Cover Image: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

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How to Avoid a Climate Disaster is a call to action in order to avoid the doom of climate change and the damage to our planet and the human race.  The writing style is easy and aimed at everyone.  He includes practical solutions for those in power and for the general public.  It is definitely a wake up call as time is running out.

Bill Gates has a big voice and a lot of leverage due to his high profile and prominent place in the world.  But on the downside his position is not relatable to the average person and it seems that he still benefits from a highly privileged (and often polluting) lifestyle.  However this should not deter from the wealth of information and message the book urgently tries to get across.  I hope everyone gets on board whatever their position in life before it is too late
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This is a very readable book (even for a layperson like me!)  It is a serious and complicated subject but Bill Gates gives his information in balanced, clear and simple terms. It is certainly a wake-up call for us all to take action now and realise we all have individual responsibility to make changes.
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By far the most serious tome on this list, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates takes climate change head-on with no prevarication around the big issues that will define the rest of our lives. I listened to the Audible version which was impeccably narrated by Wil Wheaton with an introduction from the author. The book contains many graphs and charts and so, if you choose to purchase the Audible edition, you will also receive a PDF where you can view these (the narrator refers you to the PDF when relevant). 

This detailed book begins by briefly introducing the history of climate change: how did we get to this position and how do we know it’s a problem, before diving right into the difficulties of finding solutions. Chapter two is literally titled “This Will Be Hard” so Gates pulls no punches on the subject. He lists the five questions we should ask in every climate conversation (also useful for analyzing news reports on so-called breakthroughs and policy changes), then tackles five major areas in which we need changes and innovations: How We Plug-In, How We Make Things, How We Grow Things, How We Get Around, and How We Keep Cool and Stay Warm. In each area, he looks at the problems, potential ideas, and solutions to the barriers we face. Toward the end, he also tackles the importance of government policies and offers ideas of what we as individuals can do.

That final one raises what could be seen as a flaw with this book: for the most part, it is talking about changes at a far bigger scale than any of us are capable of implementing. International and national level government policy changes, fundamental shifts in the way corporations do business, and dramatic changes to infrastructure. It could leave you feeling disheartened, but somehow it doesn’t. I found myself inspired to learn more and more informed to have opinions I can share with my own representatives. Besides, our individual efforts to recycle, grow our own vegetables or switch to an electric car won’t make a huge difference if our governments continue to refuse to make the big level changes they need to.

Of course, there will be criticism when someone of Bill Gates’ status decides to weigh in on a topic like this. However, Gates has already proved himself to be on-the-ball when it comes to recognizing flaws in our readiness to deal with pressing global issues (watch his TED talk on pandemics from 2015), and having someone in his position speak out might help encourage more folks to start making the big changes we’re going to need everyone to be on board with within the next few years. At least, I hope it will…
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How To Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates 
Rating: 4*
It was Earth day yesterday and this is the perfect book for educating yourself about the basics of climate change, the innovative solutions to the problem and the breakthroughs we need.  
“There are 2 numbers you need to know about climate change. The first is 51 billion. The other is zero. 51 billion is how many tons of greenhouse gases the world adds to the atmosphere every year. Zero is what we need to aim for”
Part of my degree was to do with climate change, so the only reason this book is rated down is because I didn’t really learn anything new – it was nice however to get some refreshed statistics on the global climate situation. I read this in two sittings -  I was in a non-fiction mood and couldn’t put it down! 
It starts off talking about why we need to get to zero and how rising temperatures will affect different people around the world (I love this section as my person interest is in the interaction with people and climate), then Gates goes onto talking about the current adaptation and mitigation technologies available to us and how useful they will be contributing to reaching zero carbon. He also talks about where technological breakthroughs will be needed.
Although we have some super cool climate tech lying around new innovations need to be developed and spread around the world in the next few decades 
I also enjoyed the last chapter which talked about how COVID-19 has undone decades of progress on poverty and disease in the world. However, despite the pandemic climate change remained very high up on the global agenda as an issue that needs addressing which is amazing.
In short I’d recommend this to anyone who wants to learn more about climate change and the current solutions we have to solve the problem. Despite already having background knowledge I found it to be a super interesting read!
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I liked the way this was written, easy, with facts and figures. I liked the way the author really made me think about my actions. 

