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Fri Feb 19, 2021, 11:24 AM

How to Avoid a Climate Disaster -- a Book Preview From Gates Himself

We need to read all the information on Climate that we can.
I've ordered this and hope to learn what to do and how I can contribute.
If Gates preserves corporate existence, I don't care, as long as this works.


Within a few years, I had become convinced of three things:

To avoid a climate disaster, we have to get to zero greenhouse gas emissions.
We need to deploy the tools we already have, like solar and wind, faster and smarter.
And we need to create and roll out breakthrough technologies that can take us the rest of the way.
The case for zero was, and is, rock solid. Setting a goal to only reduce our emissionsóbut not eliminate themówonít do it. The only sensible goal is zero.

This book suggests a way forward, a series of steps we can take to give ourselves the best chance to avoid a climate disaster. It breaks down into five parts:

Why zero? In chapter 1, Iíll explain more about why we need to get to zero, including what we know (and what we donít) about how rising temperatures will affect people around the world.

The bad news: Getting to zero will be really hard. Because every plan to achieve anything starts with a realistic assessment of the barriers that stand in your way, in chapter 2 weíll take a moment to consider the challenges weíre up against.

How to have an informed conversation about climate change. In chapter 3, Iíll cut through some of the confusing statistics you might have heard and share the handful of questions I keep in mind in every conversation I have about climate change. They have kept me from going wrong more times than I can count, and I hope they will do the same for you.

The good news: We can do it. In chapters 4 through 9, Iíll break down the areas where todayís technology can help and where we need breakthroughs. This will be the longest part of the book, because thereís so much to cover. We have some solutions we need to deploy in a big way now, and we also need a lot of innovations to be developed and spread around the world in the next few decades.

Steps we can take now. I wrote this book because I see not just the problem of climate change; I also see an opportunity to solve it. Thatís not pie-in-the-sky optimism. We already have two of the three things you need to accomplish any major undertaking. First, we have ambition, thanks to the passion of a growing global move≠ment led by young people who are deeply concerned about climate change. Second, we have big goals for solving the problem as more national and local leaders around the world commit to doing their part.

Now we need the third component: a concrete plan to achieve our goals.

Just as our ambitions have been driven by an appreciation for climate science, any practical plan for reducing emissions has to be driven by other disciplines: physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, political science, economics, finance, and more. So in the final chap≠ters of this book, Iíll propose a plan based on guidance Iíve gotten from experts in all these disciplines. In chapters 10 and 11, Iíll focus on policies that governments can adopt; in chapter 12, Iíll suggest steps that each of us can take to help the world get to zero. Whether youíre a government leader, an entrepreneur, or a voter with a busy life and too little free time (or all of the above), there are things you can do to help avoid a climate disaster.

Thatís it. Letís get started.

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Response to ancianita (Original post)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 12:19 PM

1. We need superhero-level global leadership on this. I hope we're all nimble enough to fight through

the barriers, including competing financial interests and inertia. Hopefully Kerryís going to light a fire under it, so to speak.

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Response to JudyM (Reply #1)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 12:39 PM

2. Thanks for your post. I tend to think that global leadership has its own inertia brought on

by global privatizers whose goal of wealth conservatism drive its own interests in the halls of governments -- whether in the mafia form of oligarchies or in lobbyist forms in struggling democracies.

Meanwhile, I assume that there are good billionaires and bad ones, and hope that the good billionaires, Gates being one, imo, win out.

Another threat by global corporations is their move within the US to hold a constitutional convention. Could the good billionaires control a constitutional convention that has, so far, been approved by 34 states? I doubt it.

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Response to ancianita (Original post)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 01:06 PM

3. ...

Bill Gates is part of the problem. I can explain why I think so if you're interested. (That tweet might lead you to some pertinent info as well.)

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Response to PETRUS (Reply #3)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 01:11 PM

4. Sure, as long as you don't use tweets of others as your explanation, and you actually explain.

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Response to ancianita (Reply #4)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 01:27 PM

5. Thanks.

The short version is that Gates is staunchly pro economic growth, and "green" growth is not a thing. Even if we solved the energy problem (i.e., we can produce the necessary energy for the rate of growth Gates and others are targeting with zero greenhouse gas emissions), there are several other ecological limits/potential tipping points, and too much more growth will overshoot those significantly.

