The needs of the poor are greater than the money available to help them, but that’s not enough to discourage Bill Gates in his work as co-chair of the world’s largest charitable foundation. 

 In his second annual letter, issued Monday, Gates says investment in science and technology can leverage those dollars and make more of a difference than charity and government aid alone.

The needs of the poor are greater than the money available to help them, but that’s not enough to discourage Bill Gates in his work as co-chair of the world’s largest charitable foundation.

 

In his second annual letter, issued Monday, Gates says investment in science and technology can leverage those dollars and make more of a difference than charity and government aid alone.

 

In his 19-page letter, Gates says the foundation currently is backing 30 areas of innovation including online learning, teacher improvement, malaria vaccine development, HIV prevention, and genetically modified seeds.

 

The Seattle-based foundation focuses most of its donations on global health, agriculture development and education. Since 1994, the foundation has committed to $21.3 billion in grants. As of Sept. 30, 2009, its endowment totaled $34.17 billion.

Gates said his and his wife’s experience at Microsoft Corp. is not the only reason they are so taken with technology.

 

Melinda and I see our foundation’s key role as investing in innovations that would not otherwise be funded,” he wrote. “ This draws not only on our backgrounds in technology but also on the foundation’s size and ability to take a long-term view and take large risks on new approaches.”

 

The letter ends with Gates’ explanation about why the foundation hasn’t gotten involved in working to fight climate change, despite its potential impact on the poorest nations.

 

He said he believes developing electricity that is cheaper than coal and emits no greenhouse gasses is the most important innovation to help fight climate change, but the foundation has not yet found a way it can play a unique role in this area. He added, however, that outside of the foundation he personally is investing in energy research.

I am surprised that the climate debate hasn’t focused more on encouraging R&D since it is critical to getting to zero emissions,” said the man who admits to spending some of his spare time watching online MIT lectures on physics and chemistry.

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