Tag Archives: Climate

Bill Gates, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster – Here are my Five Lessons and Takeaways

HowToAvoidAClimateDisaster_Banner_1800x1200px (002)• There are two numbers you need to know about climate change. The first is 51 billion. The other is zero.
• Fifty-one billion is how many tons of greenhouse gases the world typically adds to the atmosphere every year. Zero is what we need to aim for.  
• This sounds difficult, because it will be. The world has never done anything quite this big. • Every country will need to change its ways.
But we can’t solve a problem like climate change without an honest accounting of how much we need to do and what obstacles we need to overcome.  
• To sum up: We need to accomplish something gigantic we have never done before, much faster than we have ever done anything similar. To do it, we need lots of breakthroughs in science and engineering. We need to build a consensus that doesn’t exist and create public policies to push a transition that would not happen otherwise.
Bill Gates, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster


It’s a subtle, but very real shift.

In Bill Gates’ book How to Avoid a Climate Disaaster, Mr. Gates spends no time making the case that climate change is real.  He just accepts that it is; and now our job is to avoid the catastrophic consequences of doing…not enough.

In other words, he treats the “debate” on whether or not climate change is real as over, and now he says “what shall we do about it?”.  He writes: The earth is warming, it’s warming because of human activity, and the impact is bad and will get much worse. We have every reason to believe that at some point the impact will be catastrophic. …Despite the scientific uncertainties that remain, we understand enough to know that what’s coming will be bad.

I presented my synopsis of this book last Friday at the April, 2021 First Friday Book Synopsis (which was the beginning of our 24th year of monthly gatherings, by the way).

The recently-published book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need, has already received much discussion, and was #1 on the March, 2021 New York Times list of best-selling business books.

As always, in my synopses, I ask “what is the point?” of this book.  Here is my answer for this book:  Because of climate change, the climate, and thus the planet, is headed toward disaster; creating disaster for many, many people.  We can still act.  Here’s how. 

And I ask “Why is this book worth our time?” Here are my three answers for this book:

#1 – This book is a comprehensive, yet readable, treatment of the climate challenges.
#2 – This book provides a hopeful strategy for action. Not easy; not quick; but hopeful.
#3 – This book will remind you that this is a world-wide challenge; a true international set of issues.  We need to look at this very broad view with an open mind.

I always include a number of highlighted passages from the books I present.  Here are the best of the highlighted passages I included in this synopsis:

• Everything I’ve learned about climate and technology makes me optimistic that we can invent them, deploy them, and, if we act fast enough, avoid a climate catastrophe.   
• Eventually it sank in. The world needs to provide more energy so the poorest can thrive, but we need to provide that energy without releasing any more greenhouse gases.  It wasn’t enough to deliver cheap, reliable energy for the poor. It also had to be clean.
• We need new tools for fighting climate change: zero-carbon ways to produce electricity, make things, grow food, keep our buildings cool and warm, and move people and goods around the world. And we need new seeds and other innovations to help the world’s poorest people—many of whom are smallholder farmers—adapt to a warmer climate. pg. 13 
• I know innovation isn’t the only thing we need. But we cannot keep the earth livable without it. …Techno-fixes are not sufficient, but they are necessary.
• The bad news: Getting to zero will be really hard. 
The good news: We can do it.  
• 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.  
• In climate terms, a change of just a few degrees is a big deal. During the last ice age, the average temperature was just 6 degrees Celsius lower than it is today. During the age of the dinosaurs, when the average temperature was perhaps 4 degrees Celsius higher than today, there were crocodiles living above the Arctic Circle.  
• To have any hope of staving off disaster, the world’s biggest emitters—the richest countries—have to get to net-zero emissions by 2050. I’ve heard people object to the idea that rich countries should go first: It’s not simply because we’ve caused most of the problem. It’s also because this is a huge economic opportunity: The countries that build great zero-carbon companies and industries will be the ones that lead the global economy in the coming decades. 
• By 2060, the world’s building stock—a measure that factors in the number of buildings and their size—will double. That’s like putting up another New York City every month for 40 years, and it’s mainly because of growth in developing countries like China, India, and Nigeria.  
• We’re using more natural gas and less coal to generate electricity. Why? Because new drilling techniques made it much cheaper. It was a matter of economics, not the environment. 
• We have a large and understandable incentive to stick with what we know, even if what we know is killing us.    
• People cut down trees not because people are evil; they do it when the incentives to cut down trees are stronger than the incentives to leave them alone.

