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From the first pages of Bill Gates’s third and most impassioned book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need , one gets the feeling of being on an expedition.
That odyssey is Gates’s own—a journey of discovery that seems to enthrall the author even as it becomes clear how monumentally hard it will be to reach the destination.
That promised land—Gates’s Ithaca, if you will—is a place called “zero.” Zero is the amount of greenhouse gases that we can afford to let out into the atmosphere if we are to have any hope of preventing a climate meltdown by century’s end, he says.
These gases—notably, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane (which climate scientists often shorthand to “carbon dioxide equivalents” or simply, “carbon”)—trap heat and cause surface temperatures to rise. The more such gases there are floating around, the warmer it gets. As Gates writes:
“There’s no scenario in which we keep adding carbon to the atmosphere and the world stops getting hotter, and the hotter it gets, the harder it will be for humans to survive, much less thrive.”
Such is the harsh cost of not getting to zero, of course. But […]