The Guardian’s climate change campaign to “keep it in the ground” (overall, a worthy campaign) took a sycophantic turn with its new Dear Bill video, a collection of individual pleas to Bill Gates and his foundation to divest their fossil fuel holdings. Is it just me or is there something pathetic and dreadful that we turn to our billionaires as though our very survival as a civilization depends upon their goodwill?
Governments and in particular democratic societies are principally responsible for taking collective action against existential threats, especially those posed by climate change. Certainly there’s a critical role for nonprofits, NGO’s, the private sector and individuals to play but do we need to get down on our knees to get the kind of action that’s needed?
Billionaires do not come from other planets nor do they tend to come from places like Madagascar and Bangladesh. Billionaires benefit enormously from the gifts that modern society provides them, not least of which is law and order, infrastructure and ready access to quality education. In other words, billionaires like Bill Gates should not be treated like deities to somehow appeal for their help.
It would be great if the Gates Foundation were to divest its fossil fuel holdings and certainly (in my opinion) the right thing to do. But let’s be clear, they also have a tremendous amount at stake from the dangers climate change poses to humanity.
Thank you Bill Gates and your foundation for the humanitarian work you do but this video is not the right way to spur you to take action.
Here’s the link to the original Guardian post and video:
Dear Bill Gates: ‘Will you lead the fight against climate change?’