In the book, he teaches us much.  For example, what creates the most greenhouse emissions?  Here are the percentages:

  • Making things (cement, steel, plastic) — 31% of all greenhouse emissions
  • Plugging in (electricity) — 27% of all greenhouse emissions
  • Growing things (plants, animals) — 19% of all greenhouse emissions
  • Getting around (planes, trucks, cargo ships) — 16% of all greenhouse emissions
  • Keeping warm and cool (heating, cooling, refrigeration) — 7% of all greenhouse emissions

He really does argue that we have to get to zero emissions.  He tells what I call the parable of the bathtub…  The climate is like a bathtub that’s slowly filling up with water. Even if we slow the flow of water to a trickle, the tub will eventually fill up and water will come spilling out onto the floor. That’s the disaster we have to prevent. …To avoid a climate disaster, we have to get to zero. We need to deploy the tools we already have, like solar and wind, faster and smarter. And we need to create and roll out breakthrough technologies that can take us the rest of the way. The case for zero was, and is, rock solid.

Here are a few of his other key points:

  • Five Questions to ask in every climate conversation:

            #1 — How Much of the 51 Billion Tons Are We Talking About?

  • Tip: Whenever you see some number of tons of greenhouse gases, convert it to a percentage of 51 billion, which is the world’s current yearly total emissions (in carbon dioxide equivalents).

            #2 — What’s Your Plan for Cement?

            #3 — How Much Power Are We Talking About?

  • Tip: Whenever you hear “kilowatt,” think “house.” “Gigawatt,” think “city.” A hundred or more gigawatts, think “big country.”

            #4 — How Much Space Do You Need?

  • Tip: If someone tells you that some source (wind, solar, nuclear, whatever) can supply all the energy the world needs, find out how much space will be required to produce that much energy.

            #5 — How Much Is This Going to Cost?

  • Here’s a summary of all five tips: Convert tons of emissions to a percentage of 51 billion. Remember that we need to find solutions for all five activities that emissions come from: making things, plugging in, growing things, getting around, and keeping cool and warm. Kilowatt = house. Gigawatt = mid-size city. Hundreds of gigawatts = big, rich country. Consider how much space you’re going to need. Keep the Green Premiums in mind and ask whether they’re low enough for middle-income countries to pay.
  • Pay attention to the green premium
  • this is the difference between what we pay now vs. what we would pay with green technology. (think cost per mile for gas-driven car vs. electric powered car). The difference is the green premium. (R.M.; Let me tell you about my wife’s preferred coffee. $8.00 at Kroger; $16.00 for the fair-trade coffee from our coffee expert.The “coffee premium” is $8.00).
  • Where do we need to focus our research and development spending, our early investors, and our best inventors? Answer: wherever we decide Green Premiums are too high.
  • Local governments are going to have to play a big role…
  • Local governments play an important role in determining how buildings are constructed and what kinds of energy they use, whether buses and police cars run on electricity, whether there’s a charging infrastructure for electric vehicles, and how waste gets managed. 
  • And national governments also. In short, every national government needs to do three things.
  • First, make it a goal to get to zero—by 2050 for rich countries, and as soon after 2050 as possible for middle-income countries.
  • Second, develop specific plans for meeting those goals. To get to zero by 2050, we’ll need to have the policy and market structures in place by 2030.
  • And third, any country that’s in a position to fund research needs to make sure it’s on track to make clean energy so cheap—to reduce the Green Premiums so much—that middle-income countries will be able to get to zero.
  • When it comes to scaling up new technologies, the federal government plays the largest role of anyone.

And here are my five lessons and takeaways:

#1 – We have talked about this for too long, without truly acting.  It is time to act (before it is truly too late).
#2 – Personal behavioral change will not be enough. We need national and international behavioral change, and new BIG innovation efforts.
#3 – Conservation efforts and some cleaning up will not be enough,.  We need true technological breakthroughs.
#4 – For true progress to be made, it is going to take everybody working on it together; individuals; corporations; every level and lever of government (local; state; national; international agencies; and governments in every country).
#5 – This is not a nice thing to think about. This is, literally, life and death for many, many people; and for our very planet’s future.

What Bill Gates says in this book is that we have to quit putting greenhouse emissions into our atmosphere as much as we possibly can; and then we have to remove the emissions we can’t fully stop from adding to the atmosphere.

It is a big job.  But he believes that we have capability to pull this off.

Let’s hope he is right.


My synopsis of this book will soon be available for purchase.  All of my synopses come with my comprehensive, multi-page handouts, and the audio recording of my presentation.
Click on the “buy synopses” tab at the top of this page to search by book title. And click here for our newest additions.

Download the two Synopses Handouts for April’s First Friday Book Synopsis, April 2, 2021 – How to Avoid a Climate Crisis, Bill Gates; and 2030 by Marco Guillén

Note: tomorrow’s gathering, we begin Year #24 of our monthly gatherings.

April, 2021 FFBS slide








You are invited
First Friday Book Synopsis
Friday, April 2, 2021, 7:30 am (Central Time), 
on Zoom
I hope you can join us!

