Bill Gates was prescient in warning about the threat of pandemics long before anyone had heard of Covid-19. In his new book, he's sounding the alarm about another threat on the horizon and once again urging the world to take action now to avoid catastrophe later.
As the title suggests, How to Avoid Climate Disaster digs deep into the problem of climate change and the multi-pronged solutions the world needs to employ to avert the worst-case scenarios. If your business is in any way related to the climate, it's of course a must-read. But it sounds pretty fascinating for just about anyone who is interested in leaving both a thriving economy and a healthy planet to their kids.
Even if you're a little too deep into today's disaster to have much of an appetite for reading about the next one coming around the bend, Gates insists you should still spend some time thinking about your contribution to the problem now.
In an excerpt from the book recently published on his blog, the Microsoft-founder-turned-philanthropist insists that "although the most impactful steps we can take to avoid a climate disaster must happen at the governmental level, you have power to effect change as a citizen, a consumer, and an employee or employer." Here are three things he recommends.
Sure, eating less meat or driving a hybrid will reduce your carbon footprint. But as an individual, the single biggest impact you can make is by voting in officials at all levels of government who take climate change seriously and offer science-based solutions.
"Engaging in the political process is the most important single step that people from every walk of life can take to help avoid a climate disaster," Gates writes, concluding, "Whatever other resources you may have, you can always use your voice and your vote to effect change."
2. Bug those you voted for to take action.
Still have a little appetite for politics left after you made it out to the polls on election day? Then get busy bugging elected officials to take climate change seriously. "It may sound old-fashioned, but letters and phone calls to your elected officials can have a real impact," Gates reminds readers. If you really want to go all in, you could consider running for office yourself in your local community.
3. Vote with your dollars, too.
Buying with the environment in mind can certainly be helpful in the short term. The biggest impact you make, when you take the climate into consideration when making purchasing decisions, is the signal you send to companies that there is real demand for responsible products and consumers are willing to pay a bit of a premium for them.
That's why Gates urges both business owners and consumers to sign up for green energy schemes if their local energy company offers one (you can check if yours does here), consider whether an electric vehicle might be right for you (though Gates admits they're not suitable for everyone), or give plant-based "meat" a try.