Enemy at the Gates
Gates Foundation invests in polluting companies that undermine its health goals
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation spends more than a billion dollars a year on promoting global health — but it invests billions more in polluting companies that cause health problems around the globe. About 5 percent of the foundation’s assets are dispersed in do-gooding grants each year, and the other 95 percent are invested; a Los Angeles Times series suggests that at least 41 percent of those investments are in companies that work counter to the foundation’s charitable goals. For example, the foundation has invested $423 million into five petroleum megacorporations, leading to a variety of catch-22s: As the foundation fights malaria, water stagnates in oil drilling holes, attracting disease-carrying mosquitoes. As the foundation fights cholera, oil spills clog rivers and contribute to waterborne diseases. As the foundation fights polio and measles, pollution from oil plants weakens children’s immune systems, making them more susceptible to those very maladies. A number of other foundations have started trying to align their investments with their missions, but so far the Gates Foundation hasn’t. Can anyone say “wake-up call”?