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It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, "500-year" storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions ann It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, "500-year" storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually. This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century. In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await--food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today. Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the devastation we have brought upon ourselves and an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation.


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It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, "500-year" storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions ann It is worse, much worse, than you think. If your anxiety about global warming is dominated by fears of sea-level rise, you are barely scratching the surface of what terrors are possible. In California, wildfires now rage year-round, destroying thousands of homes. Across the US, "500-year" storms pummel communities month after month, and floods displace tens of millions annually. This is only a preview of the changes to come. And they are coming fast. Without a revolution in how billions of humans conduct their lives, parts of the Earth could become close to uninhabitable, and other parts horrifically inhospitable, as soon as the end of this century. In his travelogue of our near future, David Wallace-Wells brings into stark relief the climate troubles that await--food shortages, refugee emergencies, and other crises that will reshape the globe. But the world will be remade by warming in more profound ways as well, transforming our politics, our culture, our relationship to technology, and our sense of history. It will be all-encompassing, shaping and distorting nearly every aspect of human life as it is lived today. Like An Inconvenient Truth and Silent Spring before it, The Uninhabitable Earth is both a meditation on the devastation we have brought upon ourselves and an impassioned call to action. For just as the world was brought to the brink of catastrophe within the span of a lifetime, the responsibility to avoid it now belongs to a single generation.

30 review for The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    [Original review: Jun 29 2019] A well-written, straightforward and honest book about climate change. The situation is even worse than I thought it was, and I was already far from optimistic. One of the things the author spells out, which I had not properly grasped before, is that climate change will affect different parts of the world very differently. For low-lying equatorial Bangladesh, it is a catastrophe. It sounds like the country may soon - within the next few decades - be rendered uninhabi [Original review: Jun 29 2019] A well-written, straightforward and honest book about climate change. The situation is even worse than I thought it was, and I was already far from optimistic. One of the things the author spells out, which I had not properly grasped before, is that climate change will affect different parts of the world very differently. For low-lying equatorial Bangladesh, it is a catastrophe. It sounds like the country may soon - within the next few decades - be rendered uninhabitable, primarily due to flooding caused by sea level rise. For India, it is not quite as bad, but still terrible. But for Russia, which is so far north that much of its area is currently Arctic wilderness, climate change could end up being a net plus. Russia may be the only country for which this is true. In addition, most of its income comes from fossil fuels. It is easy to see why Putin is overtly taking the position that climate change is a myth. I am sure he does not believe what he is saying. But climate change acts to his advantage, so he welcomes it. I would very much like to know what is really going on inside the Trump administration. They also take the official line that climate change is not a major issue, but again it is hard to take this seriously. This book says that the Pentagon are doing extensive threat analysis and war-gaming of conflicts likely to be caused by climate change, and I think Trump's government is well aware of the real state of affairs. They are hardening their immigration policy and strengthening their defences along the southern border, which is consistent with the expectation that large parts of Central and South America will also become uninhabitable in the near future. The US expects a tide of climate refugees, and the intention is to deny them entry, using whatever level of force is required. I note that plans are being made to lower the threshold at which nuclear weapons can be deployed. But the US is not Russia, and it is going to be hit quite hard; for example, most of Florida will probably be underwater by the end of the century. They will have their own displaced people. I wonder if they are planning to annex Canada. It looks tempting, and with international law already weakened it is hard to see that the US could be meaningfully penalised. If I were Canada, I would think about getting some nuclear weapons. Brexit also makes a lot more sense. Britain is one of the most northerly European countries, and being an island is better placed than most to defend itself from climate refugees; they also have thermonuclear weapons and delivery systems. It looks as though right-wing British politicians are in the process of aligning themselves with the increasingly open Russia-US axis. In theory, it might still be just about possible to create a worldwide coalition with the goal of reducing emissions and limiting the effects of climate change to the point where our current civilisation could continue. The Dems in the US are right: a Green New Deal might make the crucial difference, it's now or never. But with the deck stacked against them in multiple ways, I wonder if they have a real chance of winning the 2020 election. My guess is it's going to be dog eat dog. Well, it's always nice to find out what's actually going on. ______________________ [Update: Aug 19 2019] This just in: Donald Trump says he'd like to discuss the idea of buying Greenland. Now why would he want to do that?

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Boissonneault

    Whether or not you will find this book valuable depends on what you’re looking for; if you’re interested in the science of, or evidence for, global warming, or in creative solutions to save the planet, then you are bound to be, like me, disappointed. The book, rather, focuses almost exclusively on the potential consequences of living on a planet that will experience anywhere from 2 to 8 degrees celsius of warming between now and the year 2100. First, to state the obvious, global warming is defin Whether or not you will find this book valuable depends on what you’re looking for; if you’re interested in the science of, or evidence for, global warming, or in creative solutions to save the planet, then you are bound to be, like me, disappointed. The book, rather, focuses almost exclusively on the potential consequences of living on a planet that will experience anywhere from 2 to 8 degrees celsius of warming between now and the year 2100. First, to state the obvious, global warming is definitely happening, it’s mostly caused by human activity, and the consequences are and will be devastating. This is all beyond reasonable doubt; if you think otherwise, you stand in direct opposition to NASA and to an intergovernmental panel of 1,300 experts from around the world. But what isn’t so conclusive is the inevitability of the worst-case scenario playing out as Wallace-Wells describes. In fact, when reading the book, it seems as if half the time the author isn’t even buying into his own narrative. He constantly wavers back and forth between exaggeration and hedging, at first narrating some devastating scenario and then reminding us that it’s only speculation. (Keep in mind he’s forecasting events up to 80 years in the future, when we have no idea what kind of technology we’ll have and how the complex climate feedback loops will interact.) And that’s the real problem with the book. From the outset the author states that this is not a book about the science of climate change, but if your plan is to narrate the consequences of warming, how can you expect your readers to properly evaluate the likelihood of the narrative without the science? If you want to learn more about global warming, you would get more benefit from visiting NASA’s website on global warming and climate change. Here you will get the facts, science, causes, and consequences of climate change without the alarmist tone and pessimistic narrative. Yes, climate change is a big problem, maybe the biggest problem, and one we need to address immediately, but it doesn’t help anyone to project the worst-case scenario 80 years into the future without offering anything in the way of solutions. If anything, it causes people to care less about climate change as they feel powerless to prevent it. A better allocation of chapters for the book, in my opinion, would be one third devoted to the science, one-third devoted to the possible consequences at each degree of warming, and a third devoted to possible solutions and technological research. Instead, we get a book that lists disaster after unmitigated disaster and wild apocalyptic projections. (Compare this to the recently released book on climate change offering productive solutions: A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow.) Here’s another way to think about it: those of us that understand the science do not need to be scared into thinking that we need to take action, and so his narrative is unlikely to have much of an impact on his sympathetic audience. And for those that doubt the science of global warming to begin with, the narrative is easily dismissed as he doesn’t address the science. So who exactly is the intended readership and what’s the goal? The bottom line is that there are better resources and books on both the science of climate change and the potential solutions.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    In July of 2017, in New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells published an article on climate change entitled “The Uninhabitable Earth.” It began with these words: “It is, I promise, worse than you think.” Now Wallace-Wells has turned that article into a book, and—if anything—he has doubled down. “It is worse,” the book begins, “much worse, than you think.” It is, it surely is. And Wallace-Wells pulls no punches. He does not fog the facts with statistics, or conceal his rage and sorrow under a scien In July of 2017, in New York Magazine, David Wallace-Wells published an article on climate change entitled “The Uninhabitable Earth.” It began with these words: “It is, I promise, worse than you think.” Now Wallace-Wells has turned that article into a book, and—if anything—he has doubled down. “It is worse,” the book begins, “much worse, than you think.” It is, it surely is. And Wallace-Wells pulls no punches. He does not fog the facts with statistics, or conceal his rage and sorrow under a scientist mask. No, for this is not a book of science; it is just what he says it is. “This is not a book about the science of warming; it is a book about what warming means to the way we live on this planet.” He paints pictures of what human life will be like at various degrees of warming; grim even if we mitigate the rising temperature, horrific if we continue to do virtually nothing. The entire book is good, but the opening sequence “Cascades”—a section of roughly thirty pages--is particularly powerful. Wallace-Wells makes it clear that our warmer future will not consist of isolable challenges; no, instead everything will hit the fan at once. As Hamlet’s uncle Claudius once said, “When sorrows come, they come not single spies,/ But in battalions.” Wallace-Wells puts it eloquently too: The assaults will not be discrete—this is another climate delusion. Instead, they will produce a new kind of cascading violence, waterfalls and avalanches of devastation, the planet pummeled again and again, with increasing intensity and in ways that build on each other and undermine our ability to respond . . .” The second sequence, “The Elements of Chaos,”—a hundred pages or so—artificially isolates twelve of these cascading dangers (Heat Death,” “Hunger,” “Drowning,” etc.) into individual chapters, and discusses the contribution of each. In these chapters Wallace-Wells often becomes frighteningly specific, mentioning deleterious effects I would never have anticipated. Consider this passage in “Hunger”: Over the past fifteen years, the iconoclastic mathematician Irakli Loladze has isolated a dramatic effect of carbon dioxide on human nutrition unanticipated by plant physiologists: it can make plants bigger, but those bigger plants are less nutritious. . . Everything is becoming more like junk food. Even the protein content of bee pollen has dropped by a third. Or this little parable in “Plagues of Warming”: But consider the case of the saiga—the adorable, dwarflike antelope, native to Central Asia. In May 2015, nearly two-thirds of the global population died in the span of just days—every single said in an area the size of Florida . . . The culprit, it turned out, was a simple bacteria, Pasteurella multocide, which had lived inside the saiga’s tonsils without threatening its hosts in any way, for many, many generations . . . Suddenly it had proliferated . . . Why? “The places where the saiga died in 2015 were extremely warm and humid . . . When the temperature gets really hot, and the air gets really wet, saiga die. Climate is the trigger, Pasteurella is the bullet.” In the third section, “The Climate Kaleidoscope”—about seventy-five pages—Wallace-Wells treats briefly with some ways we can attempt to make sense of the climate crisis, as we contemplate the possible death of humankind, alone—at least as far as we can tell—in a vast universe (“Storytelling," “Crisis Capitalism,” The Church of Technology,” etc.), and he ends the books with a brief coda—”The Anthropic Principle”—in which he shares the somewhat optimistic way in which he has come to view the human dilemma. True, it is “a sort of gimmicky tautology” that reminds me of the circular logic that brought us, in earlier centuries, the dubious comforts of Anselm’s ontological argument and Pascal’s wager. It is certainly a leap in the dark. Still, it’s better than nothing: [T]he Anthropic Principle . . . takes the human anomaly not as a puzzle to explain away but as the centerpiece of a grand narcissistic view of the cosmos. . . . [H]owever unlikely it may seem that intelligent civilization arose in an infinity of lifeless gas, and however lonely we appear to be in the universe, in fact something like the world we live on and the one we’ve built are a sort of logical inevitability, given that we are asking these questions at all—because only a universe compatible with our sort of conscious life would produce anything capable of contemplating it like this. . . . There is one civilization we know of, and it is still alive and kicking—for now at least. Why should we be suspicious of our exceptionality, or choose to understand it only by assuming an imminent demise? Why not choose to feel empowered by it?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf

