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How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the…

by Bill Gates

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4342047,711 (3.84)15
In this urgent, authoritative book, Bill Gates sets out a wide-ranging, practical--and accessible--plan for how the world can get to zero greenhouse gas emissions in time to avoid a climate catastrophe. Bill Gates has spent a decade investigating the causes and effects of climate change. With the help of experts in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, political science, and finance, he has focused on what must be done in order to stop the planet's slide to certain environmental disaster. In this book, he not only explains why we need to work toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, but also details what we need to do to achieve this profoundly important goal. He gives us a clear-eyed description of the challenges we face. Drawing on his understanding of innovation and what it takes to get new ideas into the market, he describes the areas in which technology is already helping to reduce emissions, where and how the current technology can be made to function more effectively, where breakthrough technologies are needed, and who is working on these essential innovations. Finally, he lays out a concrete, practical plan for achieving the goal of zero emissions--suggesting not only policies that governments should adopt, but what we as individuals can do to keep our government, our employers, and ourselves accountable in this crucial enterprise. As Bill Gates makes clear, achieving zero emissions will not be simple or easy to do, but if we follow the plan he sets out here, it is a goal firmly within our reach. *This audiobook includes a downloadable PDF of charts, graphs, and pictures from the book.… (more)
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75 pp. in, the book has useful charts and tables that give a neophyte to the subject some good high-level frames of reference.

Gates is clear that net-zero by 2050 is required. he doesn't give wiggle room on that. we're at 51 million tons per year, according to him. what does "net-zero" mean? it means that we will still be using energy in a greenhouse gas emitting fashion, but with a combination of outright reduction of emission and application of remediation/mitigation approaches, that the amount of emission will mathematically "equal" zero.

Gates' idea of a green premium is how much extra it costs to use a non-greenhouse gas emitting energy source. he likes to use it as a guide to determine which approaches are already close enough (a zero or negative green premium) that we need to be implementing them now, in broader application, and which approaches are not close enough in the green premium calculation, but are promising enough that they merit further investment, research, and development.

his opinion is that we need to increase the energy levels that are available to less wealthy countries, in a manner that does not cause more emission.

context:
my detailed knowledge of climate change is basically nil. i have never gone into it in that level of detail. but i do believe it is occurring and i do believe a lot of the current scenario is anthropogenic. i know there is a certain amount of non-human sourced greenhouse gases that are released into the atmosphere. so no, it is not 100% human caused. but, human material culture and increased/increasing levels of material pursuit/production/consumption, rising material standards of living in "developing" countries, and rising population, have led to higher energy production/consumption, which has led to larger amounts of C02/CO2 equivalents being released into the atmosphere.

the truth is, reading this book is bumming me out. i didn't believe before reading it, nor do i believe now, that "we" will "solve" this issue in enough time to avoid some bad consequences. so, what do i mean by that? rising sea level? population displacement? drought? what? i don't really know, and i'm not sure anyone does. but, given inertia, international zero-sum politics, a general psychological unwillingness to square concretely with the fact that our quotidian existence has us well down the path of ecological impact that will, if unabated, cause the absolute worst of projected effects, i don't think we'll pull this off before deaths result.
  stevenpkent | Apr 30, 2022 |
There are some very good thoughts in this book.

But for me he repeated himself to often sometimes and in it was missing detailed information in some places for me

Would recomend reading it, when you´re interested in climate change and technologie that could solve some problems ( )
  jabumble | Sep 4, 2021 |
It’s no secret that climate change has begun to affect human lifestyles. Unfortunately, world politics and economics are ill-positioned to deal with this crisis. If we can’t agree that vaccines are a good thing, how can we agree on the difficult sacrifices required to preserve our planet for future generations? Despite this (or perhaps because of this), Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft and the philanthropy Gates Foundation, is lending not only his name but also his time/energy to the effort. In this text, he approaches the crisis as an engineering problem and spells out specific needs and solutions for the world to embrace. However, he neglects to address how to overcome politically entrenched special interests groups.

Without a doubt, the billionaire Gates is thinking about his legacy as he attempts to give much of his fortune away through the Gates Foundation. This book, likewise, is certainly part of these efforts. Nonetheless, he shows particular care in how he deals with these issues in detail. He talks about specific technologies and economic impacts. This book does not go the way of a mere jeremiad about the environment, but is rather concerned with specifics of how humans will survive under new conditions. It will upset many who stand to lose power, money, and influence in a remade world economy.

This book covers everything from what is happening and why, to how society must change and how individuals can promote change today. He also shows attention to the concerns of poorer nations – those most affected by climate change who did the least to cause it. This book’s most difficult aspect is that it covers so many details that the reader is easily overwhelmed. That just goes to show that climate change is a complex problem with complex solutions.

Gates is ambitious to tackle this subject. He does an excellent job at providing high-level analysis. However, readers cannot help if they feel he is being a bit idealistic about solutions. Climate change is on the radar of politicians in developed countries, but if the public lacks the political will to attack COVID squarely, how can we unify in attack against something as difficult and upsetting as climate change? I’m a bit cynical that we will. Gates needs helpers among national leaders in the ruling classes. Still, technologists should bite at these prospects, however, because he talks details about economic opportunities to seize the future.

