Is there a more demoralizing problem than global warming? Discussing it feels utterly hopeless. Climate skeptics are unmoveable despite the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence. Intelligent, well-meaning conservative friends of mine, people I like and respect, simply reject that the problem exists, let alone that we ought to fix it.
So I found this video of Bill Gates at TED heartening. Saddled as we are with a feckless government and a venomous, polarized political climate, it is good to know there are actual adults working on solutions. It is a hopeful note to take with you into the weekend.
Also, it occurs to me that Bill Gates has become, surprisingly, a model of how the obscenely wealthy ought to behave. Instead of using his wealth for self-indulgence or simply to go on making more and more money to no real purpose, as so many rich guys do, he has become a powerful, articulate force for good. Whatever you may think of his products or his business tactics at Microsoft (and I am no fan), Gates has become a sort of self-funded NGO, consciously emulating enlightened plutocrats past, Carnegie in particular. No longer the nerdy villain to Steve Jobs’s hip, black-turtlenecked rebel, Gates now takes on problems that seem too big even for governments: disease and poverty in Africa, global warming. Isn’t that a greater contribution than, say, the iPad?