    The aspects are so manifold that some are not even included in the prognostics and Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planeta... shows, how vast and complex the possibilities of doom are. Simple heat is something that can lead to inhospitality after a very short time. Like in space, where heat is a great problem for manned space flight, it is very difficult to cool a system down again as soon as it has reached a certain point. So how can humanity heat up as quick as possible? Actually we do it w The aspects are so manifold that some are not even included in the prognostics and Wiki https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planeta... shows, how vast and complex the possibilities of doom are. Simple heat is something that can lead to inhospitality after a very short time. Like in space, where heat is a great problem for manned space flight, it is very difficult to cool a system down again as soon as it has reached a certain point. So how can humanity heat up as quick as possible? Actually we do it with ocean acidification, land consumption and overuse and exploitation of fields, forest destruction, melting of the polar ice caps, wildfires, biodiversity loss, thawing permafrost, methane released from the warming deep sea, sea level rising, poisoning of all ecosystems and ourselves and, of course, Co2 emissions. Not just that those actions bring suffering to millions and soon billions of people whose weather and climate become more and more hostile and extreme, it could definitively endanger the ability of the human species to live in large areas of the planet without underground bunkers. When freshwater and safe regions to live become rarer and rarer, streams of hundreds of millions of refugees will flee to the left, mostly wealthy states. Because the gruesome irony of history lets those who already suffered from colonialization, slavery and neocolonialism suffer even more by making their countries uninhabitable. This will lead to real climate wars and economic collapse, not to mention the plagues that could appear if all places on earth get tropical or subtropical climates. Another aspect is food security, if the main cultivation areas are eradicated and just rich states can grow enough food in glasshouses or underground. Shipping and flying might get difficult to impossible if permanent storms with unseen waves make many main trade routes impassable. The geopolitical and military consequences are unforeseeable and states might not invade any more because of greed or political agitation, but because of the pure need to survive, to save the own population from starving to death. Think tanks and war games are certainly already dealing with the coming possibilities and how to use the development as efficient as possible. To protect the borders from myriads of desperate climate refugees will be a point of their agenda and although the potential for brute force by better and better fully automated robotic and drone warfare is certainly there, they can´t go so far as to butcher some percent of the world population in front of theses fictional red lines drawn on country maps, so they ought search alternatives. There are so many unknown factors, once natural and second human-made. Natural are all kinds of not understood cycles, climate, atmosphere, weather, albedo, ocean current, the activity of earth´s magnetic field, core and mantle, permafrost, solar flares and sun activity, tectonic activity, global wind systems such as jets, etc. That is not even including disasters like earthquakes, volcanos and tsunamis. I mention earthquakes and tsunamis cause they may, with bad luck, appear in areas where there is much industry so that the destruction and thereby exposition of many harmful substances may cause not just regional, but global long term consequences. Especially if gases or other volatile chemicals are included, like HCFCs and CFCs or simply immense amounts of burning chemicals and fuels. The influences by the mentioned, harmful substances that are normally just given to nature in moderate, but permanent doses, are unknown too and more and more in development, just nanomaterials. Nobody knows how those, on land, in sea and air may cause new interdependencies. What happens to all those microorganisms and the food chain and biodiversity is the smallest problem here. Manipulating or destroying those ecosystems brings a few super bioinvaders to the top that change the whole chemical composition of water or soil and thus the physical cycles. Technology will save us? Not in this case and not so soon, because the processes are so mighty that even if we used all our resources for repairing the climate instead of building more tanks, it would be pretty useless. Simply not enough power, no matter what wonder technology might appear during the 21 century. The normal weather is a nice example, because it tends to be cyclic and to a certain degree, predictable. Just change the seasons, thunderstorms and normal weather with periods of long-lasting superstorms, be it hurricanes, cyclons or thunderstorm supercells that are beyond each category because they will peel the surface of the grounds, combined with extreme floods and droughts. It wouldn´t even make sense to rebuild something, cause the new wave of destruction is already rolling. Even if we would care and start researching like mad with huge budgets, there are so many black swans, probabilities and unknown factors that we would just get too much data, maybe with different ways to the solution that are contradictory to another so that nothing can be done with certainty. That´s Russian roulette with a loaded colt, with, let's say, 5 to 6 bullets while drinking covfefe as if everything was fine. There are plenty of alternative future timelines, live on the telescopes, in our solar system and further away. Permanent snowballs, fiery hells like venus, rocks with or without atmosphere or water like Mars. Just choose one and imagine living there or how impossible it seems and actually still is to make such a nightmare a functioning ecosystem. Again. A green new deal, immediately change to a sustainable economic system and a drastic reduction of CO2 emissions are the only options to probably stop this already initiated progress with the hope that it isn´t already too late. I, personally, think so because : Pandoras Box is opened "too little, too less, too late" the point of no return has already been passed etc. and we all will pay the price or just leave earth to destroy other planets far, far away by simply boiling them to death as soon as we have arrived and restart the cycle of stupidity again instead of using fancy Sci-Fi superweapons. Or, we create a fairer world and try to deal with the inevitable as good and as soon as possible with all the energy of an united humanity under the goal to keep the still only home planet livable. A wiki walk can be as refreshing to the mind as a walk through nature in this completely overrated real-life outside books: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runaway... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tipping... Categories https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categor...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    The most accurate terminology to describe this book: absolutely terrifying. It has the same impact a fantastic horror movie or novel does but with one very important difference - THIS IS REAL. If this doesn't wake earth's inhabitants up to our self-made, self-inflicted impending doom I don't know what will. I must add that this is so stark and horrifying that on the night I completed it I failed to sleep for thinking about everything David Wallace-Wells opens our eyes to. One of the hardest-hitt The most accurate terminology to describe this book: absolutely terrifying. It has the same impact a fantastic horror movie or novel does but with one very important difference - THIS IS REAL. If this doesn't wake earth's inhabitants up to our self-made, self-inflicted impending doom I don't know what will. I must add that this is so stark and horrifying that on the night I completed it I failed to sleep for thinking about everything David Wallace-Wells opens our eyes to. One of the hardest-hitting and thought-provoking works of nonfiction I've read in years, but it isn't for the faint of heart, and I've come to expect most people prefer to be ignorant to the truth rather than learning, accepting and then exploring ways to help make the situation better. However, it may already be too late, and unfortunately, this is one of those times where the adage "better late than never" does not apply. If you're expecting a laid-back thesis on the ramifications of climate change then you have come to the wrong place; this is a wake-up call and a call to action. Time is no longer on our side in climate matters which is why books such as this are incredibly important. I have long been taught that if you cause something unexpected to happen that you at least try to put it right. It's like the object of civil liability in law which aims to put the victim back into the position they were in before the crime was committed, and whilst we can’t achieve that we can do things to change the destructive trajectory in which we are heading, but we must take heed and act post-haste. All those seemingly subliminal messages we see, hear and internalise day in day out come together in this book and the author pulls no punches in bringing climate issues to readers consciousness and shouting loud and clear about the issues we face. His passion and commitment to the subject shine through, and although this holds some very scary messages there are also reasons to be hopeful. Ultimately, though, this is a masterful account of how we are well on our way to destroying our planet and ought to be in every school, public library and on the shelves of those of us who care about what the future will hold for our descendants. Many thanks to Allen Lane for an ARC.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Trevor

