Bill Gates said he fears Earth might become a post-industrial wasteland plagued by heat, chronic food and energy shortages, and rampant disease unless governments and private organizations invest more time and money solving what the Microsoft chairman believes are the world's most pressing problems.
"If we project what the world will be like 10 years from now without innovation in health, education, energy, or food, the picture is quite bleak," said Gates, in his annual letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, published earlier this week.
"Health costs for the rich will escalate, forcing tough trade-offs and keeping the poor stuck in the bad situation they are in today," Gates wrote. The damage won't be limited to the Third World, Gates said.
"In the United States, rising education costs will mean that fewer people will be able to get a great college education and the public K-12 system will still be doing a poor job for the underprivileged," he said.
Gates added that stalled innovation could ultimately lead to a hotter planet where food and energy are in short supply.
"We will have to increase the price of energy to reduce consumption, and the poor will suffer from both this higher cost and the effects of climate change. In food we will have big shortages because we won't have enough land to feed the world's growing population and supports its richer diet," said Gates.
But Gates said the all this bleakness can be avoided if enough money is spent developing technological and social innovations that add efficiency to agriculture, medicine, education, and other key fields.
"Rich governments need to spend more on research and development," said Gates.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is doing its part, Gates said, by funding research into vaccines, fertilizers, educational reform, and other key areas.
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