In a brand new weblog publish, Gates recommends one other Smil book as a result of he says it’s extra accessible. Known as Numbers Don’t Lie: 71 Things You Need to Know About the World, it’s much less like an engineering textbook and only a assortment of thought-provoking info offered in one or two-page chapters. Smil seems at questions like whether or not your automotive or your telephone is worse for the atmosphere, how people developed large brains (he credit our distinctive means to sweat, which allowed early people to hunt longer and eat extra protein), and the way a lot the world’s cows collectively weigh (reply: greater than every other animal on the planet).
Smil additionally takes a clear-eyed have a look at how difficult will probably be to drag the world away from fossil fuels rapidly sufficient to deal with local weather change. It could be extremely troublesome, he says, to restrict international warming to 1.5 levels Celsius, the most formidable objective in the Paris local weather settlement. “That is not not possible—however it is impossible,” he writes. “Reaching that objective would require nothing in need of a basic transformation of the international financial system on scales and at a velocity unprecedented in human historical past, a process that might be not possible to do with out main financial and social dislocations.”
Gates is very conscious of the monumental problem of creating the needed local weather transition. (Right here’s an excerpt from his personal latest book, How To Keep away from A Local weather Catastrophe.) However he’s additionally an optimist, a believer in the energy of latest know-how to unravel issues, and a giant investor in local weather tech, so he says Smil’s method of questioning all the things helps him keep grounded. “As somebody who tends to be optimistic about know-how—possibly even too optimistic at occasions—I respect how his pure skepticism about future innovation retains my outlook practical,” Gates writes.