,media CNET reported. While he acknowledged that it was difficult to focus on other things than the new crown pandemic, Gates said Wednesday that efforts to combat climate change must now be stepped up to avoid a climate catastrophe.
“If you want to understand what the damage climate change can do, look at COVID-19 and spread the pain over a longer period of time,” Gates wrote on his blog. “If we do not eliminate the world’s carbon emissions, the loss of life and economic suffering will be comparable to the situation created by the epidemic.”
According to the current death toll from COVID-19, Gates said about 14 people per 100,000 people die from the new coronavirus. Within 40 years, he said, the rise in temperature is expected to raise the same number of global deaths, but by 2100 it could lead to as many as 73 deaths per 100,000 people.
“Climate change could be as deadly as COVID-19 by 2060, and by 2100 it could be five times as deadly.” Gates said. The economic costs of climate change will be equivalent to a COVID-19 pandemic every decade.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 because of the suspension of cars and air traffic, Gates said that could be equivalent to a total reduction of only 8 percent — or 47 billion tons of carbon emissions. Even this small-scale reduction, he says, is unsustainable because it relies on a new crown virus blockade rather than a practical solution to climate change.
“It’s not something anyone wants to continue,” Gates said. “Furthermore, these reductions are literally achieved at the greatest possible cost.”
Just as people need COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines, people need new tools to combat climate change, produce electricity, make products, grow food, heat and cool buildings, and innovate transportation products on a zero-carbon scale, Gates said.