With this book, Gates attempts to pique the interests of the reading public about the effects of climate change. He does so in a practical and helpful way that advances the conversation. He is not a partisan of any political ideology nor a scientific ideology. He is realistic and honest about the sacrifices needed. I lament that society does not have much of a choice about tackling this matter. I also lament that so many think that we do, choosing short-term financial gain over long-term human health. It’s time to act, and Gates makes that case forthrightly. I’m wondering, though, is anyone listening? ( )
  scottjpearson | Aug 10, 2021 |
A very succinct and educational book. We owe it to ourselves, to the planet and to future generations to act now. ( )
  geoff79 | Jul 11, 2021 |
This is exactly the book about climate change you would expect from Bill Gates. What do I mean by that?

1. Bill Gates is a technology nerd who also had the business savvy to grow a start-up tech company into one of the largest corporations in the world. While the title of this book may make you think it's aimed at you and I, its really not. It's aimed at government and business leaders, and its full of charts and graphs and useful information to help prioritize the things they can do to move societies globally to zero carbon emissions. There is a bit at the end of the book about what you and I can do, but it felt mostly like an afterthought to me.

2. Gates and his soon to be ex-wife Melinda have a foundation focused on using business tools and innovation to tackle issues like poverty and disease. In this book he tackles the issue of climate change like a business challenge, and uses a simple tool a consultant would love (the Green Premium) to point out areas where the world needs to innovate solutions to drive carbon emissions down. Gates takes it as given that we can't expect poorer nations to stop progress in advancing the quality of life for their citizens, even though, all else being equal, those advances will increase carbon emissions. Rather, he expects nations like the US, with much higher budgets for research and innovation (both public and private), to take the lead on finding the solutions that will drive those emissions down. By doing so, the richer nations will benefit from creating new technologies that will have worldwide marketability.

3. Bill Gates is a billionaire who owns multiple houses, jets, etc. Many people take Gates' lifestyle and large carbon footprint (he flew his own jet to the Paris Climate talks!) as prima facie evidence that he's a hypocrite and that this book is all about making us "little people" pay the price for solving climate change. On the contrary, Gates fully admits in the book that he and his family have a large carbon footprint. He also expresses the view that most of us humans don't want to suffer the climate disaster that's coming, but that doesn't mean we also don't want, for ourselves and our children, all the benefits of modern living that as a side effect unfortunately lead us to that disaster. This is a part of the central point of the book - that innovation is needed and can be achieved to drive our societies to zero carbon emissions while still allowing for more and more humans to enjoy the good life.

I give How to Avoid a Climate Disaster 4 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐ - I really liked this book and was glad I read it. I learned quite a bit from reading it. I recommend it to anyone interested in climate change and what we as societies will need to do to address it.

I listened to the audiobook version of this book. Gates voices the Introduction, and Wil Wheaton narrates the rest of the book. I thought Wheaton was the perfect choice, and he did an excellent job. ( )
1 vote stevesbookstuff | Jun 22, 2021 |
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In this urgent, authoritative book, Bill Gates sets out a wide-ranging, practical--and accessible--plan for how the world can get to zero greenhouse gas emissions in time to avoid a climate catastrophe. Bill Gates has spent a decade investigating the causes and effects of climate change. With the help of experts in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, political science, and finance, he has focused on what must be done in order to stop the planet's slide to certain environmental disaster. In this book, he not only explains why we need to work toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, but also details what we need to do to achieve this profoundly important goal. He gives us a clear-eyed description of the challenges we face. Drawing on his understanding of innovation and what it takes to get new ideas into the market, he describes the areas in which technology is already helping to reduce emissions, where and how the current technology can be made to function more effectively, where breakthrough technologies are needed, and who is working on these essential innovations. Finally, he lays out a concrete, practical plan for achieving the goal of zero emissions--suggesting not only policies that governments should adopt, but what we as individuals can do to keep our government, our employers, and ourselves accountable in this crucial enterprise. As Bill Gates makes clear, achieving zero emissions will not be simple or easy to do, but if we follow the plan he sets out here, it is a goal firmly within our reach. *This audiobook includes a downloadable PDF of charts, graphs, and pictures from the book.

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Bill Gates has spent a decade investigating the causes and effects of climate change. With the help of experts in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, political science, and finance, he has focused on what must be done in order to stop the planet's slide toward certain environmental disaster. In this book, he not only explains why we need to work toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, but also details what we need to do to achieve this profoundly important goal.

He gives us a clear-eyed description of the challenges we face. Drawing on his understanding of innovation and what it takes to get new ideas into the market, he describes the areas in which technology is already helping to reduce emissions, where and how the current technology can be made to function more effectively, where breakthrough technologies are needed, and who is working on these essential innovations. Finally, he lays out a concrete, practical plan for achieving the goal of zero emissions-suggesting not only policies that governments should adopt, but what we as individuals can do to keep our government, our employers, and ourselves accountable in this crucial enterprise.
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