    One of my favourite Australian novels is Peter Carey’s Bliss. That starts with Harry Joy (isn’t that one of the best names of a character ever?) having a wonderful Christmas party with his family and friends – he has the perfect life and he could hardly be happier. Then just like that, BANG…he has a heart attack and dies. And just as suddenly he is brought back to life – a miracle, no less – he was dead and now he’s alive again. Except that now he finds out that his wife is having an affair with One of my favourite Australian novels is Peter Carey’s Bliss. That starts with Harry Joy (isn’t that one of the best names of a character ever?) having a wonderful Christmas party with his family and friends – he has the perfect life and he could hardly be happier. Then just like that, BANG…he has a heart attack and dies. And just as suddenly he is brought back to life – a miracle, no less – he was dead and now he’s alive again. Except that now he finds out that his wife is having an affair with his best friend, his son is a drug dealer and his daughter is giving his son blowjobs so she can get free drugs, and the advertising company he owns is helping to sell products that are killing the planet. Mr Joy comes to believe, not unreasonably, that he is now in hell and he only thinks he is alive. In a similar way, I think I might have died sometime early in 2016. I mean, since then I’ve struggled to understand the world I’m living in. Ma sotto voce – I should just mention: the election of Brexit, Trump, Bolsonaro, Duterte, Erdoğan and Morrison, and, of course, climate change… This book is a book of horrors. It makes ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ look like what I guess it must have actually been – a best-case scenario. At one point in this he says that he is an optimist and that he believes we will eventually do something to mitigate the destruction of the planet we are living on. You know, the only one in the universe we actually know will support us. But I’ve got to warn you, if you are reading this book for any good news, you’ve picked up the wrong book. I feel like I’ve been pummelled. Now, I’ve said it before and I will say it again – and I will say it over and over again – I’m a pessimist. I actually think it is already too late, we had our chance and we blew it. This book explains just how terrible and costly our mistakes over the last 20 years or so are are going to prove. And we don’t even have an excuse. I mean, sure, you can say something like, well, all of this was done before I was born, as if that made sense – that this is all about the industrial revolution and that there has been 200 years of compound interest debts that have now suddenly fallen due. The only problem is, none of this is quite true – to me the most terrifying statistic in a book was – and I quote, “we have done as much damage to the fate of the planet and its ability to sustain human life and civilisation since Al Gore published his first book on climate than in all the centuries – all the millennia – that came before”. The blood that you can see is mostly on our own hands. Now, I’ve an uncle who is deeply religious and is the sort of person that, when there is a cold day in winter, will say, ‘and where’s your climate change now?’ Yeah, I know – I could tell him the difference between weather and climate, I could say that 8 of the hottest 7 days in history were in the last week, or whatever the figures are – but the point is that the President of the US is even more of a climate change denier than my uncle. Like I said today when I was explaining this book to someone – for some reason I’ve been mis-quoting Shakespeare a lot lately – we are in shit stepped so far that we can’t even smell it any more. The author of this says there is not a single country on the planet that will meet its commitments under the Paris agreements. You know, I don’t think we are quite focused on the problem yet. We are, it seems, about to see the world turned on its head. Something I read a few years ago said that soon (a decade or so from then) the planet will only be able to sustain about half a billion people. That is, seven billion people will need to die and they will be provided that opportunity in quick time. And before you congratulate yourself for being clever enough to have chosen parents who lived in a first world country to be born – admittedly, the effects of climate change will be much, much worse for brown and black people, but no one gets out of this okay. Not even the extreme nastiness that is Australia’s refugee policy or the US child separation nightmare will be enough to save us from the tidal wave that is coming. Nor will the Arab Spring or the war in Syria look like anything more than a kind of picnic, it will all appear as nothing when, as the author says, a billion people are on the move because there is literally no water for them to drink where they are and when the daytime temperatures are so hot that if they stay where they are it will mean they will effectively boiling alive. He makes it clear that the ‘technological fixes’ we imagine are about to save us are based on that one gift the gods left us when Pandora opened her box – misplaced hope. And if you are confident that science will find an answer, you need to remember that every time science has come up with a means to mitigate the disaster we are about to face – we’ve found ways to make the situation a hundred times worse. So that while the cost of solar panels has fallen 80 percent since 2009, and while lots of people have dutifully strapped them onto their houses, carbon output into the atmosphere has increased. I would like to think that ultimately the author will be proven right – that eventually climate change will be so obvious that even my uncle and Donald Trump will think, ‘shit, someone should have done something about this!’ Except, I’ve just been through an election here in Australia, and I can’t particularly say it proved all that reassuring. It was dubbed the ‘climate change election’ – climate change won, by the way. A month or so before that election a million fish died in Menindee – in the Murray-Darling basin. A million fish. Here’s a wee video of it - https://www.theguardian.com/australia... Menindee is in the federal electorate of Parkes. And the good people of Parkes decided to vote in a member of the National Party in the election that followed this slaughter – that is, a party of climate change deniers. At least half of the Great Barrier Reef is dead and the Labor Party only won one seat in the whole of Queensland, and certainly none in far north Queensland. It really isn’t clear to me what it will take – I mean, if this isn’t enough, what evidence would people need? Really, I just have to assume we are dead men walking and that there is nothing that will save us – we are all literally that stupid. Oh well.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Radiantflux

    32nd book for 2019. Wallace-Wells shows in stunning detail just how bad the global neo-liberal consumption=happiness after-party is going to be, and just how soon the lights are going to come on. We are currently at 1-degree warming. We are going to sail pass the 2-degree barrier agreed upon by Paris (that's just a fact). If we are really lucky we might stabilize at 3-4 degrees above baseline (there are no guarantees as some poorly understood feedback loops might push us significantly past this po 32nd book for 2019. Wallace-Wells shows in stunning detail just how bad the global neo-liberal consumption=happiness after-party is going to be, and just how soon the lights are going to come on. We are currently at 1-degree warming. We are going to sail pass the 2-degree barrier agreed upon by Paris (that's just a fact). If we are really lucky we might stabilize at 3-4 degrees above baseline (there are no guarantees as some poorly understood feedback loops might push us significantly past this point). To give some context remember that during the last Ice Age—when there were kilometer deep ice sheets across Europe and North America—the average temperature was only 3 degrees colder. We are going to be living a World at least 3-4 degrees hotter. In beautiful lyrical prose David Wallace-Wells lays out the unfolding global disaster that is climate change. Forget what you think you know about this topic. This is the book about global warming that everyone should read, right now. People are way too complacent about the disaster that is unfolding and will inevitably blight all our children and grandchildren's lives. Even if you feel you can't do anything at least have the dignity to look the future clearly in the eyes. Read this book! 5-stars.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    This book has 5-star material, but a 1-star execution. As someone who is incredibly concerned about our planet and our future, I had such high hopes for this book, but I’ve been left frustrated and disappointed. I knew going into it that the topic wouldn’t make for an easy read, but the writing was so dry and repetitive that I had a hard time focusing. What could have been said in a couple sentences was instead stretched out into several pages – and then repeated using different words shortly af This book has 5-star material, but a 1-star execution. As someone who is incredibly concerned about our planet and our future, I had such high hopes for this book, but I’ve been left frustrated and disappointed. I knew going into it that the topic wouldn’t make for an easy read, but the writing was so dry and repetitive that I had a hard time focusing. What could have been said in a couple sentences was instead stretched out into several pages – and then repeated using different words shortly after. I also knew that this would be a depressing read, but I found it excessively depressing because Wallace-Wells chose to present all the panic-inducing information without offering concrete solutions (he even goes so far as to say that personal changes are completely trivial, and while I agree that significant changes are needed in politics, I would argue that if enough individuals made the commitment to change their consumption patterns, the results would not be trivial at all). I also hated Wallace-Wells' tone, which often came across as condescending. All of that said, there were pieces of information that I bookmarked/highlighted and found quite interesting, including information on weather changes, microplastics, the impact of climate change on mental health and suicide rates, and more. The information in this book is vitally important and necessary, and is scarier than any horror novel, but I wish it was presented differently. As it is, I (a self-proclaimed environmentalist) struggled to read it, and if that’s the case, I doubt it book would sway any climate change deniers. Admittedly, I haven’t read many books on climate change, having learned about it primarily through scholarly articles and online sources, but I’m sure that there are many other books about the topic that are well-articulated, thorough, and more worthy of your reading time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    David

