14 Ways the World Would Be Different Without Bill Gates
A look at some of the billionaire businessman and philanthropist’s contributions, from technology to education to global health.
We wouldn’t be as close to developing toilets that don’t require sewers or water lines
Recognizing the importance of having access to toilets, Gates and his foundation hosted the Reinvented Toilet Expo in Beijing in November 2018, hoping to find feasible, scalable solutions to a worldwide sanitation crisis. Specifically, having new, off-grid sanitation products and systems could reduce deaths of half a million children under the age of five each year and the more than $200 billion that is lost due to health care costs and decreased income and productivity, according to the foundation’s website.
“This Expo showcases for the first time radically new, decentralized sanitation technologies and products that are business-ready,” Gates said during the opening plenary of the Reinvented Toilet Expo. “It’s no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems. It’s a question of how quickly this new category of off-grid solutions will scale.”
We would know less about certain tropical diseases
In 2016, the Gates Foundation gave a $27 million grant to London’s Natural History Museum as part of an initiative to address neglected tropical diseases. The project will focus on soil-transmitted helminths: a group of parasitic intestinal worms including roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm that can result in diseases with devastating consequences.
“These diseases severely affect quality of life for millions of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. Developing successful strategies to interrupt the transmission of these infections will alleviate this burden, helping to reduce poverty and having a positive economic impact,” museum director Sir Michael Dixon said in a statement.
More than 43 million Filipinos wouldn’t have health insurance
Since 2008, the Gates Foundation has committed more than $225 million to partners who are working to address the tobacco epidemic in more than 30 countries in Africa and Asia. Part of that has gone to the Philippines, where, in 2013, the government implemented the Sin Tax Law, which increased taxes on tobacco by up to 820 percent. As a result, these taxes have financed the enrollment of more than 43 million Filipinos in the country’s health insurance program, according to the Gates Foundation.
We would have fewer tools to fight climate change
Gates founded the clean-energy investment firm, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, which will invest in promising but underfunded technologies that will help stall climate change. Some project areas include grid-scale storage, liquid fuels, mini-grids, alternative building materials, and geothermal power, CNBC reports. “Breakthroughs in storage—for example, storing energy as heat or in flywheels—would make today’s renewable technology more practical and affordable,” he tells CNBC. These 22 big companies are getting rid of plastic for good.
A diagnostic test for Alzheimer’s disease would be further away
In 2017, Gates invested $50 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, a private-public partnership focused on Alzheimer’s research, marking the first time he made a financial commitment to non-infectious diseases. One of the major objectives of this investment is to create a reliable and affordable test for Alzheimer’s.
“We need a better way of diagnosing Alzheimer’s—like a simple blood test or eye exam—before we’re able to slow the progression of the disease,” Gates wrote in a statement announcing the investment. “Imagine a world where diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease is as simple as getting your blood tested during your annual physical.” Next, read on to find out the 20 books Bill Gates thinks you should read.