McKibben Reviews Gates

I am sure that the New York Times has made available, but I cannot find it, an explanation for when they link out to Amazon (e.g. on a podcast interview with an author promoting a recently published book) and when they do not (e.g. in a traditional book review). Our thanks to Bill McKibben for taking the time to review this book:

How Does Bill Gates Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis?

The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need
By Bill Gates

First things first — much respect to Bill Gates for his membership in the select club of ultrabillionaires not actively attempting to flee Earth and colonize Mars. His affection for his home planet and the people on it shines through clearly in this new book, as does his proud and usually endearing geekiness. The book’s illustrations include photos of him inspecting industrial facilities, like a fertilizer distribution plant in Tanzania; definitely the happiest picture is of him and his son grinning identical grins outside an Icelandic geothermal power station. “Rory and I used to visit power plants for fun,” he writes, “just to learn how they worked.”

And 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. As everyone can attest who watched the blazes of Australia and California, or the hurricanes with odd Greek names crashing through the gulf, we are in dire need of solutions to the greatest crisis our species has yet faced.

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. Since he confesses that he completely missed the climate challenge until 2006, when he met with some scientists almost two decades after the problem emerged (previously “I had assumed there were cyclical variations or other factors that would naturally prevent a true climate disaster”), it’s perhaps not surprising that he’s still catching up. And yet, his miscalculations are important, because they are widely shared…

Read the whole review here.


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