... a compelling explanation of how the world can stop global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions effectively to zero ... Gates has occasionally appeared equivocal about climate and energy policies that he thought could undermine the fight against poverty and illness. However, this book lays out forcefully his understanding that the impact of climate change poses a far bigger threat to lives and livelihoods in developing countries...The book breaks down the sources of these emissions into a few broad categories – making things, plugging in, and getting around – and Gates knows how to frame issues in terms with which everybody should be able to engage, without dumbing down the material ... I think readers will discover from his book that he is a serious and genuine force for good on climate change.
This new volume could not be more timely — it emerges after a year that saw the costliest slew of weather disasters in history, and that despite a cooling La Niña current in the Pacific managed to set the mark for record global temperature ... It is a disappointment, then, to report that this book turns out to be a little underwhelming. Gates — who must have easy access to the greatest experts the world can provide — is surprisingly behind the curve on the geeky parts, and he’s worse at interpreting the deeper and more critical aspects of the global warming dilemma ... it’s perhaps not surprising that he’s still catching up. And yet, his miscalculations are important, because they are widely shared ... One wishes Gates had talked, for instance, with Stanford’s Mark Jacobson, whose team has calculated how almost every country on earth could go to 80 percent renewable energy by 2030. If he had, he might have understood more clearly that the things that really interest him — advanced nuclear power, for instance, where he describes his considerable investments — are more about mopping up: He’s absolutely right that we should be investing in research across a wide list of technologies because we may need them down the line to help scrub the last increments of fossil fuel from the system, but the key work will be done (or not) over the next decade, and it will be done by sun and wind ... it’s wonderful that Gates has decided to work hard on climate questions, but to be truly helpful he needs to resolve to be a better geek — he needs to really get down on his hands and knees and examine how that power works in all its messiness. Politics very much included.
... this is a surprisingly good read. The author’s enthusiasm and curiosity about the way things work is infectious. He walks us through not just the basic science of global warming, but all the ways that our modern lives contribute to it. He offers a primer on farming; transportation; food waste; and concrete, steel, and plastic manufacturing, to name some of the author’s encyclopedic range of concerns ... Gates never questions the assumption that we need to continue to grow the economy and even substantially increase energy use, especially in the developing world. Some will see this as the book’s blind spot. It takes for granted that the environment can be saved without a change in lifestyle and material aspirations, especially in the developed world. ... Climate change, as the author convincingly argues, is the biggest challenge we’ve ever faced.