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Fact check: Claim missing context on Bill Gates 2010 quote about population sustainability

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 1/21/2022 Sudiksha Kochi, USA TODAY

The claim: Irish newspaper shows a Bill Gates quote about population control

Social media users are claiming that billionaire tech titan Bill Gates is part of a conspiracy to depopulate the Earth.

A short video shared to Instagram Jan. 16 shows a woman holding a July 2011 edition of the Sovereign Independent, an Irish newspaper no longer in circulation.

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The top headline of the front page reads "Depopulation Through Forced Vaccination: The Zero Carbon Solution!" 

The clip then zooms into a quote next to the headline from Gates, whom the paper refers to as "Billy 'The Kid Killer' Gates."

"The world today has 6.8 billion people," reads the quote. "That's headed up to about 9 billion. Now, if we do a really great job on new vaccines, health care, reproductive health services, we could lower that by perhaps 10 or 15 percent." The word "vaccines" is underlined in the quote.

The post generated over 1,000 likes in less than a week. 

"Population control," reads the caption of the post.

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Variations of this claim have received over 500 likes on Instagram and close to 500 shares on Facebook

But the claim doesn't tell the whole story.

The quote is part of a TEDx talk Gates gave 12 years ago, and it has nothing to do with a purported conspiracy to control the number of humans in the world.

USA TODAY reached out to the social media users who shared the claim for comment. 

Gates quote taken out of context


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The quote in the newspaper comes from Gates' 2010 TEDx talk "Innovating to Zero" about how to reduce worldwide carbon dioxide levels to zero.

In the 27-minute clip, Gates said there are "four factors" that can solve the problem of carbon emission. One factor concerns population sustainability, but it does not make up the entire solution, as the newspaper in the video claims.

With better health care and improved access to vaccines, Gates said, the world's population could reduce by 10% to 15%. The quote, in context, was referring to the stabilization of future population growth to help reduce carbon emissions.

The other three factors are "the services each person is using on average, the energy, on average, for each service, and the CO2 being put out per unit of energy," Gates said during the TEDx talk

USA TODAY found several other remarks by Gates that provide further context around Gates' concept of population stability, which has nothing to do with depopulation through forced vaccination. 

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Women in areas with poor health care tend to have more children because of a higher mortality rate, according to the 2014 annual letter from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to fighting disease and inequity worldwide. 

Research from the foundation shows that as child mortality rates dropped in countries like Brazil due to improved health care, so did the birth rate. 

"When children are well-nourished, fully vaccinated, and treated for common illnesses like diarrhea, malaria, and pneumonia, the future gets a lot more predictable," reads the annual letter. "Parents start making decisions based on the reasonable expectation that their children will live."

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His concept is also expressed in a 2-minute YouTube video, in which Gates said that "as health improves, families choose to have less children."

He pointed to a line chart in the video that showed an inverse relationship between the improvement of health care and the annual growth rate of the world population between 1980 and 2100.

Forbes reported that through vaccination, Gates is hoping to save "the kids already born," not to "prevent births" or kill off kids, as the poster claims.

USA TODAY has previously debunked claims about Bill Gates.

Our rating: Missing context

Based on our research, we rate MISSING CONTEXT the claim that an Irish newspaper shows a Bill Gates quote about population control because without additional context, the claim is misleading. The quote comes from a TEDx talk Gate gave about how to reduce carbon emissions. His concept of population sustainability is about how to save children through improved health care services, including access to vaccinations.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Claim missing context on Bill Gates 2010 quote about population sustainability

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