Review: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates

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.

How to Avoid  a Climate Disaster links

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