    This is an exceptional, must-read book about the prognosis for our planet Earth. The prognosis is not a happy one--it is truly depressing. If things continue at the present pace, by 2100, temperatures will rise by more than 4C. Large parts of Africa, Australia, the United States, South America, and Asia will become uninhabitable. The U.N.Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a very conservative group, and considers only the most recent, inarguable research. They state that if we ac This is an exceptional, must-read book about the prognosis for our planet Earth. The prognosis is not a happy one--it is truly depressing. If things continue at the present pace, by 2100, temperatures will rise by more than 4C. Large parts of Africa, Australia, the United States, South America, and Asia will become uninhabitable. The U.N.Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is a very conservative group, and considers only the most recent, inarguable research. They state that if we act very soon, and immediately implement all of the agreements made in Paris, we will likely get 3.2C of warming. The planet's ice sheets will collapse. A hundred major cities around the world will be flooded. To date, not a single industrial nation has achieved the pledges made in the Paris climate treaty. To get us down to 2C of warming requires that nations over-shoot their pledges. President Trump's withdrawal from the treaty may be perversely productive--"it seems to have mobilized China--giving Xi Jinping an opportunity and an enticement to adopt a much more aggressive posture toward climate." Of course, China is all talk so far; of all countries, it now has the largest carbon footprint. It has half of the planet's coal power capacity, and its emissions increased 4% in the first three months of 2018. Globally, coal power has nearly doubled since 2000. As carbon dioxide levels rise, so too does it make plants grow bigger, containing more sugars. But nutrients in plants do not increase proportionately. So, it dilutes nutrients in our food supply. Since 1950, the good nutrients in plants--such as protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin C--have declined by one third. Everything becomes more like junk food. The last time the earth was 4C warmer, there was no ice at either pole, sea level was 260 feet higher, and there were palm trees in the Arctic. Near the equator; not pleasant. Peter Wadhams (a scientist I have had the pleasure of working with!) estimated that the reduction of the albedo effect (ice reflects sunlight back into space) could generate the equivalent to 25 years of global carbon emissions. Wildfires in California are increasing in number and intensity. American wildfires now burn twice as much land as in 1970. Fires are even increasing in northern regions, like Greenland, Sweden, and Finland. Globally, deforestation accounts for 12% of carbon emissions, and forest fires, 25%. So it seems to me, that fires are a powerful and significant feedback mechanism; the hotter it gets, the more wildfires burn, releasing yet more carbon into the atmosphere, causing temperatures to increase yet more, and so on. Coal burning increases air pollution, which is an especially big problem in some countries. If China were to improve its pollution to EPA standards, the country's verbal test scores would increase by 13% and math scores by 8%. I am just speculating here; perhaps this implies that as long as pollution is such a problem in China, it will not become a technology innovator, despite its immense population. As further evidence of the problem of air pollution, the introduction of EZ-Pass in American cities has reduced premature births and low-birth-weight by 11% near toll booths, where car exhaust is higher as cars slow down! Perversely, aerosol pollution reflects sunlight back into space, reducing the rate of global warming. Geo-engineering would purposely inject aerosols into the upper atmosphere to reduce global warming--and simultaneously degrade air quality. And, once we begin geo-engineering we could never stop. But because it is relatively cheap, it is perhaps inevitable. A study in 2016 found that 23% of conflict in the world's ethnically diverse countries began during months of weather disaster. Thirty-two countries face extreme risk of conflict and civil unrest from climate disruptions over the next thirty years. The world's least-developed countries will suffer from climate change the most, while the most-developed countries will suffer the least. Environmental disasters have been found to promote disease and mental illness. Climate change is inarguable. There are some skeptics who say that it is due to natural cycles. But that should concern us even more, because it implies that climate change is beyond our control. The belief that climate change is due to human activity should be a comfort because that means we have some control over it. Solving the problem will be difficult. To some, ending the trillions of dollars in fossil fuel subsidies seems more difficult than deploying technologies to suck carbon out of the air. But carbon capture and storage plants are presently just a pipe dream. Rapid technology change has not improved economic well-being. And, although the green energy revolution has yielded productivity gains in energy and in cost reduction, it hasn't reduced carbon emissions. The reason is that dirty energy sources have not been replaced with clean ones; the clean energy sources have simply been added to the same system. As an aside, I thought it interesting to note that creating Bitcoin cryptocurrency now produces as much carbon dioxide each year as a million transatlantic flights! The reasons for inactivity to counter climate change arise from politics. Russia might actually be one of the only countries to gain from climate change. The United States will be hit second-worst of all countries. China may bear most of the responsibility, since its population is the biggest, along with its carbon emissions. The book cites many other books about impending doom and apathy about climate change. The so-called "Drake Equation" helps us to estimate how many civilizations of intelligent beings there might be in the universe. Fermi's Paradox asks the question; if there are so many civilizations, where is everybody? This book speculates that the answer might be that civilization might self-destruct by destroying their own climate. This is a short book, easily readable in a day or two. The book addresses more than just the consequences of climate change--which are truly disastrous. The book also addresses why we seem to be so apathetic. What I would really like to see, though, are some suggestions for getting ourselves out of this rut, into a realistic action plan. Four of the five mass extinctions on Earth were caused by climate change due to greenhouse gases. The worst occurred 250 million years ago, when temperatures increased by more than 10C.

  10. 5 out of 5

    David Wineberg

    The Uninhabitable Earth is not just depressing, David Wallace-Wells’ book is a merciless hammering of the reader, a bludgeoning to wake up to the horrors of climate change. It is both hard and unpleasant to read. Two-thirds through, Wallace unexpectedly pauses to say “If you have made it this far, you are a brave reader.” The structure is simple enough. Wallace divides the planet into 12 plagues. Every paragraph is jammed with facts and citations relating to that aspect. The 12 are: Heat Death, H The Uninhabitable Earth is not just depressing, David Wallace-Wells’ book is a merciless hammering of the reader, a bludgeoning to wake up to the horrors of climate change. It is both hard and unpleasant to read. Two-thirds through, Wallace unexpectedly pauses to say “If you have made it this far, you are a brave reader.” The structure is simple enough. Wallace divides the planet into 12 plagues. Every paragraph is jammed with facts and citations relating to that aspect. The 12 are: Heat Death, Hunger, Drowning, Wildfire, Disasters No Longer Natural, Freshwater Drain, Dying Oceans, Unbreathable Air, Plagues of Warming, Economic Collapse, Climate Conflict, and “Systems”. He groups them under Part 1: Elements of Chaos. I think they’re plagues, in the biblical sense. The book is a compendium of the knowledge out there. Wallace’s own career focuses on climate change, and he has all the sources and resources at his command. It shows clearly in the breath of data he draws on. And they are all connected, with feedback loops and knock-on effects that can magnify a bad situation into a disaster. Wallace makes those connections clear. I have long maintained that the easiest way to view the earth’s response to Man is to think of a wet dog. It shakes violently, flinging the annoying drops out in all directions. It then goes off and scratches itself all over, and eventually dries off and resumes its life. Earth will shake off the effects of Man, but it will take 100,000 years for the oceans alone to reset themselves, and another 100 million years for new life to take shape. In the mean time, everything will be erased. That is the true price of the Industrial Revolution. And as Wallace shows in several places, literally all the money in the world is not enough to fix it. Although this has been coming for a long time, it really took off in just our lifetime. Fully half the carbon in the air was put there in just the last 25 years, he says. The rise in temperatures has led to the warmest five years in history – in just this short century. The intensity of the ramp up in pollution, invisible as most of it is for now, is breathtaking. Literally. And we don’t have to wait to see the effects. Wallace says that deaths from air pollution are currently running at seven million per year – more than the Holocaust - every year. With a two degree rise in temperature, that will eventually hit 150 million a year more than it would at 1.5 degrees. -21 Indian cities expect to have consumed all their groundwater in the next two years. -Just as American Lyme disease is now active and increasing in Europe, Japan, Turkey and Korea, so malaria will spread all over North America as it warms. Ancient diseases frozen in arctic tundra will resume their conquest. This has already happened. -Pointless Bitcoin mining consumes more electricity than all the solar panels in the world can provide. That’s not what solar was for. Put another way, Bitcoin mining produces as much pollution as a million transatlantic flights. -Cities absorb so much heat, they can actually raise nighttime temperatures by as much as 22 Fahrenheit degrees. This means when it’s 130 during the day, it might not drop below 130 at night. -Ideal functional temperature is about 13C or 57F. Every degree the planet warms over where we are now reduces capacity, production, nutrients, availability and human productivity by several percent. Until there is nothing left to reduce. Construction already stops in the summer, as it is too hot for men to work, and asphalt melts. Humanity simply cannot survive outdoors in 120 degree heat. -As carbon fills the air, the protein and nutrient content of every plant drops, currently down a third. When plants become useless nutritionally, most other living things will die. -By 2030, Saudi Arabia will be consuming more energy in air conditioning the desert than it produces in oil. And thereby add that much more heat to it. The last third of the book is a bit of a relief, quoting other people on their interpretations, theories, expectations and fears. But not necessarily new facts, which provides the relief, such as it is. I have read so much in this field that I recognized many of the authors, facts and quotes. It is sadly familiar ground to me. Wallace picked good ones, with important points to make, fulfilling my own expectations as I read. In other words, he got it right. This is what we face. If you’re looking for an understanding of what we know at this time, you won’t do better than The Uninhabitable Earth. About the best hope we have, and the maxim on which we are clearly relying, is that nothing ever turns out the way it first appears. It’s no way to run a planet. David Wineberg

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    In no uncertain terms, the author lays out chapter by chapter the damage we in a short period of time, have done to our planet. Damage that is almost certainly irreversible unless some drastic measures are taken, and taken now. From super stroke, to the increased wild fires, flooding in so many areas, all that we have seen with our own eyes. The carbon being released into our atmosphere is at detrimental levels, life in the near future will be unsustainable in many regions causing more and more In no uncertain terms, the author lays out chapter by chapter the damage we in a short period of time, have done to our planet. Damage that is almost certainly irreversible unless some drastic measures are taken, and taken now. From super stroke, to the increased wild fires, flooding in so many areas, all that we have seen with our own eyes. The carbon being released into our atmosphere is at detrimental levels, life in the near future will be unsustainable in many regions causing more and more climate refugees. There is so much more, the future for our children, all future generations looks beyond bleak. This book is beyond frightening, which I guess is what the author meant to do, hoping to propel people to action. He feels that our hope will lie with new technology and feels this is something silicon valley needs to work on now. This is not just a one country problem, but a world wide problem. All countries will be affected, to one extent of another. This author is not a scientist, he is a journalist but he did his research. I feel this is a book everyone should read, even those who don't believe that climate change and the warming earth, is factual. The narrator is the author himself. It took me a little time to get used to his voice, but once I did he was fine. I give the narration a three.

