SCIENCES

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

Knopf. Feb. 2021. 272p. ISBN 9780385546133. $28.95. NAT HIST
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In this latest work, Gates (The Road Ahead) makes detailed arguments for what it will take to bring our net carbon dioxide emissions to zero, a necessary prerequisite for preventing a human-made climate disaster in the near future. He brings his perspective as a philanthropist (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), investor (Breakthrough Energy), and technologist to the problem of averting the social, economic, and health effects of global warming. Using a framework of the “green premium,” or how much more we would pay to achieve the same results in a carbon-neutral way, he examines the main sectors that generate carbon emissions and which technologies will bring down the cost of green solutions. In manufacturing, agriculture, transportation, heating and cooling, and especially electricity generation there will need to be major technological advances realized in order to make green options efficient and affordable. He ends with chapters on what policies governments can implement to incentivize these technologies, and how citizens can be most effective in making change.
VERDICT Gates attempts to chart a realistic path toward a carbon-neutral future, but remains a techno-optimist at heart. Readers looking for hope in technological and market-based solutions to climate change will appreciate this straightforward analysis.

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