How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – by Bill Gates

I’d been looking at this book anyway and it might have been on my crowded Wish List. (I keep about 200  books on my Wish Lists and I pare and add regularly.) Anyway – there is was one day on sale. Okay – fine.

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: 
The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need
By Bill Gates
Read by the author: 6 hours
Rating – 8 / non=fiction- climate change 

I generally try to follow major environmental news and there is a lot of changes a lot. There’s a lot of new technology as well as increasing  threats especially in the area of climate.   

 I expected a dry and nerdy book but nope, this is a very readable book. And where I’d intended to read a chapter a day, I got involved and listened to it almost straight through. What Gates has done is to write a progress report on how we’re coming along in dealing with climate change which is creeping up on us with increasing speed.  It’s a very big job if we’re going to avoid the disaster it will be if not addressed promptly. 

For such a big job, it’s very nicely organized and clearly written.   This book made #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list the week it was released.  Furthermore Gastes is a very competent reader and there’s a pdf file if you want the photos, charts and graphs (which I did).  

Table of Contents: 
• Introduction: 51 billion to zero 
• Why Zero? 
We have to get to zero greenhouse emissions because anything else will build up and we’ll never get rid of what we have which is way too much now. Much of the knowledge and technology will have to be developed, but quite a number of policies and regulations will have to be changed because although we have some – many are outdated and it’s VERY difficult to get energy policies changed.  (But this book is NOT a political tract.) This will be hard 

 • Five questions to ask in every climate conversation:
• How we plug in 
• How we make things 
• How we grow things 
• How we get around 
• How we keep cool and stay warm 
• Adapting to a warmer world 
• Why government policies matter 
• A plan for getting to zero 
• What each of us can do.

There are drawbacks to converting to “zero” emissions. The problem is extremely complex, and innovation takes decades so we need to get busy. We don’t have all the tools we need but we have do tools which should be used now  We need to drive the green premium down.  (Green products cost more.) What can we do help the world’s poorest who have the most to lose but did the least to create the problem. 

The wealthiest countries in the world are the ones who will have to go first in developing technologies for energy, transitioning to using them, and passing/enforcing effective regulations. These are the countries who are able to do that.  There are many pathways but no matter which one we take it will be hard.  But we can do it.  

And one by one Gates describes what has to be done to fight climate change effectively. He’s got a time-line. He’s includes spending, research and development of more risky ideas – this could be international like the Genome Project and the projects could be massive and funded for years in advance, match projects to needs and use early stage research and corporations. There are lots of ideas and some of them are veery specific and promising as well as being as cost effective as possible.    

Then there are the regulations which the governments need to coordinate and develop and enforce for electricity and electrofuels.  

This is not a political tract -he doesn’t espouse either government research and innovation or individual push in those directions. It’s very pragmatic – just like the US has pretty much always been.

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