  12. 5 out of 5

    William

    My rating: One Million Stars... It is completely unavoidable now: The frying of the planet until the collapse of civilisation, and then 100,000 years to recover. Page 1 - "It is worse, much worse than you think. "The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and comes to us bundled with several others in an anthology of comforting delusions: that global warming is an Arctic saga, unfolding remotely; that it is strictly a matt My rating: One Million Stars... It is completely unavoidable now: The frying of the planet until the collapse of civilisation, and then 100,000 years to recover. Page 1 - "It is worse, much worse than you think. "The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and comes to us bundled with several others in an anthology of comforting delusions: that global warming is an Arctic saga, unfolding remotely; that it is strictly a matter of sea level and coastlines, not an enveloping crisis sparing no place and leaving no life undeformed; that it is a crisis of the “natural” world, not the human one; that those two are distinct, and that we live today somehow outside or beyond or at the very least defended against nature, not inescapably within and literally overwhelmed by it; that wealth can be a shield against the ravages of warming; that the burning of fossil fuels is the price of continued economic growth; that growth, and the technology it produces, will allow us to engineer our way out of environmental disaster; that there is any analogue to the scale or scope of this threat, in the long span of human history, that might give us confidence in staring it down. None of this is true." About 40% of the world's population lives within 100 km (about 63 miles) of an ocean. When all oceans rise, where will they live? Can you imagine 3 BILLION REFUGEES? --- I confess to having read only 1/4 of this extraordinary work, and then I had to stop. You and I both know that greed will prevail for just too long to save ourselves and our children. As the climate becomes unliveable, the rich will try to escape with the wealth they have stolen from our lives and our children's futures. Their high walls and private armies are an illusion. They will die with the rest of humanity, clutching their wealth as their children die. Here is my sad review. You know the rest already. David answers questions via Reddit https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comment... Direct Heat Since 1980, the planet has experienced a fiftyfold increase in the number of dangerous [to human life] heat waves; a bigger increase is to come. Food as Pollution To avoid dangerous climate change, Greenpeace has estimated that the world needs to cut its meat and dairy consumption in half by 2050; everything we know about what happens when countries get wealthier suggests this will be close to impossible. And already, global food production accounts for about a third of all emissions. Food Production ... without dramatic reductions in emissions, southern Europe will be in permanent extreme drought, much worse than the American Dust Bowl ever was. The same will be true in Iraq and Syria and much of the rest of the Middle East; some of the most densely populated parts of Australia, Africa, and South America; and the breadbasket regions of China. None of these places, which today supply much of the world’s food, would be reliable sources going forward. ...the droughts in the American plains and Southwest would not just be worse than in the 1930s, a 2015 NASA study predicted, but worse than any droughts in a thousand years... Climate change promises another empire of hunger, erected among the world’s poor. Sudden Arctic Methane release ... one Nature paper found that the release of Arctic methane from permafrost lakes could be rapidly accelerated by bursts of what is called “abrupt thawing,” already under way. Atmospheric methane levels have risen dramatically in recent years, confusing scientists unsure of their source; new research suggests the amount of gas being released by Arctic lakes could possibly double going forward. Full size image here Methane is considered to be around 30x more potent to greenhouse as an equal volume of CO2. Runaway acceleration of warming A hotter planet is, on net, bad for plant life, which means what is called “forest dieback”—the decline and retreat of jungle basins as big as countries and woods that sprawl for so many miles they used to contain whole folklores—which means a dramatic stripping-back of the planet’s natural ability to absorb carbon and turn it into oxygen, which means still hotter temperatures, which means more dieback, and so on. Higher temperatures means more forest fires means fewer trees means less carbon absorption, means more carbon in the atmosphere, means a hotter planet still—and so on. A warmer planet means more water vapor in the atmosphere, and, water vapor being a greenhouse gas, this brings higher temperatures still—and so on. Warmer oceans can absorb less heat, which means more stays in the air, and contain less oxygen, which is doom for phytoplankton—which does for the ocean what plants do on land, eating carbon and producing oxygen—which leaves us with more carbon, which heats the planet further. And so on. The terrifying costs Adaptation to climate change is often viewed in terms of market trade-offs, but in the coming decades the trade will work in the opposite direction, with relative prosperity a benefit of more aggressive action. Every degree of warming, it’s been estimated, costs a temperate country like the United States about one percentage point of GDP, and according to one recent paper, at 1.5 degrees the world would be $20 trillion richer than at 2 degrees. Turn the dial up another degree or two, and the costs balloon—the compound interest of environmental catastrophe. 3.7 degrees of warming would produce $551 trillion in damages, research suggests; total worldwide wealth is today about $280 trillion. Secret Exxon Research 1977 Full size image here 1. Exxon knew in 1977 that their products would destroy the planet. Yet by the mid-1980s the whole oil industry had decided to cover up these facts, to claim they were untrue, to hide the coming apocalypse! What kind of greed and insanity drives a whole class of men to trade the planet for money? 2. If they intentionally covered up global warming, then why? Is it a convenient way to stop overpopulation and eliminate 3 billion "poor people"? What else could their intentions be? Here is how I feel before I even start this book (kindly provided by NetGalley). Honestly, it's already too late. Even a total shutdown of human CO2 emissions right now would not affect the warming, which will accelerate as arctic and sub-arctic permafrosts melt and generate astounding volumes of the 30x more potent Methane gas. Already, millions of sub-arctic lakes are bubbling away, venting methane. Hothouse earth, very soon. (Not to mention the 10,000 other ways we are destroying the planet) The super-rich expect to escape to the poles on luxury icebreakers: Full size image here But the Arctic is actually heating 3x faster than the rest of the planet. No escape there. .

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jenna

    "If we allow global warming to proceed, and to punish us with all the ferocity we have fed it, it will be because we have chosen that punishment—collectively walking down a path of suicide." This book is terrifying but informative. It is terrifying because it is informative. David Wallace-Wells presents us with the cold, hard facts about global warming. Right now, we are only about 1° C warming but are on a course to warm much, much more. We are already witnessing the devastating effects of c "If we allow global warming to proceed, and to punish us with all the ferocity we have fed it, it will be because we have chosen that punishment—collectively walking down a path of suicide." This book is terrifying but informative. It is terrifying because it is informative. David Wallace-Wells presents us with the cold, hard facts about global warming. Right now, we are only about 1° C warming but are on a course to warm much, much more. We are already witnessing the devastating effects of climate change, even at this relatively small amount of warming. Wildfires and droughts, mudslides and floods, hurricanes, tornados and cyclones, heat waves.... Every year these weather events get more extreme, and more lives are lost. This is not an enjoyable book to read, nor is it easy. It is, however, a book that I think every citizen of Planet Earth needs to read. "Any one of these twelve chapters contains, by rights, enough horror to induce a panic attack in even the most optimistic of those considering it. But you are not merely considering it; you are about to embark on living it. In many cases, in many places, we already are." The author shows just how much damage is already unfolding, and shares the predictions of top climate scientists, from such scientists as those of the United Nations and the US military. He discusses the effects we can expect to suffer with each degree of warming the planet endures. This will not make you sleep easy at night. This is the stuff of nightmares. However, burying our head in the sand and pretending it's not so is not an option. It is also, as Mr. Wallace-Wells points out, delusional to expect technology to save us from the effects of global warming. This will almost certainly not be the case. "We think of the technological change necessary to avert it as fast-arriving, but unfortunately it is deceptively slow—especially judged by just how soon we need it." However, we should, we MUST, invest in research to do what we can to lessen the effects -- from carbon capture to creating water from atoms, from vertical gardening to growing meat in a lab (which most meat eaters I've spoken with think is gross but instead would rather eat the flesh of a living being that suffered horrendously for someone to drink a glass of milk or eat a burger -- not to mention what the livestock industry does to our environment and thus hastens global warming). We must do everything in our power to switch to clean, renewable energy and we must do it quickly. This will not reverse the damage that has already taken place and the planet will continue to warm even if we stopped all carbon output today. However, the longer we take to make these changes, the worse we can expect things to be. My only complaint is that Mr. Wallace-Wells at times belittles personal responsibility, effort, and choices to have less of a carbon footprint. It's almost as though he's saying, Go ahead and drive that gas-guzzler, eat that meat, run your AC even when you're not home because, hey! If governments aren't going to tackle the problem and move to renewable and clean energy, we're fucked anyway! I think that is the wrong attitude to have. Certainly we need to raise our voices and demand our governments step in and do something but at the same time, we each of us should do what we can to lessen the amount of carbon and methane we put into the air. How can we demand the governments of the world do something about climate change if we're not willing to make any changes in our own lives? The author does offer some hope and possible solutions in the last part of the book. I personally do not feel much optimism but I do tend to lean towards pessimistic thoughts (well, others say that; I say I'm realistic!). I hope I am wrong. We do have the tools we need: ..."a carbon tax and the political apparatus to aggressively phase out dirty energy; a new approach to agricultural practices and a shift away from beef and dairy in the global diet; and public investment in green energy and carbon capture." . Let's force our governments to take climate change seriously and act to do something about it. Let's take responsibility and save humanity and other animals from the worst that global warming can inflict upon us.