Thank you NetGalley for my complimentary copy in return for my honest review.
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I loved this book! Reading this book was like peeking into the mind of Bill Gates himself.  The way he goes around teaching the framework of learning about climate change, that in itself is mind boggling!
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Bill Gates’ How to Avoid a Climate disaster is a plainly-written, easy to understand book on the matter. His structured approach to problem solving in itself is a wonder to behold as it clearly identifies a problem (man-made climate change caused by carbon emissions), a solution (net zero emissions by 2050), potential ways to achieve it (with a breakdown by sectors), and obstacles to be overcome (mainly cost, technology and the need to implement those innovations without hampering growth, especially in developing countries).

Understandably, there’s a stronger focus on figures and practices in the US, but the main ideas can be transferred to other contexts and countries. Its chapter on food production is disappointing as it takes factory farming as a given and fails to consider ecological and regenerative farming approaches, looking, instead, for silver bullets that address the symptoms of man-made issues, but not their causes. 

Still, it is an incredibly well-researched, well-written, and well-intentioned book. It calls for a collaborative and non-partisan approach in our search for solutions, it opens up the dialogue on climate change, and highlights not only the ecological benefits of avoiding a climate disaster, but also the economic benefits of investing in carbon-free R&D.
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An accessible and well-written book that addresses one of the most important issues we are facing today. Microsoft founder, Bill Gates offers tangible solutions and fully explains the large-scale step changes we must take to fight climate change, beyond just individual calls to recycle.  There is not that much which is new, but that which is is clearly explained.  There's a healthy dose of self-congratulation but that should not detract from what is an interesting and insightful read.

With thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the review copy.
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Bill Gates perfectly balances a tone of optimism and urgency in this timely book on climate change. I found it an incredibly interesting summary of the issues that our planet is facing and the steps needed to combat them. Gates presents his research and knowledge in an accessible and friendly way. I learnt a lot and particularly found the sections around agriculture insightful. A must read!
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Press UK for this ARC.
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When I got the email through from NetGalley I almost ignored it. I try not to request too many books, I have a massive tbr as it is! But something in the tag line caught me, and I opened the email up. A book about climate change? Well now this is right up my alley, I can't not request it! I was so excited that I requested it via ebook and also audiobook, and I got both! I mainly read the book via ebook as I knew I'd want to see the graphs, but I also enjoyed the audiobook.

Sticking with the voice of the book, Gates has a very interpersonal style throughout. It very much feels like he's sat down for a coffee with you somewhere, going over the data that he has and making an impassioned argument. I think this was a great choice as it will stop those unfamiliar with the subject from feeling as though they are being spoken down to. It also allows for moments of humour and self-clarity which allow you to connect with the author and be more invested in the points he's making.

Now, onto the guts of the book.

This was such an incredibly interesting read. As someone who has studied climate change from an environmental perspective I've always had views and opinions about what needs to be done and the steps that are currently being taken. I'd never, however, seen anything from a business perspective that was actively encouraging taking steps to go green. That? Well that was the biggest takeaway for me from this book. This book not only goes into what can be done about climate change on various levels (more on that in a moment) but it breaks it down to the respective costs, compares this to the costs of how the current methods run, and then talks about the green tax that is present and how this can be reduced through innovation and legislation. 

The clear breakdown of the cost of these carbon neutral methods, as well as a clear comparison to current costs, really brings the reality of the economic side of this proposal to light. The reality is that without the backing of those with economic power, it will be all but impossible to reach carbon neutrality. Therefore, these steps which encourage and motivate greener alternatives are so important to implement. The importance of governments, on a local, national, and international level, is clearly demonstrated. With Gates even going as far to provide examples of how they could and should act in order to bring us closer to carbon zero.

In terms of those steps that can be carried out in order to reduce the carbon that is emitted into the atmosphere, these are split up into clear steps. Showing the emitters and what can be done about these. From manufacturing, to farming, to transport and more. Each polluter is mentioned, their impact demonstrated, and various options for how these can be tackled are brought to the table. The weaknesses of the solutions is also mentioned, as without those the arguments aren't worth a penny. Gates also proposes solutions to these. Sometimes these are concrete, actual options (including options for greener concrete!), and sometimes it is simply stating that we need to carry out more research in these areas. That there needs to be more funding.