Karl Krayer will share some special memories; and Randy Mayeux will present synopses of important and informative books.


Click on image to download both synopsis handouts

Click on image to download both synopsis handouts

Two good books: April 2, 2021 – on Zoom

1. 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything by Mauro F. Guillén.
2. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates. Knopf. 2021.

Randy Mayeux will present both synopses.


Well over 100 people have been joining us on our “Remote” First Friday Book Synopsis gatherings. We have had participants from all over the country. Please share this word far and wide — all are welcome!

This Friday, April 2, 2021 – Zoom
Two Book Synopses:
April 2, 2021 – Zoom
1. 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything by Mauro F. Guillén.
2. How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates. Knopf. 2021.
Where: on ZOOM
When: This Friday, April 2, 7:30 am (Central Time)
The presentation will conclude shortly after 8:30 am
Speaker: Randy Mayeux will deliver both synopsis presentations.

Click here to join in on Zoom:

Meeting ID: 864 5542 4962
Passcode: 263538


We are all set for Friday’s Remote First Friday Book Synopsis.

#1 — Download, and print both synopses handouts by clicking here.

If you have ever attended our event, you know that I am handout intensive. You really will be able to follow along better with physical copies of the handouts in front of you. So, if you have a printer, please print the handouts.

#2 — Come on in for conversation whenever you can. I have enabled the “enable join before host” button. You will arrive in the waiting room, and be let in quickly. So, you can come in, and talk to folks. I will plan to join the meeting around 7:00, and we will begin the program right at 7:30. And, I will not “end the meeting” for a while after, if you want to continue conversations with others after we officially conclude.

#3 — Here is the info, with the link to join the gathering:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: April 2, 2021 – First Friday Book Synopsis
Time: Apr 2, 2021 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 864 5542 4962
Passcode: 263538
One tap mobile
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Dial by your location
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Meeting ID: 864 5542 4962
Passcode: 263538
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbmIdrRFbX


Reminder: The cost of this remote meeting is “free.”

But, if you would like to contribute to participate, Randy would welcome you to send $12.00 directly to him through PayPal. Click here for a direct link to “donate” through PayPal.

(Note: you can also send money through Zelle, at Randy’s e-mail address).

(Randy’s e-mail address for PayPal, and Zelle, is ).\

Please help spread the word far and wide; help make this a success.


You might want to read this post. It has a printable one-sheet reminder on how to make the most of your remote learning experience.

Remote Learning 101 – Read this before attending your learning session.

Beginning our 24th Year – Bill Gates on Climate, and Mauro Guillen on 2030: Trends – for the April 2, 2021 First Friday Book Synopsis (On Zoom)

Click on image for full view

Click on image for full view

If you need to explain what it is I offer, try this:
Randy Mayeux provides a thorough synopsis of the content of a useful, best-selling business book. He provides a comprehensive, multi-page synopsis handout, that concludes with his own lessons and takeaways from each book he presents.




Friday, April 3, 1998.  The first book I presented was The Circle of Innovation by Tom Peters.  It was not the last book I presented by him.  Karl Krayer presented The Leadership Engine by Noel Tichy.

The first book I presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis, April 3, 1998

The first book I presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis, April 3, 1998

The group was small, but the idea took hold. And we are still at it, beginning year 24.

Through the now complete 23 years of the First Friday Book Synopsis, as close as I can tell, Karl Krayer and I together have presented synopses of 547 books; 2 books every month.  Except that we missed two months in our 23 year history.  One from an ice storm; another from a power outage at the Park City Club.  And, last year, in April, the first month we went to Zoom during the Great Pandemic, I presented only one book.  All of the other months during our 23 year history, it has been two books every month.

547 book synopses in 23 years. Not bad…

Only a very few have been bad books.  Many have been good books. And a fair number have been exceptional books.

If you ask me “Randy, what is the best book you ever presented?,” I would go with Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.  But, I’m cheating a little; I did not present that at the First Friday Book Synopsis regular gathering.  I presented that at a special luncheon gathering a few years back.

But, if you circle back and ask, “so what is the best book you have presented at the First Friday Book Synopsis main gathering?,” I defer.  You need to give me a category.  And even then, there may be more than one; more than one good book on:  leadership; women in business; strategy…

In other words, life-long learning requires life-long learning, and there is no “one book” that provides a life education, or business education.

As we begin our 24th year on April 2, I am grateful to Karl Krayer, my colleague of so many years.  And I am grateful to all who have supported, and participated, and helped make this a true long-term learning experience.