  14. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    "It is worse, much worse, than you think.” That is the first line of this book, which I think is the key book for all of us to to read and read now about the dangers we now face within decades, not centuries, (or what we are already beginning to experience in a very real way) but if you think it and its title are hyperbolic, read the first half of the book as soon as possible and (with science) deny if you can the facts I read there, most of them familiar to those who have been reading the envir "It is worse, much worse, than you think.” That is the first line of this book, which I think is the key book for all of us to to read and read now about the dangers we now face within decades, not centuries, (or what we are already beginning to experience in a very real way) but if you think it and its title are hyperbolic, read the first half of the book as soon as possible and (with science) deny if you can the facts I read there, most of them familiar to those who have been reading the environmental news in the past couple decades. In a sense, the greatest warning to mankind on the environment (so far) happened already in the definitive IPCC report of October 2018, summarized in a New York Times article October 7, 2018: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/cl... The actual report can be found here: https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/ The first half of the book, informed by dozens of scientific reports all largely ignored by politicians and (especially) large scale corporations and the U.S.’s most influential and popular “news” organization, documents the crisis we are now in, with years to fix things, and not a century. The key item on our agenda: The immediate end of carbon emissions that are already dangerously warming the planet. We are already experiencing sea level rise, mass animal extinction (and thus, biodiversity loss), ocean warming, food and water scarcity, economic stagnation, endless global conflicts, extreme weather, massive weather destruction. Can it be done? I doubt it, since we are actually going backwards at the moment, under Trump (and yes, China, and others, of course). But you may ask, why is it politicians might ignore global warming in making policy decisions? Why are the all-important Presidential debates never touching on the future of the planet? Why does no one in the U.S. take climate science seriously? “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it”―Upton Sinclair, I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked In other words, the link between Big Oil and political decision-making is clear, and clearly genocidal. The second half of the book in part explores the problem of our social paralysis and discusses some of the proposed solutions at hand now, in 2019, some of which he dismisses and some he takes seriously. We have maybe ten years, really, to massively begin to fix things. Marshall Plan level. AOC is right to propose it, and yes, you see what happens in congress when she does, but we have to push through. 2001 saw the beginning of a million refugees from Syria still not settled, and the U. N. says there may be as many as 70 million refugees at present around the globe, but they also warn of the very real possibility of upwards of “200 million climate refugees by 2050.” 2050, that's correct. Google it, many organizations agree. And yes, it is 2019. If you think a wall and a shoot-to-kill military at the border can stop this kind of flow of actually hungry and desperate refugees, you are wrong. Peter Gleick documents more than 500 global conflicts pertaining to water alone since 1900; more than half of them have happened since 2010. So: Are you experiencing environmental grief, or climate depression? Feeling paralyzed? What can you do? Vote for the planet, protest, act in any way you can. Support the total shutdown of carbon emissions now, not fifty years from now or it will be too late to make any decisions then, I mean it. We need an unprecedented global initiative now, not unlike the massive global response to Hitler. Who are the thinkers Wallace-Wells likes? Folks like Bill McKibben, Paul Kingsnorth (whose Dark Mountain Project makes sense to him, and I like him, too, though it is retreatism, at this point, really), Jared Diamond, anarchist James C. Scott, but no one in power has read any of these folks. David Wallace-Wells suggests these immediate actions: A worldwide carbon tax; an immediate and fast phasing out of all carbon energy; a shifting away from meat and diary, and public investment in green, renewable energy and carbon capture. Does any of this seem realistic, given that we knew much of this fifty years ago? Not to me, unfortunately, given the extent of the climate denial particularly in the U.S. (but also in other major industrial countries), and the expulsion of scientists from any connection to the Trump administration. But we have to have hope, we have to act, and now. T. S. Eliot worries, “This is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, this is the way the world ends, not with a bang but a whimper,” but Dylan Thomas insists that we “rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I’m with Thomas, but I fear globally, Eliot may finally be right.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jessaka

    First he Roar, Then the Silence “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.” ~~Cree Indian prophecy “God will bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” ~~ Revelation 11:18 In 1957, my 8th grade teacher gave us a lesson on pollution and its effects on our planet. I don’t recall much of what he had said other than he had brought the book, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson to class and discussed it that day. I only recall th First he Roar, Then the Silence “When the last tree is cut down, the last fish eaten, and the last stream poisoned, you will realize that you cannot eat money.” ~~Cree Indian prophecy “God will bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” ~~ Revelation 11:18 In 1957, my 8th grade teacher gave us a lesson on pollution and its effects on our planet. I don’t recall much of what he had said other than he had brought the book, Silent Spring by Rachel Carson to class and discussed it that day. I only recall that the book said that there would come a day when spring would arrive, and there would be no more song birds. While I haven’t read her book, I never forgot its title or who wrote it. It amazes me that we were talking about this issue over sixty years ago, yet we have done little to nothing about it. Did we think that the earth would just cleanse itself? The next time I remember hearing about this subject was in 1964 when I was in a religious cult. The bible verse at the beginning of this review was often quoted by them. Still, I did not understand the full implications of pollution, what it was really doing to our planet. Those in my new religion were also polluting while blaming only the big corporations. When I did a Google search to find this scripture’s source, I found their website, and then as I was reading their commentary on it, I was horrified, for they actually said that their members, because they were also polluting the earth, might not be saved at Armageddon even if they planted a tree. And it was suggested that they do just that, plant a tree. What a cruel thing to say to members who already fear Armageddon. In the 1980s, I had been out of that religion for 10 years and was working at the North Berkeley library when I found a book that I now believe to have been written by Edgar Cayce. In it was a map of what the U.S. would look like in the future. The waters had rose so much that rhe U.S. didn’t look the same. California was gone, as well as Florida, and I believe that many of the western states were gone as well. I found it all fascinating, but then I didn’t check the book out, so I didn’t even know why the U.S. was to be covered in water or even if it told. While I didn’t think much of it, I never forgot it either, just as I never forgot Rachel Carson’s book. Some things are just more unforgettable. In later years I saw Cayce’s map again, for a friend had it in her possession. And since I had recently seen a climate change map of the U.S. in the September 2013 issue of the National Geographic magazine, I was shocked. They were similar but Cayce’s map had more land mass under water. Cayce, as some may not know, was called The Sleeping Prophet because he would go into a hypnotic trance and gather information about our planet’s past and its future. He also gave past life readings as well as prescribing health remedies. He died in the 1950s. Not being a Cayce fan, I decided to try to read his book, Earth Changes, but it is rather strange and unbelievable at times, well, most of the time. He even talked about California and Japan falling into the ocean. I picked up the Pulitzer Prize winning book, The Sixth Extinction over a year ago, and it was then that I really feared for the earth and for all life on it. The author said that some scientists have given us 50 years, and then we would become extinct. This didn’t leave me with a good feeling. She didn’t go into detail as this book had, which made it much more frightening and I might add, depressing. This author talked, not just about the various ways in which we are polluting this earth, but he also lists the many ways in which we could die. Of course, I thought, did I think that it would all happen over night, that we would not suffer? I just didn’t wish to think about it. While reading The Sixth Extinction, I recall a sentence that at least gave me hope for this earth, and I paraphrase, “In 100 million years what is now known as civilization will be reduced to a thin layer in the earth the size of a cigarette wrapper.” It is hard to imagine that all of our dreams, our hopes, and our loves would be forgotten. It would be as though we had never existed.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Michael Ferro

    It is no secret that the human race is hellbent on destroying itself; we invite our own person apocalypse every day that we sit and do nothing. But just how hard will it be for humans to change their ways? What does the future hold in store on this rapidly warming planet if we don't change? What if we DO change—will it matter? Or have too many red lines been crossed. Though thoroughly depressing, this book is one of the most level-headed, well-balanced books I've read on the impending doom known It is no secret that the human race is hellbent on destroying itself; we invite our own person apocalypse every day that we sit and do nothing. But just how hard will it be for humans to change their ways? What does the future hold in store on this rapidly warming planet if we don't change? What if we DO change—will it matter? Or have too many red lines been crossed. Though thoroughly depressing, this book is one of the most level-headed, well-balanced books I've read on the impending doom known as climate change. It's not an easy read—and I certainly don't suggest it for the faint of heart or new parents—but for those who want a better understanding of our current predicament and just what can and should be done, if anything, must read this book. It may be too late to stop the effects of climate change, but the severity of its impact can be minimized. THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH is a complete and uncompromising look at our collective future in a warming world, and it should be required reading for anyone who denies there's a problem, or anyone who is at all concerned, or anyone who enjoys breathing air and not dying in wildfires, immigration warfare, or drowning within their own cities...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alice Lippart

    Alarming and very difficult to take in, but important.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Leonie

    mandatory reading

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kaelan Ratcliffe▪Κάϊλαν Ράτκλιφ▪كايِلان راتكِليف