Of course Gates has been known to invest in many a start-up or a R&D opportunity. In order to reduce his bias, he doesn't mention these companies by name throughout the book. I'm sure with a little bit of sleuthing you'd be able to match up the companies that he's talking about to his investments, but the intent is clear. Regardless of his economic investment in these companies, his investment in the issue itself is just as strong.

I have reviewed both the text and the audio versions of this book. The vast majority of the content of my reviews are the same as, of course, it's the same book. But I have attempted to focus more on the audio aspect and features within this version of my review.
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🔥 In "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster," Bill Gates shows us his philanthropic and optimistic side, analyzing the steps needed to address climate change through innovation. It is a book aimed primarily at entrepreneurs. Of course, the ordinary citizen can understand it perfectly, because Gates' ability to synthesize impressive.

🔥 Global warming is a controversial topic, particularly in the United States, where there are people who deny it. That's why I found it interesting that Bill Gates approached the subject from a business opportunity, and not from the emotional part, because, as my brother-in-law said "the environment is not sexy". Many people are scared by the subject and prefer to ignore it. However, Gates touches on issues that concern large industries, such as construction or animal husbandry, and raises how they could become more sustainable, both environmentally and economically.

🔥 While that optic seems strategic to me, it struck me as an anthropocentric book. Ultimately, the Gates Foundation's goal is to save people, not ecosystems. And that's fine, we need more philanthropists in the world. But I was missing solutions aimed at ecosystems. For example, at one point he mentions that plastic can be a good source for storing carbon in the future; but two pages back he had mentioned that plastic takes generations to degrade.  

🔥 Other than that, I really liked the book. It explains the problem in a didactic way, with a touch of humor, and focuses on win-win solutions. I hope many entrepreneurs read it, and bet on technologies that combat global warming. 

🔥 Recommended to: entrepreneurs, technology lovers and die-hard optimists.


#HowtoAvoidaClimateDisaster #NetGalley
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Bill Gates provides a rigorous overview of the biggest climate challenges we face, the technologies we have to fight them and the innovations we still - quite urgently - require to solve them. The book does an excellent job of jargon-busting and explaining the science it discusses, without ever sounding condescending. Gates is particularly good at putting statistics into perspective and teaching readers how to interpret data they come across in the future with confidence. In fact, far from making a reader feel helpless, his macro approach to the climate emergency helps individuals to see how their choices as consumers (and carbon producers) can have a tangible impact on global policy. Gates is also able to offer personal insights from the work of his foundation and the research he invests in, but is equally good at 'passing the mic' and - also - admitting his own shortcomings in the fight against climate disaster.
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I'm happy Bill Gates wrote this book because he does an excellent job in explaining what's happening and supply plenty of data to support his theories.
His solutions are technological and it was fascinating to discover how technology could help us to save the world and, working in high tech, it was an interesting way of looking at future.
It's informative and interesting, strongly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine
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The call to action is strong for all of us. Climate change is happening rapidly now. I was reminded through this book that the poor will suffer the most from climate change. The droughts in Ethiopia etc are all a matter of climate change. This book reminds us that we are responsible at an individual level to care for our planet and reduce our carbon footprints but also that corporates and global conglomerates must also act responsibly to ensure a future for all.
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Informed layman and technology nerd Bill Gates, the multi-billionaire and founder of Microsoft, steps out of his comfort zone in order to give climate change a prominent voice.

The author has become a part-time professional, investing in innovations since more than ten years. Given his footprint in large houses or mileage of intercontinental flights he is certainly no climate angel. But when he talks about climate change mostly from a technological perspective, he can reach a lot of people who might not have listened and understood enough.

This short book is easily understandable for every reader with a halfway technology interest. You absolutely don’t need to be a scientist or engineer to grab the presented statistics. Just don’t expect a carefully weighted ethical or political discussion, because the author is, well, a nerd.

