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How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need Hardcover – 16 February 2021
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- Publisher : Allen Lane; 1st edition (16 February 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0241448301
- ISBN-13 : 978-0241448304
- Dimensions : 16.2 x 2.7 x 24 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 21 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Of the many books I have come across recently making the case that climate change will be a catastrophe, but we can do something about it, this is the best ... The relentless practicality of the book combined with Gates's firm faith in innovation do not promote despair. He exudes optimism; things will get better, not least because, as John Lennon once sang, they can't get no worse -- Bryan Appleyard ― Sunday Times
It is mostly concerned with solutions rather than problems. This already marks it out as something of an outlier within environmental literature... if you're after an approachable book about what needs to happen next, this is a great place to start -- Ed Conway ― The Times
Bold but well argued ... a compelling explanation of how the world can stop global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions effectively to zero... [Gates] is a serious and genuine force for good on climate change -- Bob Ward ― Observer
How to Avoid a Climate Disaster is clear, concise on a colossal subject, and intelligently holistic in its approach to the problem. -- Adam Vaughan ― New Scientist
It all makes for a meaty manifesto which Gates hopes can offer sufficient variety to appeal across political divides and "shift the conversation" away from the polarisation and misinformation that has clouded discussion about climate change up until now. -- Martin Bentham ― Evening Standard
Gates's carefully packaged nuggets of information are not only easy to understand, but they aim to provide the reader with practical tools to engage with the density of climate change information ... What Gates has achieved with his book is something rare in the swelling arena of popular climate literature. The Microsoft co-founder turned philanthropist has compiled a solutions-based strategy that is as informed on the commercial realities of scaling new technologies as it is on the environmental consequences of not doing so. -- Daniel Murray ― The Business Post
The most refreshing aspect of this book is its bracing mix of cold-eyed realism and number-crunched optimism ... Ultimately [Gates's] book is a primer on how to reorganise the global economy so that innovation focuses on the world's gravest problems. It is a powerful reminder that if mankind is to get serious about tackling them, it must do more to harness the one natural resource available in infinite quantity-human ingenuity. ― Economist
Gates plots out, in patient, simple prose, a pathway that would allow us to reduce carbon emissions from the current 51 billion tonnes a year to zero by 2050. -- Thomas Jones ― London Review of Books
From the Publisher
"To stop global warming and avoid the worst effects of climate change, humans need to stop adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
This sounds difficult, because it will be. The world has never done anything quite this big. Every country will need to change its ways, because virtually every activity in modern life—growing things, making things, getting around from place to place—involves releasing greenhouse gases.
If nothing else changes, the world will keep producing greenhouse gases, climate change will keep getting worse, and the impact on humans will in all likelihood be catastrophic.
But things can change. We already have some of the tools we need—and as for those we don’t yet have, everything I’ve learned about climate and technology makes me optimistic that we can invent them, deploy them, and, if we act fast enough, avoid a climate catastrophe.
This book is about what it will take and why I think we can do it."
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Top reviews from Australia
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am very glad to own a copy. It is strongly recommended.
The books says that CC will be bad and that we can stop it if we get to zero net carbon by 2050. This is a prediction with which I intuitively do not agree. I understand the science but the science is thin. Normally in the engineering world I inhabit I can calculate a useful result given initial conditions. That is applied science. Climate Change on the other hand relies on data models, data analytics and risk management. If Steve Jobs or Elon Musk let risk advisors run their companies they would not produce anything. So in my view CC is just the politics of risk abatement. The politics of fear.
BUT Bill Gates book is very useful because it actually explains the real effort, real cost and points to the improbability that carbon will be controlled. For the discerning reader it will show that coal for instance is only 20% of the problem. It should be a real eye opener for the climate activist. Required reading for youth who want to jump on the CC band waggon.
Highly recommend reading and sharing.
Top reviews from other countries
So after blindly accepting, the consensus position on climate science he then proceeds to tell us what we must do to combat his hypothesized scourge of climate change. Later he implores the governments of the world to unite in forcing us to do what he wants.
In my opinion, this is a very shallow look at a complex topic. It is more of a propaganda pamphlet than a serious book. Bill Gates should do his homework for his next book. Not recommended.
Bill Gates goes for the much more practical, “So what can we do about it now?” approach. This book is basically his plan to cut our carbon emissions from 51 billion tonnes to zero by 2050. That’s it in a nutshell. If we don’t then, like a bath, with even just a slow dripping tap, we’ll end up overflowing and facing some of the consequences that Wallace-Wells laid out in his earlier work.
To do this, in this enormously readable book, Gates takes us through where the emissions come from, and examines ways to work through each of those sectors, which he breaks down into making things, plugging in, growing things, getting around and keeping warm and cool.
He tackles each in turn, although he notes that we spend a lot of time thinking about “getting around” – aka transport – which accounts for 16% of net emissions, but not so much on making steel and concrete. The food industry also gets a good look-in.
Gates is putting his money where his mouth is. Throughout the book he talks about the various companies he’s invested in. This could sound a bit, “Aren’t I clever?” but it doesn’t. He’s just being practical. It comes from the work he and his wife Melinda have carried out through their Gates Foundation in doing very practical things like fighting malaria. So he’s constantly referring to people he’s met, and businesses he’s keenly following.
And throughout, he is very pragmatic. Only a few of us are willing – or even able – to pay a “Green Premium” for some of life’s essentials. He readily acknowledges that the lower the income you are in, the bigger a proportion of your overall costs something like transport will be. So paying even a small premium is simply not affordable. He’s also very aware that the big growth in greenhouse gases is likely to come from developing parts of the world where billions are coming to expect the same kinds of middle-class lifestyles that Americans and Europeans have experienced.
So, what are the solutions? Well, this isn’t really a list of things that you or I can do directly – assuming neither of us is a world leader. There are some of those things, but this is more about policy as well as corporate and governmental support and investment. When we buy the cheapest concrete or steel, there is no carbon-cost attached to it. There’s no incentive to use the greener materials.
And where there are financial incentives, they don’t necessarily help. The energy industry is rife with them, but they protect the enormously cheap fossil fuel industry. On the other hand, laws might make it ridiculously hard to build things like windfarms (a particular problem, seemingly, in the US).
There are things which make you raise your eyebrows a bit. Gates doesn’t believe that just planting lots of trees will fix things. He’s got nothing against trees but I think sees them as a too simplistic solution that will require ongoing care to payback their investment over centuries. He is a big proponent of nuclear fuel, pointing out that while wind and solar energy are fantastic, they don’t provide consistent power. And even though at heart, Gates is a technologist through and through, he doesn’t see battery technology meaningfully moving on, which causes difficulties if you need to store vast amounts of power to even out supply on windless or cloudy days.
Some will look at Gates, flying around in his private jet and wonder if he really practices what he preaches? He acknowledges his own shortcomings, but I think this book shows that he is indeed putting his money where his mouth is.
Getting to net zero will not be easy, as he repeats throughout, but it’s achievable and he’s laid out a plan to get us there.