    The End Its time for all of us to stop playing games. This book is a cascade of anxiety inducing, despair-magnifying horror. I had an minor anxiety attack on the thirteenth page. Even Wallace-Wells (the author) commends his readers for reaching a certain stage within his extended essays* pages. I've managed to desensitise myself to many ecological / climate change based articles, books, and journals so that I may educate myself on the topic. I erected barriers in my mind, so that I might hand The End Its time for all of us to stop playing games. This book is a cascade of anxiety inducing, despair-magnifying horror. I had an minor anxiety attack on the thirteenth page. Even Wallace-Wells (the author) commends his readers for reaching a certain stage within his extended essays* pages. I've managed to desensitise myself to many ecological / climate change based articles, books, and journals so that I may educate myself on the topic. I erected barriers in my mind, so that I might handle the truth scientists stare at daily when analysing the state of the planet. However, The Uninhabitable Earth utterly vaporised those barriers into a pathetic nothingness. Wallace Wells completely gives up playing around in this text: we're on our way out if we don't stop what's happening within a decade (at maximum). We have already baked enough carbon into the system that a two degree heating up of the plant is almost certain. As such, Mr. Wells lays out, simply, clearly, exactly what we can expect from that 2 degrees. If we persue it further, a three, four and five degree increase in temperature will compound our suffering immensely (words really don't do justice to carnage the earth will wreak at a stage such as this). The result is utterly soul destroying. The massive body of information from decades of climate research he has collected is an amalgamation of irrefutable evidence that shows if we don't act, we are in store for what can only be described as Hell on Earth. As such, we have no choice but to take action. The environmental movement extinction rebellion is planning a huge protest of disruption on April 15th 2019 to force governments to act; I will be attending. I would advise planning local action of your own. We're out of time. This work is the literary access we have been given to stare into the human species collective soul. I am not engaging in dramatic flare when I say this book is an initiation. Every single one of us must read this book first before EVEN SAYING A SINGLE WORD about how we plan to individually deal mentally, and physically with climate change. As far as I'm concerned, you, me, and everyone on this earth has no right to even comment on this until they actual read what we're in store for (go for other books if not this one, whatever is required; read it). My conclusion: this book more requires action, less analysis. Our time is up. * This book originally appeared as an essay in the New Yorker 2018.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    David Wallace-Wells is a journalist who’s written articles for New York Magazine and The Guardian. This is his first book, which he admits that people, upon reading, may call alarmist, which would be okay with him because, he states, “I am alarmed.” With an array of scientific resources, Wallace paints a bleak landscape for humanity’s future if no changes are made in our use of fossil fuels. Wallace does not go down the path of Guy McPherson, who consistently predicts near-term human extinction. David Wallace-Wells is a journalist who’s written articles for New York Magazine and The Guardian. This is his first book, which he admits that people, upon reading, may call alarmist, which would be okay with him because, he states, “I am alarmed.” With an array of scientific resources, Wallace paints a bleak landscape for humanity’s future if no changes are made in our use of fossil fuels. Wallace does not go down the path of Guy McPherson, who consistently predicts near-term human extinction. In fact, Wallace labels McPherson as a fringe element. However, Wallace readily admits that we’re just at the beginning of what will soon look much worse. Pg 34. “Annihilation is only the very thin tail of warming’s very long bell curve, and there is nothing stopping us from steering clear of it. But what lies between us and extinction is horrifying enough, and we have not yet begun to contemplate what it means to live under those conditions--what it will do to our politics and our culture and our emotional equilibria, our sense of history and our relationship to it, our sense of nature and our relationship to it, that we are living in a world degraded by our own hands, with the horizon of human possibility dramatically dimmed.” In Part II, Wallace extrapolates what the future could look like under chapter headings of Heat Death, Hunger, Drowning, Wildfire, Diasters No Longer Natural, Freshwater Drain, Dying Oceans, Unbreathable Air, Plagues of Warming, Economic Collapse, Climate Conflict, and a chapter he entitles, “Systems.” Wallace gives data, statistics, facts, all supported by scientific research. The notes in the back of the book (65 pages of them) align his sources with the page number on which they are presented, a much-appreciated effort that allowed me to run my own credibility checks. The information that Wallace dispenses is not easy to read. It took me a few weeks to read this relatively short book, one, because it is dense with facts, two, because emotionally and mentally, I needed breaks. He explains that we have already left behind the environmental conditions under which human life evolved, and poses the question, “What will it mean to live outside that window, probably quite far outside it?” In Part III, Wallace discusses the stories we tell about climate change, our apocalyptic literature and movies. He also discusses how we may rationalize our thinking about climate change, will technology save us, and political ideologies, as well as our narratives of progress. This is a serious and comprehensive work related to climate science as it is known in 2019. I’ll share a couple of Wallace’s notes: Shows how the earth’s temperatures have changed over the last 20,000 years. https://xkcd.com/1732/ 2. The IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) 2018 report https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/ But here is a link to a site that is more concise and gives six takeaways from the IPCC report. http://blogs.edf.org/climate411/2018/...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    Dystopian science fiction is more uplifting than Wallace-Wells excellent book outlining just how dire the future is for humans on our beautiful planet. We are rapidly destroying our precious ecosystems by adding more and more carbon to the atmosphere. Wallace-Wells warns of collapsing ice sheets, water scarcity, droughts, and fires that result in a decrease of arable land, and rising sea levels. The solution is for the entire globe to reduce its carbon footprint with revolutionary zeal. It would Dystopian science fiction is more uplifting than Wallace-Wells excellent book outlining just how dire the future is for humans on our beautiful planet. We are rapidly destroying our precious ecosystems by adding more and more carbon to the atmosphere. Wallace-Wells warns of collapsing ice sheets, water scarcity, droughts, and fires that result in a decrease of arable land, and rising sea levels. The solution is for the entire globe to reduce its carbon footprint with revolutionary zeal. It would require powerful political leadership and the support of the world’s populations. Right! The possibility of that happening is pretty slim. Net—we are all doomed. None-the-less, this is an important book to read. Highly recommend.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Max

    Wallace-Wells paints a bleak picture of our future if climate change isn’t addressed seriously and soon. He lays out a zodiac comprised of twelve “elements of chaos” delineating the many ways we will suffer. They range from flooding, heat waves, monster storms, and drought to ruined agriculture, shattered economies, dislocation of hundreds of millions of people, and wars. He questions our ability to respond. In the U. S. we have a climate denier as president who dismisses climate change as a hoa Wallace-Wells paints a bleak picture of our future if climate change isn’t addressed seriously and soon. He lays out a zodiac comprised of twelve “elements of chaos” delineating the many ways we will suffer. They range from flooding, heat waves, monster storms, and drought to ruined agriculture, shattered economies, dislocation of hundreds of millions of people, and wars. He questions our ability to respond. In the U. S. we have a climate denier as president who dismisses climate change as a hoax. The leaders of most of the countries of the world pay lip service to confronting climate change but at best make marginal efforts to do so. So every day our situation grows more dire. Severe consequences are already baked in. Action now is about preventing catastrophic change. Having already read enough similar descriptions of the future, the most disturbing part of the book to me was Wallace-Wells take on human psychology. Humans don’t have a good record facing future threats where the severity of the outcome is not readily apparent. People not only deny and minimize, they foster unrealistic optimism about our ability to fix the problem once it is upon us, and many just don’t want to think about it. Even when we experience more severe consequences we will still have the same ideological divide among the world’s people. Cooperation will still be difficult. Some will embrace science, but others will adopt conspiracy theories and many will see it as part of God’s plan. Wallace-Wells is ringing the alarm for us to take action, but this is not a hopeful book. I completely agree with his message, though I wasn’t crazy about the style. He quickly jumped from one idea or fact to another layering a lot of worst case scenarios on top of more widely accepted ones. I didn’t feel this was necessary to make his point and felt it diminished the strength of his argument. However I take the threat of climate change every bit as seriously as he does and if this works to get the message out I am all for it.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    A book that truly changed the way I look at the world -- it is sending me down an entire rabbit hole of learning more about climate change and what I can do to be a part of collective action. I especially appreciate the anthropocentric approach to Wallace-Wells argument, as I think that connected with me on a deeper level than some of the more romantic arguments about the purity of nature. Don't get me wrong, I love nature & I get that those arguments have their place, but those arguments connec A book that truly changed the way I look at the world -- it is sending me down an entire rabbit hole of learning more about climate change and what I can do to be a part of collective action. I especially appreciate the anthropocentric approach to Wallace-Wells argument, as I think that connected with me on a deeper level than some of the more romantic arguments about the purity of nature. Don't get me wrong, I love nature & I get that those arguments have their place, but those arguments connect with a different part of my heart than contemplating the abject human misery that a huge swath of our world is heading towards

  24. 4 out of 5

    Malia

    This is a must-read! The book rattled me (how could it be any other way with a title like Uninhabitable Earth), but maybe that's important given the current situation. I need to think about this for a while longer before I can write a better review, but I certainly recommend it! Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com This is a must-read! The book rattled me (how could it be any other way with a title like Uninhabitable Earth), but maybe that's important given the current situation. I need to think about this for a while longer before I can write a better review, but I certainly recommend it! Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com

  25. 5 out of 5

    Xtine

    Covers similar ground as Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, but with less depth & specificity and zero action plan. In spite of pooh-poohing everything from individual lifestyle choices to climate-first candidates, with a ton of what-about-isms, Wallace-Wells ends on an optimistic note — based on what, he does not say. I recommend Klein’s book instead of this one — or in addition to this, especially for those this left feeling nihilistic and hopeless. Covers similar ground as Naomi Klein’s book This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate, but with less depth & specificity and zero action plan. In spite of pooh-poohing everything from individual lifestyle choices to climate-first candidates, with a ton of what-about-isms, Wallace-Wells ends on an optimistic note — based on what, he does not say. I recommend Klein’s book instead of this one — or in addition to this, especially for those this left feeling nihilistic and hopeless.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Steve

    Review supplement: I recommend this book strongly (more on that below), but (1) if you've read it and enjoyed it; or (2) if the book is daunting and you'd prefer to dip your toe in the water with a pocket-sized novella that's serious-as-can-be but packaged as speculative fiction, I strongly recommend Oreskes & Conway's The Collapse of Western Civilization. I found Collapse particularly gratifying (and frightening) as a companion/supplement to this (and a number of others).... - - - [Original revi Review supplement: I recommend this book strongly (more on that below), but (1) if you've read it and enjoyed it; or (2) if the book is daunting and you'd prefer to dip your toe in the water with a pocket-sized novella that's serious-as-can-be but packaged as speculative fiction, I strongly recommend Oreskes & Conway's The Collapse of Western Civilization. I found Collapse particularly gratifying (and frightening) as a companion/supplement to this (and a number of others).... - - - [Original review] Wow. ... Is it poetic or ironic or par for the course that I finished reading this book on the day that, in the words of the New York Times, the current Presidential administration "formally notified the United Nations that it would withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on climate change, leaving global climate diplomats to plot a way forward without the cooperation of the world’s largest economy...." The book is a must read. I'd heard nothing but positive things about it ... and I wasn't disappointed ... yet, now, having read it, I don't feel it has received the attention it deserves. ... And I'm guessing I'm not alone in having put it off because it's just more bad news in an era that feels like a relentless, all-encompassing bad news cycle. But it's a powerful book. It's startling and unnerving and disorienting and stark and frightening and sophisticated and eclectic and unrelenting and (trigger warning) depression inducing and deeply disorienting and dense (and thus, frequently, challenging, because the fire hose force delivery of bad news and statistics can be overwhelming ... which, for me, meant that I was constantly doubling back to read passages when I just couldn't process everything at the speed at which it was delivered) and organized and logical and, in parts, appropriately passionate and dispassionate and potent, and ... and ... it's an important, nay, a critical drop in the ocean of advocacy that ... somehow ... needs to quickly rise to the level of not-just-national-but-global clarion call.... My sense is there's not much debate that this book is excellent, important, informative, and worth reading, so I think I'll truncate this review with a quote that, for me, reflects the overall experience of reading the book: If this[, the coming, inexorable devastation caused by climate change,] strikes you as tragic, which it should, consider that we have all the tools we need to stop it .... That the solutions are obvious and available does not mean that the problem is anything but overwhelming.... Read the book. Buy an extra copy. Pass it on to a friend. ... When the paperback comes out in the Spring, I may order them in bulk. A pointless anecdote: reading this reminded me of reading Tim Snyder's powerful slender volume On Tyranny, which, if you haven't read, you should, but, alas, the kind of folks who are open to the book aren't really the source of the problem, but I digress. There are problems that are obvious ... and there are obvious solutions ... but ... without political will to do the right thing compounded by a diffusion of responsibility and general indifference ... inertia leads to inaction and the status quo ... which only exacerbates the problem ... which can lead to disastrous results ... and yet.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Henk

