A new Book by billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates, "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need," went on sale this month. It has not been greeted with universal enthusiasm.

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown is a fan

Writing in The Guardian, former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown praised Gates's proposals for reducing the impact of climate change. "Taken together, these measures could meet the world's objective of net carbon zero," Brown said. He suggested that the current British government put Gates's proposals on the agenda of this year's United Nations Climate Change Conference (Cop26).

That meeting is to be held in Glasgow on November 1-12. Details can be found at ukcop26.org.

Brown quoted Gates as saying that unless 51 billion tons of greenhouse gases were annually removed from the atmosphere, climate change would kill more people than COVID-19. "Gates is right about the scale and the urgency of the problem," Brown said, noting that Gates wanted "an immediate quintupling of climate-related research and development."

'A little underwhelming'

Gates's book was reviewed for The New York Times by Bill McKibben of the climate campaign organization 350.org.

Although McKibben had kind words for Gates's intentions, he said the book was "a little underwhelming." McKibben said Gates was "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."

McKibben said Gates was wrong to worry about the efficiency of solar panels.

McKibben said it was already less expensive to construct new solar and wind power facilities than to maintain existing power plants fueled by coal. He said "politics" and, in particular, "the fossil fuel industry" were to blame for alternative sources of energy not advancing faster. McKibben said Microsoft, the company founded by Gates, had "donated money to exactly the politicians who are in the pocket of big oil." McKibben also complained that Gates had given hardly any attention in his book to climate campaigners' ongoing activities.

'A veritable super emitter'

Without giving much attention to the book's content, Tim Schwab, a freelance journalist writing for The Nation, a weekly magazine, accused Gates of being a self-serving hypocrite. "Bill Gates’s extensive travel by private jet likely makes him one of the world’s top carbon contributors - a veritable super emitter," Schwab said, citing a study of carbon emissions from private jet travel. "He’s also not going to get rid of his private jet - a Bombardier BD-700 Global Express that consumes 486 gallons of fuel each hour," Schwab said.

He also noted that Gates had seen his personal wealth increase by $20 million during the coronavirus pandemic, and he had "become the largest farmland owner in the United States."