For the beginning of our 24th year, Karl Krayer will return to present a brief remembrance of the beginning of the First Friday Book Synopsis, and the years that followed.April, 2021 FFBS slide

And I have selected two important books for April 2.  One is the new book, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster: The Solutions We Have and the Breakthroughs We Need by Bill Gates. It landed at the #1 spot on the New York Times best-selling business books list this month.  Mr. Gates has been all over television interview shows about this book.  And, to put it simply, it is a book that we should know about. 

The second book is 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything by Mauro F. Guillen. A Wharton professor, he pursues this question:  what are the biggest trends coming at us right around the corner?

We are continuing to meet on Zoom.  The Zoom info is below.

I will e-mail the link to download the two handouts the day before the event.

And, though there is no charge to attend, if you would like to participate financially, (maybe a $12.00 participation), you can do so thorough PayPal by clicking here.  Or, you can send money through Zelle at .

We have over 100 people join us on Zoom each month.  Please plan to be with us, especially on April 2, as we begin our 24th year.  And, please invite many to join in with us.

Let’s keep learning – join us!


Zoom info:

Randy Mayeux is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: April 2, 2021 – First Friday Book Synopsis
Time: Apr 2, 2021 07:30 AM Central Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 864 5542 4962
Passcode: 263538
One tap mobile
+13462487799,,86455424962#,,,,*263538# US (Houston)
+12532158782,,86455424962#,,,,*263538# US (Tacoma)

Dial by your location
+1 346 248 7799 US (Houston)
+1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma)
+1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose)
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
+1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC)
+1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)
Meeting ID: 864 5542 4962
Passcode: 263538
Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kbmIdrRFbX

Reminder: you can purchase our synopses (handouts, plus audio recordings). (We began this a few years into our monthly gatherings().  Click on the Buy Synopses tab at the top of this page and search by title. Or, click here for our newest additions.

Naomi Klein’s Provocative Best-Seller on Capitalism and Climate

Last week, Simon and Schuster published a provocative new business book that flew to the # 3 spot in the best-seller list revealed in the 9/27/2014 edition of the Wall Street Journal.

The book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. Climate, written by Naomi Klein, is a certain selection for one of us at the First Friday Book Synopsis in Dallas.  Watch our web site for the exact month we will present this one.

Naomi Klein pictureWho is Naomi Klein?  She was educated at the University of Toronto, and is known as a social activist due to her criticism of corporate globalization and her candid political analyses.  She is only 44 years old, and became well known in business circles with her 2007 New York Times best-seller, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (New York:  Picador).  In that book, she argued that those who wish to implement unpopular free market policies do so by taking advantage of particular societal segments following major disasters, including political, economic, military, or natural varieties.  Her analysis was that when a society experiences a major ‘shock,’ a widespread desire for a rapid and decisive response to correct the situation follows. In the light of that desire for swift action, unethical and unscrupulous individuals have opportunities to implement policies that are self-serving and illegitimate.  The shock doctrine allows such responses, including manufactured policy changes, to go into immediate effect.

You can read an interview published on September 25, 2014, on Slate.com, about her new book, by clicking here.  Note that the bottom of the interview contains two important corrections.

In This Changes Everything, Klein argues that the climate crisis provides a challenge for us to abandon free-market thinking, restructure the global economy, and rethink current political systems.

This descriptive paragraph about the book comes from Amazon.com:  “Climate change isn’t just another issue to be neatly filed between taxes and health care. It’s an alarm that calls us to fix an economic system that is already failing us in many ways. Klein meticulously builds the case for how massively reducing our greenhouse emissions is our best chance to simultaneously reduce gaping inequalities, re-imagine our broken democracies, and rebuild our gutted local economies. She exposes the ideological desperation of the climate-change deniers, the messianic delusions of the would-be geoengineers, and the tragic defeatism of too many mainstream green initiatives. And she demonstrates precisely why the market has not—and cannot—fix the climate crisis but will instead make things worse, with ever more extreme and ecologically damaging extraction methods, accompanied by rampant disaster capitalism.This Changes Everything Cover

And, later on the same site, “Klein argues that the changes to our relationship with nature and one another that are required to respond to the climate crisis humanely should not be viewed as grim penance, but rather as a kind of gift—a catalyst to transform broken economic and cultural priorities and to heal long-festering historical wounds. And she documents the inspiring movements that have already begun this process: communities that are not just refusing to be sites of further fossil fuel extraction but are building the next, regeneration-based economies right now.

You can bet this book will produce many stimulating conversations.  Watch the major editorial pages of national business magazines and newspaper sections.  I am sure that some will include personal attacks on her own credibility.  Time will tell what is actually true.

Remember that we do not select books to present at the First Friday Book Synopsis that we agree with.  And, we don’t try to get you to agree with the books we select.  We are merely reporters – transferring the information in an objective manner from the author to our audience.

But, when we do this one, I would sure like to stand in the hallway to listen to our attendees talk about it.