    The mind boggling, all encompassing impact of a few degrees change in temperature terrifyingly captured - 3,5 stars rounded up It has become commonplace among climate activists to say that we have, today, all the tools we need to avoid catastrophic climate change—even major climate change. It is also true. But political will is not some trivial ingredient, always at hand. We have the tools we need to solve global poverty, epidemic disease, and abuse of women, as well. The four horsemen of the apoc The mind boggling, all encompassing impact of a few degrees change in temperature terrifyingly captured - 3,5 stars rounded up It has become commonplace among climate activists to say that we have, today, all the tools we need to avoid catastrophic climate change—even major climate change. It is also true. But political will is not some trivial ingredient, always at hand. We have the tools we need to solve global poverty, epidemic disease, and abuse of women, as well. The four horsemen of the apocalyps: Cascades and Elements of Chaos The first two sections of The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, Cascades and Elements of Chaos, for me vie with The Road of Cormac McCarthy for the title of most depressing literature I ever read. Except that this book is non-fiction, so I think David Wallace-Wells wins the contest. Just a small selection of facts which chilled me (yes, an unfortunate pun): - More carbon leads to more plant mass but less efficient carbon capture by plants and a reduction in vitamins and nutrients; - Heat expounds human death rates because our skin can't cool us effectively above 38 degrees; - Major food crop production zones are moving from the equator to less fertile soil with a speed of 250km per decade; - How our main crops drop in production with 10% per 1 degree centigrade and how that is non-linear (e.g. more production loss with higher temperatures is to be expected); - Floods in Bangladesh have already submerged two thirds of the country and effecting 41 million people in 2017; - How the polar regions show especially large temperature increases, exponentially increasing glacier loss in both Greenland and Antarctica, with the potential of raising sea levels up to 80 meters; - Permafrost lines have moved up 128 km in 50 years, making the risk of methane (a much more potent greenhouse gas than carbon) release in the atmosphere ever larger; - How in the last 25 years humanity emitted the same amounts of carbon as since the start of the industrial revolution; - Even in our lifetime extreme weather events are become a new normal, but only a taste of what the future will hold; - How a quarter of the worst fires in the recorded history of California occured in 2017, how an increase in CO2 in the atmosphere impacts cognitive functioning, how ancient bacteria and viruses can emerge from melting permafrost, that depressions and post traumatic stress symptoms after natural disasters are much worse (although the reference group of children versus soldiers is not comparable) than the effects of war on military personnel... These sections are well written and sobering as you are buffeted by David Wallace-Wells in notes and all too scientifically expected (or already happening) doom. This section made me think a bit about how the West-Romans will have felt in 476. The Climate Kaleidoscope and The Anthropic Principle How will we live on: simply as we, our ancestors, always have in the face of uncertainty and death. By narrowing down the circle of people we feel empathy towards. A explanation for the resurgence of own people first populism. The third and fourth sections are markedly weaker in my view, because these are more about blame and cultural ramifications than about solutions As often, blame is put at systems and capitalism, human greed in essence. A neat narrative, like the author and reader are not part of that at all, and can just muse further about how the world will (in various degrees) go to hell with clean hands for themselves. Undoubtedly activism is important, and voting, but how to righteously act in the face of climate change is not more than scratched at by Wallace-Wells and that is a missed change in my view. Carbon capture at 3.000 billion USD a year is brought forward as a solution (and if that seems mind boggling, think of the tax cuts for the rich that Donald Trump enacted of 1.200 billion, so indeed political will still holds some power to change the course of future events). But overall, I felt that the portrayal of climate change as a kind of retrospective biblical scourge to rain havoc on our whole concept of enlightenment and progress, is too much like a self righteous cop out than as an active approach to get onwards from here. The metaphor of civilisation, being a thin, just settled crust on lava, with the risk of falling through into fiery pits when we tread unwisely, was beautiful. And in that vein I want to end this review with a quote from the second part of this important book: That we know global warming is our doing should be a comfort, not a cause for despair, however incomprehensibly large and complicated we find the processes that have brought it into being; that we know we are, ourselves, responsible for all of its punishing effects should be empowering, and not just perversely. Global warming is, after all, a human invention. And the flip side of our real-time guilt is that we remain in command. No matter how out-of-control the climate system seems—with its roiling typhoons, unprecedented famines and heat waves, refugee crises and climate conflicts—we are all its authors. And still writing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Murtaza

    This is the book that will snap you out of your climate apathy. The Uninhabitable Earth is a tour of the incredibly dire material threats that are staring us in the face right now, as well as the moral and ethical world we might hope to live in after fatally throwing our planet off balance. The book is perfectly structured to target all the excuses you've made in your mind to not think about this. Catastrophic climate change is not something that's going to happen a long time from now, we're goi This is the book that will snap you out of your climate apathy. The Uninhabitable Earth is a tour of the incredibly dire material threats that are staring us in the face right now, as well as the moral and ethical world we might hope to live in after fatally throwing our planet off balance. The book is perfectly structured to target all the excuses you've made in your mind to not think about this. Catastrophic climate change is not something that's going to happen a long time from now, we're going to live through it ourselves. Rising sea levels are not the main issue; they might be the least of the horrors we are sowing. These are not temperatures normally fluctuating. Technology is not going to save us. Much of our future hardship is already baked in, but the good news is that we can still act. However it's not going to be free, it's not going to be done by someone else, and it's not going to happen unless we make real sacrifices while making unprecedented changes to our economies and societies, right now. The book gives brief outlines of what the world will look like at different degrees of warming. We have already crossed 1 degree and are headed towards 1.5 degrees. Two degrees is the limit of what we might find bearable. Beyond that we enter a true hellworld. Global warming moves fast, it is not something that takes decades to become manifest. Out of control drought and forest fires, raging diseases, rampant vermin, super hurricanes, crop failures, tornados, unbearable heat, rising seas and sociopolitical turmoil are on the way in our lifetimes. On the higher reaches of temperature gains, we face instant heat-death if we spend more than a few minutes outdoors in most of the world. This is a frightening vision that we're already living through the earliest stages of. It might be hard to imagine this dystopia right now because we've grown up with something else as our baseline for normality. But as we move the earth out of the fine balance that made it conducive to life, bringing it just a fraction of a bit closer to Venus, we are terminating the very conditions that made our species possible in the first place. Wallace-Wells is not a scientist; he's a well-educated layperson who knows well the mental habits of people like him. The tendency to downplay, discount, ignore or resign ourselves to whatever is coming while secretly believing it will be mostly OK in the end is widespread. In fact it's not going to be OK, unless we steer clear by rapidly reducing our emissions as soon as possible. Otherwise we are going to be living in a radically impoverished world where the memory of taking a hot shower will seem like an impossible luxury. The book is well written and elegantly gets you up to speed on this subject. Despite the bleak subject matter, he actually still holds out the hope that we can avoid the worst of what is coming. This is a deadly problem we caused over the course of one single generation of heavy emissions, not a long-tail one going all the way back to the Industrial Revolution. We have the tools to avert the catastrophe we are careening towards. A strong carbon-tax would be a meaningful first step. It is fundamentally politics that is stopping us, but that is in our hands to change. The book is particularly important because it leaves you feeling galvanized at the end rather than defeated. If you know someone who is only going to read one thing this year, it should be this.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Max

    I made it to roughly page 50 before the urge to give up overpowered anything else. This is a shockingly bad book, especially given how necessary its warnings are. Every sentence is unnecessarily convoluted; every paragraph is more disjointed and baffling than the next. It's virtually impossible to learn anything because wading through the prose and the useless asides takes so much effort. This is a total waste. Put it aside and wait until someone else writes the book this should have been.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca McNutt

    If you like books fuelled more by fear and you enjoy being depressed, this would be a good choice. I really don't care about climate change. Reading this book hasn't driven me to care further; if anything, it made the whole scenario of it all the more laughable, and after a while I wasn't sure whether I was reading non-fiction or a really monotonous dystopian novel of some kind. It's also not particularly original or telling us anything we haven't heard before. I think it's arrogant for the huma If you like books fuelled more by fear and you enjoy being depressed, this would be a good choice. I really don't care about climate change. Reading this book hasn't driven me to care further; if anything, it made the whole scenario of it all the more laughable, and after a while I wasn't sure whether I was reading non-fiction or a really monotonous dystopian novel of some kind. It's also not particularly original or telling us anything we haven't heard before. I think it's arrogant for the human race to assume that we are so important that we must radically change our habits to protect ourselves. The earth doesn't care about us and will go on with or without us, and this book is just stating the obvious while hiding a very politically-motivated issue under the guise of a worldwide apocalyptic crisis. The Uninhabitable Earth, like Silent Spring and An Inconvenient Truth, before it will be my generation's Bible when it comes to beating a dead horse for the 8th decade in a row and fighting for some unattainable utopia which does not (and will not) ever exist, whilst wallowing in the misery of what the book predicts will come later and blaming corporations for it from behind their iPhones and Starbucks coffees.

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