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How to avoid a climate disaster by Bill Gates : a book review

Exploring ways to mitigate damage

“the earth is warming, it's warming because of human activity, and the impact is bad and will get much worse. We have every reason to believe that at some point that impact will be catastrophic.”

Climate change is here. It is happening as we breathe. It is as real as the natural disasters. It is not propaganda or a hoax as misquoted by many political leaders. Almost every year is the hottest year ever and every year there are disasters which are very much man made. This is what living on the edge feels like. Corona has exposed the facade of our development based economies. Like Bill gates “predicted” years before in his Ted Talk how we aren’t ready for a pandemic. And yes, we truly weren’t. Fear and death were dangling in front of our faces and all we could do was to hide in our abodes and wait for scientists to develop a vaccine.

If you follow Bill Gates, you would obviously know how passionate he is about Climate and Energy. From his Gates Foundation, Gates Notes blog to his new book, he is very vocal about how humans impact climate and what can be done to improve situations around the world. The man who gave us Microsoft realizes his importance as a world leader and has jumped in to find solutions related to climate disaster. He takes us on a journey of self realization where he delves into climate science with the experts and finds the inequalities that humans face around the globe. He talks about electricity, being one of our basic resources but still a dream for many.

He quoted,

“I learned that about a billion people didn’t have reliable access to electricity and that half of them lived in sub Saharan Africa…. And how it is hard to stay healthy if your local medical clinic can’t keep vaccines cold because the refrigerators don’t work.”

When I was travelling in the villages of Jharkhand, I found how normal it is to spend hours without power in stifling hot weather which isn’t something I am accustomed to in my city lifestyle. The vast demographic difference leads to economic, educational disparities to a point that it becomes a generational vicious cycle of suffering.

A major theme of this book is the balance that Bill Gates tries to address. Our economies work on industries. Industries bring prosperity and humongous amount of pollution too. Iron and Steel industries are the driving force of economies but also the biggest emitters of Greenhouse gases. There’s a common notion that reduction of emission or alternative resources are the only ways to handle this. There has been a 5% reduction in emissions in times of Corona lockdown but it came at the cost of millions of deaths, job loss and shattering economies. Reduction therefore cannot be the only method. The other option is to search for cleaner sources like solar, wind or nuclear power. Electricity is just one tiny portion of GHGs contributions and there are automobile industry, big animal farms for meat products, deforestation, oil and gas industry. All of these are agents environmental disasters. He states that taking GHGs to zero is almost impossible but we should aim to go back to the pre industrial levels of emission.

He as a technophile holds the view that he can only suggest ways and change cannot happen till we make these technologies scalable and available to the poorest of the poor. Everyone deserves a clean environment and it should be the responsibility of richer nations to help the poorer ones. AND. Technologically, climate disaster control is possible but that requires investments and it only happens with government intervention. The strings of climate change or any other change for that matter are controlled by politics and there’s one thing about politics, it fluctuates. Without political intervention of state leaders, nothing much can be achieved. He emphasizes that to instill confidence in the stakeholders and the masses, the governments need to come forward.

Bill gates comes out as an optimist in this book. He shows us a utopian world that seems impossible for now. But it’s good to believe in utopias. It is good to live with a thought that one day all of this will make sense. With every little effort we will move a little closer to our goal of a sustainable world. Earth belongs to all of us and therefore it is our shared responsibility to take care of it.


In this urgent, authoritative book, Bill Gates sets out a wide-ranging, practical - and accessible - plan for how the world can get to zero greenhouse gas emissions in time to avoid a climate catastrophe.

Bill Gates has spent a decade investigating the causes and effects of climate change. With the help of experts in the fields of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, political science, and finance, he has focused on what must be done in order to stop the planet's slide toward certain environmental disaster. In this book, he not only explains why we need to work toward net-zero emissions of greenhouse gases, but also details what we need to do to achieve this profoundly important goal.

He gives us a clear-eyed description of the challenges we face. Drawing on his understanding of innovation and what it takes to get new ideas into the market, he describes the areas in which technology is already helping to reduce emissions, where and how the current technology can be made to function more effectively, where breakthrough technologies are needed, and who is working on these essential innovations. Finally, he lays out a concrete, practical plan for achieving the goal of zero emissions-suggesting not only policies that governments should adopt, but what we as individuals can do to keep our government, our employers, and ourselves accountable in this crucial enterprise.

As Bill Gates makes clear, achieving zero emissions will not be simple or easy to do, but if we follow the plan he sets out here, it is a goal firmly within our reach.

How to avoid a climate change by Bill Gates is published by Allen Lane and to get your copy buy here.


Bill Gates is a technologist, business leader, and philanthropist. In 1975, he cofounded Microsoft with his childhood friend Paul Allen; today he and his wife, Melinda, are co-chairs of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He also launched Breakthrough Energy, an effort to commercialize clean energy and other climate-related technologies. He and Melinda have three children and live in Medina, Washington.

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