Gates knows how to reach the audience, formulate clear visions, there’s nothing fancy or cloud-cuckoo-land about the narration: He starts with the title “51 Billion to Zero”.

There are two numbers you need to know about climate change. The first is 51 billion. The other is zero.
Fifty-one billion is how many tons of greenhouse gases the world typically adds to the atmosphere every year. […] Zero is what we need to aim for.

Not only does the author clearly state the goals, but every chapter has a summary of the most important, summarized statements. You won’t ever get lost in lengthy discussion where you don’t know the outcome. I never felt argumentatively manhandled by this rather strict structure.

The next two chapters dig into the question why it must not only be better but zero, and how this won’t be easy at all. One argument I understood better than ever before is the following: It isn’t enough to only reach for less greenhouse gas if the ultimate target zero might be lost with it. There is one good example for it: changing from oil heating to gas heating in our homes would bring down the amount of CO2. But gas heating still emits it, and who would change to a zero emitting heating system when they’ve just replaced it? That would ultimately harm the goal of zero CO2.

Chapter 3 shows the elevator pitch investor when Gates presents his “Five Questions to Ask in Every Climate Conversation”:

How Much of the 51 Billion Tons Are We Talking About?
What’s Your Plan for Cement?
How Much Power Are We Talking About?
How Much Space Do You Need?
How Much Is This Going to Cost?
That’s the sort of holistic explanation that I haven’t found elsewhere before. It doesn’t help if we just switch to electrical cars and replace old lightning bulbs with LEDs. Because we won’t be able to completely replace the infrastructure relevant building materials cement and steel. Production make up 31% of all CO2 emmittance, and a relevant part of that comes from cement and steel. Even if you could replace the needed energy for the heating process with renewable energy (which isn’t easy at all), the involved chemical processes still takes two thirds of the overall production process.

The author explains those topics in detail over the next five chapters “How We Plug In,” (27% of 51 billion tons per year) “How We Make Things,” (31%) “How We Grow Things,” (19%) “How We Get Around,” (16%) and “How We Keep Cool and Stay Warm” (7%). Those chapters are the core of the book.

The following chapters like “Adapting to a Warmer World,” “Why Government Policies Matter,” “A Plan for Getting to Zero,” and “What Each of Us Can Do” feel more like an appendix. They are worth reading, but don’t grab you like the previous chapters.

Gates sometimes adds personal experiences from his travels to third world countries to the discussion. They aren’t always effective to the given topic at hand, but make it believable why he is involved, why he really does care. It also demonstrates the layman’s point of view which is underscored by the low quality of notes and references – many of the references only present copyright notes of included photos (like “AFP via Getty Images”). There’s not too much bibliography to deep dive into any interesting topic.

The book addresses mostly readers in the U.S.A. Gates doesn’t much care for detailed discussions relevant outside of that area. When he states that one can easily save money by replacing oil heating with electrical driven heat pumps, then he is correct for the U.S, but doesn’t know the calculation in Germany where electrical energy is still too expensive due to energy transition regulation.

It’s easy to get carried away by Gates’s positivity on technological solutions. He absolutely don’t care for the devil within the details. For one, the book doesn’t provide the place for deeper discussions, e.g. with the interdependant relations between steel and cement production. Also, he already told us: “It won’t be easy.” And that is true not only for technology, but also for politics, and most importantly: The need to change your own perception and involvement. Do you still like your burgers from methane burping cows?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Informative survey of one of the most urgent issues of our time
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 March 2021
I remember reading years ago a Robert X. Cringely piece in which Robert X. stated that he had never met anyone more focussed on making a dollar than Bill Gates. And one of the useful things that this book does is emphasise the costs of climate breakdown, both in terms of the costs of the damage of climate breakdown and the costs of carbon-neutral and carbon-negative systems that have to replace the current carbon-positive ones. It's not going to be cheap and it's not going to be easy. But the alternatives to concerted action towards carbon negativity in a generation - even for someone as wealthy as Gates - are far to severe to contemplate.

