Bill Gates: Read these 4 books about climate change—including ‘one of the first books I recommend to anyone’


Bill Gates has four science books he recommends to “anyone who wants to understand the weather and how it’s affected by climate change” — and you don’t need a science background to understand them. 

In a recent blog post, the billionaire shared a list of 25 books he started reading in 2008 as he transitioned from working full-time at Microsoft into a day-to-day role at the Gates Foundation. Four of them particularly helped him learn more about climate change and its effects on the planet, and are still useful to read today, he wrote.

“Not much has changed since then,” Gates noted.

Since 2008, Gates has become one of the world’s most high-profile climate advocates. He has invested more than $2 billion in climate technologies, and wrote a 2021 book called “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster.”

The 25 books on his list helped him get there. “After decades of focusing maniacally on software, I finally had the time to get a better grounding in physics, chemistry, biology, and other sciences, which would help me in my work on health, education, and climate change,” Gates wrote.

Here are the four books that Gates particularly recommends to anyone looking to learn more about climate:

‘Weather for Dummies’

By John D. Cox

The tagline of the “Dummies” brand of educational books is “learning made easy,” and Gates has referred to this particular one as “probably the best book written for a general audience about the subject.”

“It’s actually one of the first books I recommend to anyone who wants to understand the weather and how it’s affected by climate change,” Gates wrote in his blog post.

The book focuses on the basics of weather, from spotting the different types of clouds to learning how to predict a storm. It also dives into climate issues like global warming and how weather affects the “global ecosystem,” making it easier to identify the effects of climate change in your daily weather report.

‘The Atmosphere’

By Frederick K. Lutgens and Edward Tarbuck

This introduction to meteorology was first published in 1979 and now has 14 updated editions. It includes easy-to-understand explanations of elements like precipitation, air pressure and air pollution, according to Gates, who also touted the “colorful illustrations to explain complex subjects.”

“Although it’s intended as a textbook for a college-level course, it’s quite accessible for anyone who’s motivated to learn about how the Earth’s climate works,” Gates wrote.

‘Physical Geology’

By James S. Monroe, Reed Wicander, and Richard Hazlett

Another college-level textbook that Gates claimed can “stand on its own,” this book covers geological subjects like plate tectonics and volcanoes. It also includes subject areas relevant to climate change, like a section on glaciers that are receding due to warmer temperatures, Gates added.

“Part of the joy of reading it is that you get into subjects you probably learned about in elementary school — like plate tectonics and volcanoes — but in way more depth, which makes them even more interesting,” he wrote.

‘Planet Earth’

By John Renton

Gates lauded the late Renton as a science professor and lecturer who was “so good at making geology interesting.” Renton’s book offers an overview of the planet’s physical geology and, in doing so, “helps you see the physical world around you in a different way,” Gates wrote.

Today, Gates is still a voracious reader on scientific subjects, explaining that maintaining a basic grasp of sciences is helpful for the work he does through the Gates Foundation. Notably, his regular seasonal reading lists often feature a variety of non-fiction and fiction works.

“There’s always more to learn,” he wrote, adding: “A couple months ago I even let myself goof off by reading a murder mystery! I doubt my younger self would approve, but it’s fun and educational to branch out.”

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