"The scariest thing of all is not that we're behind. We just have to accept that."

Bill of Fail

If you see Bill Gates, maybe don't ask him about the state of the world. He's really going through it. And honestly, we get it.

Back in 2015, the UN made a list of 17 sustainability goals — to "end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change by 2030," as The New York Times explains. No small dice.

Upon that UN announcement, Gates and ex-wife Melinda decided to focus The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's efforts on these sustainability benchmarks. Sadly, though, halfway to that 2030 finish line, we're apparently nowhere close to where we need to be.

"We're in a worse place than I expected," Gates told the NYT. "The effects of the pandemic and now the effects of the war in Ukraine are very dramatic, and there are huge setbacks on all these measures. And these measures are super important — even if we missed the goal, we're still talking about millions of lives."

Action or Distraction

In his conversation with the NYT, the billionaire philanthropist touched on a number of important topics. His most striking comment, though? Sure, Gates, like many of us, is concerned with the state of all of these hopeful — though necessary — benchmarks. But what really has him fuming is the role that distraction seems to be playing in the failure to meet them.

"The scariest thing of all is not that we're behind. We just have to accept that. It's the ongoing distraction of the war in Ukraine from helping poor countries and making progress on both climate adaptation and mitigation," Gates added. "That's a huge thing — whether it's defense costs, electricity costs, refugee costs, fertilizer costs."

"With the war on top of the pandemic, and now with interest rates going up, with high levels of debt everywhere, but including in Africa," he continued, "the next five years are going to be challenging just to maintain the world's attention."

He has a point. Humanity has a lot of work to do if we want to save the planet and each other, though the actionable steps needed to meet these 2030 goals are all too easily lost between devastating headlines. But if we're going to get any closer to progress, we can't lose focus — especially when those least responsible for our impending doom will be the first to bear its weight.

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