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Aug. 8, 2020, 8:07 a.m. EDT

Bill Gates: Another crisis looms and it could be worse than the coronavirus

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By Shawn Langlois, MarketWatch

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Bill Gates is sounding another alarm.

‘By 2060, climate change could be just as deadly as COVID-19, and by 2100, it could be five times as deadly.’

That’s Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT +1.58% co-founder Bill Gates urging the government to address climate change with the same “sense of urgency” as it has the coronavirus crisis. If the proper measures aren’t taken, he wrote in a blog post this week , then the impact could be far more devastating.

Gates put the mortality rate of coronavirus at about 14 deaths per 100,000. By the end of the century, if the emissions growth rate stays its current course, he said we could be faced with an extra 73 deaths per 100,000 people due to rising global temperatures.

“As awful as this pandemic is, climate change could be worse,” he wrote. “If you want to understand the kind of damage that climate change will inflict, look at COVID-19 and spread the pain out over a much longer period of time. The loss of life and economic misery caused by this pandemic are on par with what will happen regularly if we do not eliminate the world’s carbon emissions.”

Gates projected that, within 20 years, the economic damage from climate change will be as bad as having the equivalent of a COVID-19 pandemic every decade.

“The key point is not that climate change will be disastrous,” he said. “The key point is that, if we learn the lessons of COVID-19, we can approach climate change more informed about the consequences of inaction, and more prepared to save lives and prevent the worst possible outcome. The current global crisis can inform our response to the next one.”

We need to let science and innovation lead the way, Gates said, finding the necessary solutions, such as cleaner sources of energy and other zero-carbon tools, that work not only for the global powers, but for poorer countries poised to get hit the hardest, as well.

“The effects of climate change will almost certainly be harsher than COVID-19’s, and they will be the worst for the people who did the least to cause them,” Gates continued. “The countries that are contributing the most to this problem have a responsibility to try to solve it.”

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Shawn Langlois is an editor and writer for MarketWatch in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @slangwise.

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