Dawn’s book pick about how to avoid a climate disaster

Title: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, by Bill Gates

A recommendation by Dawn Drayton


Published by: Alfred A Knopf New York Toronto 2021

If you are at all like me, the thought of megawatts and gigahertzes makes my eyes glaze over. Bill Gates, technology genius and selfless philanthropist, has written a book just for us in this critical era of climate crisis.

Gates first explains that climate change is caused by global warming. Global warming is caused by a layer of greenhouse gases, primarily from carbon, which block the heat from earth escaping into the greater atmosphere. And the human way of life has caused all the greenhouse gases that have built up in the last two hundred years as a result of industrialization.

Picture of book: How to Avoid a CLimate Disaster

I was particularly moved by the explanation of how much greenhouse gas is emitted by the things we do. Did you know that the cement, steel, and plastic industries produce 31% of the worlds greenhouse gases? Plugging in, the process of generating and using electricity, is responsible for another 27%. Our beautiful pastoral gardens and farms, plants and animals, produce 19% of the problem. The whole transportation industry including cars, planes, trucks and ships, produces only 16% of emissions worldwide. Heating, cooling, and refrigeration causes 7% of emissions of which one third of that comes from furnaces and water heaters for the world’s buildings.

Humanitarian Gates points out that, “Rich and middle income people are causing the vast majority of climate change. The poorest people are doing less than anyone else to cause the problem but they stand to suffer the most from it.” He recommends the need for all parties to work together, all nations, rich and poor, all politicians, municipal, provincial or state, and federal, and all industries to work collectively to get greenhouse gases from 51 billion tons a year to zero by 2050. This ambitious goal may be attainable if policy and market structures are in place by 2030.

One strategy Gates recommends is adaptation. We must climate proof our buildings and other infrastructure. We must protect our wetlands which are a bulwark against flooding and we may have to relocate buildings permanently to protect them against climate change.
Another area that needs attention is preparing and responding to emergencies. This involves improving weather forecasts, improving early warning systems for storms, and training evacuation teams well. After a climate disaster, recovery services need to be in place. Gates reiterates the need to rebuild with climate proof structures. Although Gates recommends global cooperation on all levels to overcome climate change, he recognizes that the individual can be a powerful aide in speeding things along.

All of us can make calls, write letters, attend town halls and even run for public office. As consumers we can install smart thermostats to reduce energy consumption when we are not home. We can send a message to the marketplace that we want more products with zero carbon alternatives. The more electric cars we buy, the more we drive down the price. We can replace all our electric light bulbs with LED bulbs to reduce our consumption of electrical energy.

Gates has invested heavily in businesses that are developing carbon-free products and one of those is called “Beyond Meat”. Let’s all see how this tastes on the barbecue on the bay this summer!!

Families For Change Program

If you and your family are concerned about climate change and plastic pollution but don’t really know where to start doing something about it, GBF has a program for you. It’s called Families For Change (F4C).GBF has identified different things cottagers and area residents can do to help combat climate change and protect Georgian Bay. To get started on a task list, click here . If you want to print it, here is a black and white version black and white version

A little bit about the reviewer

Dawn Drayton, pictured below at the cottage with her husband, has been an incredible volunteer for Georgian Bay Forever for years - including being an active member of the fundraising and education committees. We thank her so much for her passion. At GBF, we are always hoping to connect with passionate people. It can even start with a book and author recommendation. If you want to submit one, please contact the education committee for consideration. We are looking for books that tell stories and or provide information that will help to illuminate and engage our fellow Georgian Bayers on protecting the water. Email us with the subject line Book Club Reco at info@gbf.org.