THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH by David Wallace-Wells

From the Jacket

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.

My Thoughts

THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH is a great starting point if you know virtually nothing about climate change, and, if you’re like me and you’re constantly reading up on the environment, chances are you’ll still learn something.  With this book, David Wallace-Wells expands his original New York magazine article, briefly touching on a wide number of topics that are all related in some way to carbon emissions and climate change, including extreme heat, hunger, and sea level rise.  As a journalist, Wallace-Wells utilizes logical appeal; his pieces overflow with climate research and his writing revolves around fact and data.  Much of the information presented in the book reflects the information presented in my 100-level climate change course at university, so reading THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH is basically like taking an introductory class to all things climate change (but much, much cheaper!!).

“Scientists spent decades presenting the unambiguous data, demonstrating to anyone who would listen just what kind of crisis will come for the planet if nothing is done, and then watched, year after year, as nothing was done.”

As climate change is a topic I am extremely passionate about, I think THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH would do a great job of convincing nonbelievers that climate change is real.  The sheer number of facts Wallace-Wells includes makes his work nearly inarguable and incredibly persuasive.  (If only I could get my uncle to read this book!!!) However, as the book is packed with data, and there are few personal interjections from the author, it can feel dry at times.  It’s also very bleak; THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH is basically a long list of every environmental problem we face from carbon emissions without giving any solutions, advice, or action plan.  Still, despite the depressing content, Wallace-Wells is fantastic writer, and the information within infuriated me so much that I had to continue reading regardless.  I’d recommend Wallace-Wells’ THE UNINHABITABLE EARTH to anyone searching for more information on our modern climate crisis.

3 Comments

  1. Literary Elephant

    Great review! This is one of the climate change books I’ve had recommended to me recently but I hadn’t seen any reviews yet- I’m so glad to see it worked for you! It sounds like the perfect way to start really delving into this topic. I really must pick it up!

    Like

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