Bill Gates and environmental leadership

Did you see Bill Gates’s TED talk on pandemics from 2015, years before Covid? He foretold what scientists had predicted for decades and we came to see unfold around us. From the pandemic’s start, he spoke on the news on the importance of wearing a mask.

Bill Gates

Imagine if after speaking about masks, he held a party for hundreds of people in close quarters, none of them wearing a mask. From a numerical standpoint, one person’s actions or even hundreds’, even Bill Gates and his friends, hardly matter out of 7.8 billion. Only governments and corporations could change things at that level.

Of course, that “logic” is nonsense. Even without his resources and connections, we all influence people around us. Suggesting wearing masks and then flouting his own advice would undermine his credibility. He would motivate people not to wear masks and to see advice from anyone to wear them as naive or stupid.

Yet when he speaks on our environment and then returns to his mansion by private jet, we don’t bat an eye. On the contrary, we excuse him, accepting excuses we wouldn’t accept about masks, probably because we want to use the excuses ourselves. If you refused to wear masks or know people who did, you and they probably see his mask advice and wearing as all pointless, maybe calling it virtue signaling. After doing the last exercise of leading five people through sharing and acting on their environment values, you want and expect the opposite in our environmental talk and behavior. You want and expect genuineness and authenticity, not out of insincere virtue signaling but from knowing people not doing it are missing out.

Just as you can lead people about preventing covid transmission more effectively than anyone who doesn’t wear a mask, with minimal practice, you can lead better than any “expert” who hasn’t actually practiced stewardship or acting sustainably. They may know more facts or “little things you can do for the environment,” but you have more experience, skills, and joy leading. You’ve learned that acting in stewardship doesn’t take time or money but gives it. It doesn’t get in the way of relationships but deepens them.

You can see Gates, Al Gore, Leonardo DiCaprio, and their peers, as well as the scientific community, undermining their own legacies as surely as Gates would have had he hosted a maskless party after telling the world to wear them. Their legacies otherwise could lead the world to act in stewardship. Instead they motivate as many people to oppose them and pollute as much or more than before as to pollute less. They’ve polarized the population to move away from the average but probably not changed the average.

Here’s his 2015 video for those who haven’t seen it:

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