An important aspect of the book is that Gates doesn't just talk about energy and transport, he also discusses the importance agriculture, construction and manufacturing as significant sources of carbon. This makes solving the problem even harder. It's not enough just to build a lot of fission power stations and electrolyse water into hydrogen. We are going to find ways of making carbon-free concrete (pretty hard when you think about how lime is made) and cut down on meat because of the amount of carbon released by farm animals. Gates emphasises that there is no silver bullet. Everything is connected to everything. Solving this is going to be incredibly hard if it is possible at all.

The book provides a fairly comprehensive survey of the main technological, economic and political issues in getting to carbon negativity. It's not a long particularly book and there are certain issues I might like to have seen covered in more detail. Gates talk about electrofuels quite a lot a term I hadn't really come across before. I recently read an interesting article on geothermal energy that suggested that the use of advanced drilling technology could basically allow power to extracted from subsurface heat anywhere on the planet, but this isn't something that Gates particularly runs with (he mentions it, but only as another factor in the energy mix), although it might be a way of getting oil companies (and engineers) on side by repurposing their technology (and, of course, excess electricity can always be used to electrolyse water). We also mentions geoengineering in passing. Hard not to imagine this appealling to Bezos and Musk when push comes to shove). But my big takeaway from the book is that fission + fusion + solar + geothermal + hydrogen probably isn't going to be enough to solve the carbon crisis. We need to remove the other carbon sources too. That's not going to be easy. It's a pretty sobering thought.

Although the book was presumably largely drafted by a ghost, Gates clearly had a lot of input into it and the importance of the issue means a great deal to him. We get an interesting anecdote about his father and a picture of Gates and his son visiting a geothermal plant in Iceland. Yes, he really is into this!

I am glad to have the chance to read the book. I just hope that it can something of the impact that Gates hopes in moving forward the climate agenda. We can't afford not to move forward.

Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for a free electronic Advanced Reading Copy.
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I just couldn’t get on with this, despite having read much on the subject. Although the focus on sole technological solutions was expected from all the publicity and well, because its Bill Gates so what else would we expect, but it feels like there should have been much more acknowledgement that technology can only be a part of the solution. There are so many other authoritative reads that cover climate change and its challenges from a much broader, comprehensive, perspective, that it feels like this was really only published because of Gates’ profile.
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Bill Gates introduction to the book perfectly describes the enormous climate catastrophe facing mankind and the rest of the life forms on the planet. His writing style makes the book very easy to read for the layman. 

He identifies a number of very practical technical solutions to reverse the vast amount of carbon being dumped into our atmosphere. Clearly, these solutions will require an enormous investment and acceptance of change by governments, corporations & the general public. At the moment there is very little appetite or incentive to participate in these critical projects. Perhaps the threat of extinction will eventually make governments react in a more positive manner, but sadly it will almost certainly be too late to be really effective. 
We have very little time left to make these innovative projects a reality. The sixth global extinction event has already commenced in all areas of our planet. It will be almost impossible to reverse.
To summarise, an excellent book that gives a strong wake-up call to those in power.
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How to Avoid a Climate Disaster has a different focus than a lot of the other books I have read on tackling climate change, instead of regurgitating similar information, Bill Gates focuses this book on technology, innovation and the national and international collaboration to develop and deliver meaningful changes to reduce our global greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. This is an ambitious undertaking for us all, however, as daunting as it seems, Gates lays out his research and solutions effectively and in a clear format. I enjoyed how this is written in a less formal way than some books on this topic, it felt more like a conversation rather than a sermon. The contents of this book are less focused what will happen if we continue as we are (we have already heard a lot about this from other sources) and instead offers practical solutions and policies which could be implemented with the technologies we already have available and identifies where the gaps are which need to be closed. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book, it is informative and offers a different insight to the problem and the difficult road ahead. It is not a textbook and Bill Gates does not claim to be an expert on the subject but instead could be like any one of us who has a keen interest in halting climate change and taking responsibility and action for our future. Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Press UK for a digital copy for review.
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There are plenty of more detailed books on the topic, but this is an easy to read overview of some of the challenges faced, the magnitude of it and some of the solutions that will help. 

The book provides an interesting take on some of the technological solutions that will come into play .

Overall think book won't radically change the thinking on climate change, but it might just make understanding the scale and some of the solutions more accessible to the lay person.
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