I'm happy to discuss this further if you're interested.

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Response to PETRUS (Reply #5)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 01:32 PM

6. Happy to read it.

1. One article against green growth does not prove that green growth is not a thing. Neither I nor Gates would agree that they are the last word on what constitutes "a thing." More likely "green growth" is an aspirational term for clean energy use that can save the planet when fossil fuel growth absolutely will not.

2. You have to show sites that accurately describe, rather than surmise or speculate on, the "other ecological limits/potential tipping points.

3. You have to prove what "too much more growth" actually is that will overshoot #2.

Then prove that Gates knows these things and promotes his plan anyway.

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Response to ancianita (Reply #6)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 02:24 PM

7. Thanks again.

First, I don't know that the idea of green growth can be proven (or disproved) in a scientific sense. It's a question of what the preponderance of evidence that we currently have indicates. So far, there is zero evidence that economic growth can be sufficiently detached from material throughput. Perhaps that will change, but the consequences of pursuing economic growth HOPING that things turn out otherwise would be catastrophic.

Based on my reading (from multiple sources), there seems to be a rough consensus on what the various categories of planetary boundaries are, although there is not a consensus on what the limits are for a few of them. I've seen different terms assigned to the categories, but they're usually described something like this: climate change, land use, freshwater use, ocean acidification, biodiversity loss, nitrogen & phosphorous loading, ozone depletion, chemical and air pollution. There are a lot of articles, papers and books out there about this; here's one: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/1259855

My thoughts about your #3 point are similar to my thoughts about your #1. Scientific "proof" for a question as complex as this is a pretty high bar. What we can do is observe our current trajectory with respect to planetary boundaries and note the correlation to growth in global GDP. The consequences of erring in one direction are pretty severe, and the consequences of erring in the other direction aren't.

Finally, I don't think it matters in the least what Bill Gates knows or doesn't know, or what he believes. No doubt Hitler thought he was doing the right thing...

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Response to PETRUS (Reply #7)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 02:50 PM

8. The credbility of your explanation is fine until the last sentence. Really?

You had to draw a Hitler analogy to Gates. Seriously?

Has it occurred to you that Gates has access to more data than we do? But not to make money from data, but to use that data for good causes.

I think his work worldwide to end diseases gives him "good billionaire" cred.

In 2009, Gates and Warren Buffett founded The Giving Pledge, whereby they and other billionaires pledge to give at least half of their wealth to philanthropy. He runs the world's largest charity.


And he's "paid more tax than any individual ever, and gladly so ... I've paid over $6 billion in taxes." He is a proponent of higher taxes, particularly for the rich."


There are billionaires who are only wealthy through finance, and those who actually make stuff. He's the latter. He goes beyond the guilt-assuaging philanthropists of the former group to actually do amazing good for humans world wide.

I gotta say, your Hitler connection is silly at best, mean at worst.

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Response to ancianita (Reply #8)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 03:14 PM

9. I'm not comparing Hitler to Gates - sorry if it read that way.

It was my attempt to illustrate concisely and emphatically why I think the question isn't relevant. There are probably better ways to do it, but my rhetorical skills only go so far (which is to say, not very).

I do not give Bill Gates very much credit for his "philanthropy." There's a book-length explanation available: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/539747/winners-take-all-by-anand-giridharadas/

It's not about Gates specifically (although if I recall correctly, he is mentioned), but it's a decent explanation of why the "good billionaire" thing is almost always bunk.

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Response to PETRUS (Reply #9)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 05:48 PM

10. Not that big a deal, really.

I hear you. In the end I'm not one bit invested in disproving your argument, because it's good to look up and think about what you're arguing. Giridharadas' book is on my shelf, and I've pushed it for a couple of years now.

And, being a marxist at heart, I'm not really a big defender of "good billionaires," relative to the structural poverty that they probably know their generosity maintains. I'd like to believe that they'll know that no amount of money can buy their descendants a future, given the biospheric destruction we're just beginning to notice, nevermind act on.

Thank you for your thoughts, which I'm looking into, since I'm a firm believer that it's better to err on the side of overachieving when it comes to climate mitigation, than to be gradualist or exploratory. I say throw everything that works at it rather than second guess what will or won't work.

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Response to ancianita (Reply #10)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 06:59 PM

11. That's very gracious of you.

I do reflect on things that people say when challenging me - and sometimes my opinion changes as a result - but it takes me some time. When I'm right in the middle of a discussion, I can be pretty stubborn.

If you're a marxist at heart, we probably share any number of opinions.

It pleases me to hear people have read "Winners Take All." Pushing it is even better! Since you're a reader, may I suggest two books related to our discussion that made an impression on me? "Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World" (by Jason Hickel) and "Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist" (by Kate Raworth).

Thanks for the conversation!

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Response to PETRUS (Reply #11)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 07:12 PM

12. Aww, thanks for your kind words.

I'm definitely going to try those titles you recommend. Have you read Kim Stanley Robinson's The Ministry For the Future? Though fiction, it's a grim look at how climate crises can affect humans, and how humans can overcome their old mental habits, and how money and economies won't matter as much as stabilizing Earth dynamics.

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Response to ancianita (Reply #12)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 08:59 PM

13. Just recently!

Maybe four or five books ago? I like your summation. My impression is that a lot of research goes into Robinson's speculative fiction. Coincidentally, I read Ministry for the Future right after reading one of the books I suggested - Less is More - and found myself wondering if those two authors are in touch, or at least if Robinson reads Hickel or if they consult a lot of the same source material.

Any other books you'd recommend? They don't have to do anything with what we've been talking about, I'm just always looking for suggestions.

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Response to PETRUS (Reply #13)

Fri Mar 5, 2021, 09:55 PM

14. Great! I'd been feeling so hopeless about human inertia that I wept to read the ending.

Okay. You asked for it. I have fairly wide ranging non-fiction interests.

These are all my favorites of the last year or so (besides James Rollins' Sigma Force series, which includes amazing fiction about pandemics, cyberwar and AI; I must have learned at least six big things from each of these novels).

Captured by Sheldon Whitehouse
Moneyland by Olover Bullough
The Outlaw Ocean by Ian Urbina

El Norte by Carrie Gibson
An Indigenous People's History of the United States by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

Who Owns the Future? by Jaron Lanier
Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall
The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konikova

The Modern Detective by Tyler Maroney
White Trash - The 400-year Untold History of Class in America by Nancy Isenberg
Stamped From the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi
How to Be an Antiracist by Kendi
Whistleblowers by Allison Stanger
The Island at the Center of the World by Russell Shorto

Just to name a few. Oh, and anything by Timothy Snyder is an education about Russia.

(weird how the italics button extends beyond where I highlight... oh well...)

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Response to ancianita (Reply #14)

Sat Mar 6, 2021, 01:20 PM

15. That's a fantastic list - much obliged!

Three of them are on my shelves already - both of the Kendi titles, and White Trash - although I haven't gotten around to reading them yet. I don't own the Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz book, but I've been interested in that and the others from the ReVisioning history series. I will look into the rest. Thanks so much!

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Response to PETRUS (Reply #15)

Sat Mar 6, 2021, 02:56 PM

18. A pleasure.

I found White Trash to be an historical eye opener, and would recommend you read it before the Kendi books so that you can see how our European racist inheritance played out when you get to Kendi.

Just ordered Less is More. Thank you! I don't know how I'd missed that one, and am sure it will offer lots of info and insights.

As for the rest, I found each of them fascinating (and I truly mean each) for opening up different worlds -- especially the high art and human philosophy of poker, corporate detection (including sites that give you database info, and describes nothing that matches old detective stereotypes, and worldwide crime on the oceans.

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Response to ancianita (Original post)

Sat Mar 6, 2021, 01:57 PM

16. Only a very small part of what needs to be done will be done.

I think we are close to the tipping point and car companies that say in 9-10 years all their cars will be electric will not be soon enough. I don't know anything about our electric grid. Is it strong enough to handle the load if all cars are electric?

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Response to marie999 (Reply #16)

Sat Mar 6, 2021, 02:43 PM

17. I hear you and agree. Too many think we can be gradualist about climate; I'm the opposite of that.

If the infrastructure bill passes, the grid should handle the electric cars. Part of the green new deal can be in the infrastructure bill, one would think. That's, as you say, down the road.

Since we just passed the covid relief bill, there's hope for the infrastructure bill, yes?

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